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on October 31, 2011
If you haven't read "Buy-ology" go read it first, then Brandwashed will blow your mind. Martin packs this book full of research into how companies are tricking us into buying. It starts when were young, infants are marketed to, just in ways you've never realized. Whether it's fear that drives us or sexual aspirations, Brandwashed uncovers what we really think about in the most peculiar situations that nudge us to buy.
If you're at all interested in the marketing industry you will absolutely love this book. Other topics Mr. Lindstrom covers:
Why we get addicted to lipchap
The hidden power of; Nostalgia marketing, Celebrity (famous people) marketing, and marketing 'hope'.
What credit card companies know about us.
And finished off with an actual social experiment which proves the effectiveness of the most powerful form of marketing, "word-of-mouth".

I think the best marketing book of 2011, I'll be referencing this one again and again.

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`Well, in my line of work I look at life through a particular lens: one that sees virtually everything on earth - from the cell phones and computers we use to the watches and clothes we wear to the movies we watch and books we read to the foods we eat to the celebrities and sports teams we worship - as a brand. A form of ID. A statement to the world about who we are or who we wish to be. In short, in today's marketing-and advertising-saturated world, we cannot escape brands.' (Martin Lindstrom)

My own definition of brand is narrower: a type of product (eg mobile phone) manufactured by a company under a particular name (eg Apple iPhone). But then, I'm not a marketer, just a consumer.

However, being aware of Mr Lindstrom's definition makes it far easier to see how brands are essentially emotional triggers that seek to influence our purchasing decisions and often succeed in doing so. What attracts us to a particular brand, and is it possible to become addicted to a brand? What are the tricks used by companies to gain our attention and retain our purchasing loyalty?
Consider the example of a shopping mall chain in Asia, where, after owners noticed expectant mothers spent a lot of time shopping, began experimenting with the unconscious power of smell and sound. About twelve months after they stared their experiment (which included the smell of baby powder in areas that sold clothing, the smell of cherry where food and drink was sold, and soothing music the expectant mothers would recognise) they started receiving letters from mothers who noticed that their babies calmed down when in the mall.

I particularly liked the chapter on nostalgia marketing: yes, those fond memories of the past (accurate or not) can really influence purchasing decisions we make now. Perhaps living in the past is not such a bad thing after all.

There's a reminder, too, for those of us who need it that the digital age has provided a virtual gold mine for data miners to explore and exploit. And we even help them: through the use of loyalty cards and the use of various social networking sites such as facebook and foursquare.

I think that being aware of some of the ways in which marketers work is useful information to have -especially if you want to choose how to adapt to the branding in your life. There's a lot of interesting information in this book: from the role of fear (the purchasing of hand sanitisers during the H1N1 virus) and the power of craving (we know not to shop for food when hungry, but there's a lot more to craving than food).

I found this book easy to read and while I was aware of some of the marketing ploys used, there were plenty of others to think about. If you are interested in the role of marketing in the purchasing decisions you make, you may well be interested in reading this book.

Note: I was offered, and accepted, a copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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on October 10, 2011
This book is a very interesting read into how brands control us, often in ways we never even have thought of. This book will change the way you go shopping.
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Others have shared their opinions of this book and their opinions certainly cover a wide spectrum. Some praise or criticize Martin Lindstrom's writing stile, others praise or criticize his premises and conclusions, and still other praise or criticize both. I'm going to pass on the writing style and focus on what I consider to be among his most important points.

Marketers face much greater challenges today than ever before in terms of attracting and then sustaining the attention of consumers who find themselves buried by "blizzards" of information conveyed by thousands of daily messages that create "clutter." Lindstrom explains how marketers are responding to those challenges.

First, they create or increase demand for what they offer with implicit rather than explicit tactics. Vance Packard wrote about "the hidden persuaders" in a book bearing that title, first published in 1957. In Brandwashed, Lindstrom examines what could be characterized as "the stealth persuaders." For example, we learn that shoppers in American department stores who are exposed to Muzak with a slow tempo shop 18% longer and purchase 17% more than do those who shop in silence. However, in fast food restaurants, Muzak with much faster beats is played "to increase the rate at which a person chews."

