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Neuro Brain Mapping: Marketing: A Review of “buy*ology" by Martin Lindstrom

Updated on April 3, 2013

buy*ology Truth and Lies About Why We Buy

Well read book
Well read book | Source

Marketing: A Review of “buy*ology"Truth and Lies About Why We Buy” by Martin Lindstrom with foreword by Paco Underhill

Marketers and advertisers are looking for the new way to persuade potential customers to purchase their merchandise. In his book, buy*ology, Martin Lindstrom puts forth an interesting premises that the science of neuroscience opens a new door of persuasion.

In the Beginning

In the beginning all businesses had to do was tell you they had a shipment of merchandise. It was as simple as that. The consumer did not have the plethora of businesses and merchandise to choose from.

Once other similar businesses began to crowd the stage with their similar product then marketing of price and quality became important.

Your image of who you are when you use a certain product came next. Coke was the correct soft drink for you. You wanted to look like the all American apple cheeked healthy and desirable Coke-Cola girl.

The Science of Selling

The science of selling meant market research was implemented. What persuaded you to purchase that product? Did you fit into a specific group, i.e. what was your demographic profile? Demographics are just a way to outline basic factual information about a person, age, sex, education, race, where they live, education, and other basic factual information.

Very soon marketers needed more information. Not all people of the same demographics behaved the same. Why?

Psychographics became another tool. Psychographics are intangibles such as how and why you feel a certain way. This is the study of the customer’s personality, attitudes, values, interests, activities, and opinions.

Psychographics furthered the methodology marketing.

Internet Changes Everything

Internet applications track what you are interested in and directs to you advertisements regarding those interests. Yesterday’s marketers would not even dream about such a scenario.

While the bricks stores lagged in their understanding of using the Internet, they are catching up now. They want you to join their Facebook page. They want you to become a preferred customer. The bricks stores are catching up to what the Internet businesses have going for them.

Many Internet businesses own no merchandise, lease or own no warehouses and yet sell thousands of dollars of merchandise a month. They are the marketer of the product and buy directly from the manufacturer or the warehouse.

Martin Lindstrom on his book buy*ology


Neuroscience, the study of the brain, is a fairly new and very interesting science. It did not take marketers long to use neuroscience to help understand the reason people buy.

Buy*ology takes a look at how we feel about things by monitoring the brain and then watching the areas of the brain in order to understand what is really going on in our heads!

In short, a person’s head has monitors taped/attached to it. Their brain is then watched as the subject views things. It gets interesting when the thing viewed is a commercial designed to sell them things. Think MRI brain scanning and you have a correct picture of the activity.

For example, in buy*ology we learn that smokers are not repelled by the lurid ‘do not smoke warnings of cancer, emphysema, heart disease, and maybe death’ placed on the cigarette packages. In fact the part of the smoker’s brain that was stimulated was the area that made them crave a cigarette.

The actual MRI picture of a brain of a human smoker being shown the warnings on a package of cigarettes did not have the effect of stopping cigarette smoking. To get technical the nucleus accumbens, or the craving spot in the brain was stimulated. The craving part of the brain lit up like a Christmas tree and the smoker craved a cigarette. The fear center, which makes us act, was not stimulated by the words on the package. (Opening chapter)

What this tells us is that our conventional wisdom of what motivates people needs re-visiting.

The book contains specifics that bear out the conclusion that over 90% of our purchasing is unconscious. We don’t know why we are buying most of what we purchase! Our brain is triggered to perform and we are not aware of why.

We do have the ability to rationalize logically what we purchase though. People who sell you things are taught that all purchasing is emotional.

That is why companies use neuroscience to try out their products. One particular perfume company uses the science of neuroscience to test their products and advertisements for the use of the scent, the colors in the advertising, and even advertisement placement. (p.195)

As early as 2007 neuroscience marketing took a look at the brains of people while watching the very high priced Super Bowl commercials. The Super Bowl commercial is the most expensive advertisement on the market. It does make sense to take every method known to modern marketers to create an advertisement that works in the brain of the consumer. Desire and want are further understood by using neuroscience marketing.

American Idol uses the neuroscience marketing extensively on the show. When Coca-Cola sponsored American Idol everything was geared to create the urge to buy Coca-Cola by using neuroscience marketing. (P.47-51 in the book)

The book discusses the use of primordial emotions to sell us on many things. Fear works to sell us things. Rattle us, scare us, upset us, make us on the edge, and otherwise put the fear of God into us and we believe!! We act on this baser form of the human emotional scale.

Fear is felt in the limbic system or our brain. This is called the crocodile part of our brain. , That is the most primitive part of our brain. We fear out of that area of the brain. (p. 198)

Anyone who lived through the 2012 election season has experienced the use of fear on the limbic system as a motivator.

Fear, the Limbic brain that motivates us!

A prime motivator found in the limbic system of the brain, also known as the crocodile area of the human brain
A prime motivator found in the limbic system of the brain, also known as the crocodile area of the human brain | Source

In Conclusion…..

The book is tightly written with pages of verification in the form of notes and bibliographies. It is an interesting read. The technical names of the areas of the brain are interesting to learn. It is an easy read also. The products discussed are everyday and very relevant.

The future of marketing and advertising is going to be an interesting to observe!

What do you think?

Do you think that we make 90% of our purchases without knowing why, like the book says?

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