Book review: Buy-ology fun to read, based on hard-core research

What exactly were you thinking? You bought that latest gadget, the whoozit, a thingamajig, that whatchamacallit, knowing full well you didn't need it. You have one already, equally useless.

It was fun to plunk down money when you bought it but now you're wondering: what were you thinking?

In a way, you weren't. Your emotions overrode your thoughts, which means the gadget's seller did his homework.

Hmm. Can that research help your business?

Maybe. Read more in "Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy" by Martin Lindstrom, the new book about the newest science.

We are a society of shoppers, Lindstrom points out in the beginning of this fascinating study. It's a rare day that we don't buy something, even if it's coffee or a soda from a vending machine. But when you bought that java or the cola, why did you choose that brand?

Researchers know why. While you're doing business, drinking cola, and shopping 'til you're dropping, laboratory volunteers are wearing swim cap-like devices and subjecting themselves to brain scans. The scans tell researchers what products and commercials delight volunteers' brains. Data also indicates what turns consumers off.

Emotions, as it turns out, will win a buyer over every time, Lindstrom says, which happens long before any conscious decision is reached. Before you've made a thoughtful and (you think) careful buying decision, your brain has practically paid for the purchase.

Lindstrom calls it your "Buyology."

So how can this intriguing new science help your business? Because we're inundated by ads, you want your message to stand out. Lindstrom says product placement needs careful consideration; the wrong use of placement may actually weaken consumer recall. Getting people to think about using your product is key because of "mirror neurons." If they imagine using the product, their brains are tricked into believing it's a done deal.

Lindstrom discusses the use of subliminal advertising (despite the furor of years past, it happens); why logos often don't work but "gimmicky" ads sometimes do; how memories are made; why smart marketers prefer to advertise to your nose; the reason traditional research often yields wrong results; and how, in the future, political campaigns may be run by neuroscience.

When someone tells you that a book is a "page-turner," you probably think of the latest top-list best-seller. Now you'll think of "Buyology."

Author Martin Lindstrom is fun and lighthearted, but his research (expensive, as you can imagine, but funded by various entities) is hard-core. It seemed to me that every page has three or four AHA! moments on it, all of which can only make your ad dollars work better and may help your sales team in the field.

The last book I read that was this intriguing was, I think, "Why We Buy" by the brilliant researcher, Paco Underhill. I'm sure it's no accident that Underhill wrote the foreword here.

Pick up a copy of this book and get one of those highlighting thingamajiggies before you fix your ad budget for the New Year. "Buyology" is definitely money well-spent.

Terri Schlichenmeyer of The Bookworm Sez, LLC, can be contacted at