I was looking forward to reading Consumer.ology in hopes of finding an informed and fresh outlook on consumer research. Firstly, this is less a book that a pamphlet. I'm not sure it took more than 2 hours to thoroughly read it cover to cover, covering really three main topics:
1. A modern understanding of how consumers make decisions:
For anyone who has any interest in consumer or social psychology or in modern developments in neuroscience, this book will bore you to tears. If you have even made a passing attempt to stay current, this is literally everything you already know about the subjects.
2. On the flaws in "market research" as the author defines the subject
This should have been the real meat of the tome. And make no mistake, it is the least boring and most passionate section. Unfortunately, and this is a big flaw, it is also the least informed. If you believe that modern consumer research is predominantly the practice of asking consumers what they think, then by all means have at this book. In that narrow regard it documents a number of flaws with that approach. All of which any professional in the discipline could have told you nearly a decade ago. What the author advertises is a complete take-down of consumer research. What you get is a "so-what" review of caveats and limits to a very narrow approach to consumer research. An approach that you won't find practiced at any leading cpg company.
3. A review of the authors approach to really understanding the consumer
This is truly the most disappointing section of the book. He spends the better part of the book claiming "market research," as he narrowly defines it, is a bad way of informing business decisions, then without the courage of his professed convictions, caps off with his own "special" version of "market research" that he swears will ACTUALLY inform business decisions. Really? Market research is useless, unless you use my special approach. Silly beyond words.
Yet, to bring the entire wasted enterprise to it's foreshadowed doom, this "special" approach is just a sophomoric list of obvious pieces of advice I would bet every market researcher worth his/her salt already knows...
1. Be skeptical of the consumer's opinions about themselves
2. Be mindful of the consumers frame of mind
3. The total consumer experience is needed to reflect reality
4. Consumers more likely to give unbiased reply and behave true to life when they don't this the subject being studied is being studied
5. Consumers reveal the nature of emotional/Impulse judgments best with quick responses, rather than analytical deep dives
That's it. If you are a voracious reader and need something to pound through in an hour or two, or you are a novice to market research, then by all means this book is adequate. That's the most generous thing one could say about it.