Marketers are also making highly effective use of the latest technologies, notably functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), to identify what consumers really want even if they don't as yet know it. Electronic measurement of the brain (especially the functions of the subconscious mind) suggests reveals what does and doesn't attract and retain attention, what does and doesn't appeal initially, what does and doesn't sustain appeal over time, etc. According to Lindstrom, this is the context within which to understand the "tricks companies use to manipulate our minds and persuade us to buy."

Here are the titles and subtitles of the book's first four (of nine) chapters:

1 Buy Buy Baby: When companies start marketing to us in the womb
2. Peddling Panic and Paranoia: Why fear sells
3. I Can't Quit You: Brand addicts, shopaholics, and why we can't live without our smart phones
4. Buy It, Get Laid: The new face of sex (and the sexes) in advertising

It is by no means a stretch of the imagination to consider the implications and potential impact of all this with regard to federal, state, and local elections that involve both selection of public officials and acceptance or rejection of bond issues.

Whatever Lindstrom's inadequacies may be as a prose stylist (FYI, I think he communicates very well), he has made a significant contribution to our understanding of how much more difficult it is to influence not only the purchase-decision process but indeed [begin italics] any [end italics] any process by which opinions are formed, decisions are made, information is shared, etc.
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on September 22, 2011
In his new book, 'Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy,' Martin Lindstrom reveals many of the tricks that are used by marketers to manipulate us into purchasing their products.

Using tools like loyalty cards, history sniffing (tracking websites you have visited in the past) and monitoring credit cards transactions, marketers have more information about their current and potential consumers than ever. Each time that you 'like' a Facebook page or do a search on yahoo!, Bing, or Google you are giving these marketers even more information to use against you.

Some of the most shocking practices used currently by marketers are those that are applied to influence children. Marketers know that 75% of all impulse purchases can be traced to a nagging child so they prey on this behavior. Supermarkets change the location of goods in their stores so parents have to spend more time looking for items.

It was interesting to learn just how brand conscious children have become. According to Lindstrom, the average American three-year-old can recognise 100 brands. When the typical child is given the choice between plain carrots and 'McDonald's carrots,' the child will overwhelmingly choose the branded carrots.

The list goes on and on, and this book has already changed the way I think about a lot of the things I used to take for granted. Instead of using my debit and credit cards to pay for transactions I have found myself going to the ATM and paying cash. I have unsubscribed to a lot of the 'loyalty' sites that I once belonged and am not as concerned with buying the 'branded' good at the store as I was in the past. There are a lot of generics out there that are just as good, if not better than the name brand. I have also noticed that I have a bit more money in my bank account than I typically do at the end of the week!
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on January 14, 2015
Loved this book. Especially the example of the "family" planted in a neighbourhood to investigate the way that personal recommendations influence others to purchase, use, or do.
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Maybe I'm a bit more tuned in but, despite a lot of research that went into this, I didn't really find this as thought-provoking as I thought I would. It's nothing new as to how advertisers try to manipulate us all. I would have preferred to learn whether that manipulation actually works backed by some statistical analysis. I'm sorry as someone who likes certain brands because they give good value, but who also is not swayed when it comes to other items no matter the brand (i.e., do I care what brand toilet paper I use?), I think this book is aimed too much at those who feel corporations are evil. In other words it preaches way too much to the converted.

OK, if that's your point of view, you'll love this book. I tend to think a product stands on its own merit, and maybe I'm in the minority when it comes to things like this. So be it. The fact that the author started out trying to live a life without any brand-name products just struck me as more stupid than a brilliant idea to kick off the discussion.

What this book needed was hard analysis of what brands do a good job both as a corporate citizen and offering a quality product. I felt the whole stuff on data mining complete nonsense and typical fear mongering. This whole notion that companies track what we spend has been going on even (shock! horror!) prior to the Internet. Plus if I'm going to have to deal with ads, I personally would rather have ads for things I'd be interested in than being forcefed ads the old way as on TV and radio (do I really need to know about feminine protection?).

Personally, Barry Glassner's Culture Of Fear was far better in explaining why people act the way they do although its focus was not exclusively on advertising.
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