Consumerology: The Market Research Myth, the Truth About Consumers, and the Psychology of Shopping Hardcover – Sep 9 2010
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Philip Graves has put together an excellent guide to understanding how to know what people will and won't do...Now you can have the benefit of years of knowledge and experience distilled into an easy-to-read and understand book. (Kevin Hogan, author of The Psychology of Persuasion and The Science of Influence)
Alongside his debunking of the market research industry, the author takes us on a fascinating romp through the psychological underpinnings of consumer behaviour...It's well written, accessible and entertaining, yet thought provoking. Consumer.ology is a rich digest of insights on consumer psychology. It should be essential reading for marketers and general managers, and carefully hidden away from anyone whose livelihood depends on market research. (Alan Giles, The Marketing Society and Associate Fellow, Said Business School, University of Oxford)
Consumer.ology is a refreshingly iconoclastic skewer through the heart of traditional market research methods and reason. Graves' peppering of psychological theory with pithy anecdotes of misguided consumer successes and failures is bound to at once ruffle feathers and get heads nodding within marketing and innovation circles. (Blake H. Glenn, Senior Inventor, ?What If! The Innovation Company)
About the Author
Philip Graves is a consumer behaviour consultant, author and speaker. 20 years observing consumers as a market research manager and research consultant made him aware of a conflict between what people said in research and what they actually did, which led to the introduction of the psychology of shopping into his work. He has advised numerous international businesses, including Comet, ITV, Whirlpool, Dr Martens, New Covent Garden Food Company, Camelot, Virgin Media, Hotpoint and Pepsi. In addition to running his own consultancy business, Shift, Philip is an associate of Frontier Economics.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
Let's put it this way - you may say you'll buy one thing, but in the end you'll buy something else entirely. Welcome to the unconscious which decides for us, whether we want it to, or not. From reading consumers to understanding the crowd, from the unconscious mind to consumer futurology, Graves is certainly debunking the market research industry. Introducing the reader not only to stories of how, quite often, extensive marketing research led to major flops when launching a new product (remember the "New Coke" fiasco?), he also shares how some predicted failures became a huge success. Last but not least, he also presents his unique AFECT approach, a set of five criteria to evaluate the reliability of any consumer insight.
Though the book is, in my opinion, more aimed at people who have a background in Marketing, it's an accessible and well written guide, with just the right dosage of ironic humor, thus definitely recommendable to everyone who's interested in the topic.
In short: A comprehensive and refreshing glimpse into the behavior of consumers and their usually not easily discernible buying decisions!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the NetGalley.com book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
The real strength of this book is that it provides an amazing number of insights about the most elusive facet of local, national, and international commerce: the behavior of consumers. Their psyche. Why any business that hopes to survive simply cannot bet the farm on what they have been told or has been inferred by it's very own customers. No organization can survive for long without a plan. So, how do you plan when you're working with data that is, at best, suspect?
Fortunately, Mr. Graves doesn't take us down this rocky road and dump us out. No, he shares his own insights and knowledge to help a company find its niche and get a more realistic fix on exactly HOW and WHERE it will find its own competitive edge.
Every C Level executive and business owner needs to know which market research is worthwhile and which is a waste of time and money. Consumer.ology explains exactly that. Through his personal insights and academic research, Graves weaves a compelling story of how the consumer mind works and how it can best be influenced.
If insights into your customer's mind like this, "It is unrealistic to expect consumer to know what they think," would be helpful to your success in the marketplace, then the more than 200 pages of solid content makes this one of the best marketing books in which you can invest.
A brilliant "must-read" work for marketers and entrepreneurs alike. And, it's available for the Kindle too.
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