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Buyology

Truth and Lies About Why We Buy

By Martin Lindstrom
15-minute read
Audio available
Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy by Martin Lindstrom

Day in and day out we’re bombarded by thousands of brand images, logos and commercials enticing us to buy their products. However, only some ads actually motivate us to whip out our wallets. Why? Using cutting-edge neuromarketing methods, Buyology answers that question and explores the hidden motivations behind our purchasing decisions.

  • Anyone exposed to advertising
  • Anyone who wants to learn more about the brain
  • Marketing strategists and consumer advocates

Martin Lindstrom is a Danish writer and branding expert, and was listed as one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2009. In addition to consulting top firms, Lindstrom writes for FAST Company and TIME magazine, and has authored numerous other best-selling books.

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Buyology

Truth and Lies About Why We Buy

By Martin Lindstrom
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy by Martin Lindstrom
Synopsis

Day in and day out we’re bombarded by thousands of brand images, logos and commercials enticing us to buy their products. However, only some ads actually motivate us to whip out our wallets. Why? Using cutting-edge neuromarketing methods, Buyology answers that question and explores the hidden motivations behind our purchasing decisions.

Key idea 1 of 9

Mirror neurons influence our buying decisions without our control.

Why is it that whenever someone else yawns we have the uncontrollable urge to do the same? Or why is it seeing someone else’s beaming smile puts a smile on our face as well? It all comes down to mirror neurons.

In 1992, scientist Giacomo Rizzolatti conducted a study on a type of monkey called macaques, and was astonished to find that the animals’ premotor neurons lit up both when reaching for a nut and when watching another macaque do the same.

These are mirror neurons at work, and evidence even suggests that the regions of our brains that contain mirror neurons are equally stimulated whether we’re performing an action ourselves or merely watching someone else do it.

Essentially, we reenact in our minds whatever we observe others doing.

Companies seek to exploit our mirror neurons with their advertising to entice us to buy. Because our mirror neurons respond to “targeted gestures,” i.e., images of someone sipping a soft drink or lacing up a new shoe, this makes them invaluable to marketing. The attractive models on Abercrombie & Fitch bags, for instance, trigger our mirror neurons with the promise of a perfect body.

But mirror neurons don’t always act alone: they often work in concert with dopamine, a pleasure hormone, in order to create the happy feeling that causes us to buy. This is why we feel so great after a little “retail therapy,” even if that rush of dopamine causes us to buy more than our rational minds would otherwise allow.

The rush we get from making purchases can be explained by our evolution. We consider purchases to be an indicator of an increase in social status, which in turn increases our reproductive chances. Thus, our bodies’ survival instinct floods our brains with dopamine to urge us to buy the latest car model or a fancy new handbag in order to increase our chances at reproduction.

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