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Book review – How Customers Think

How Customers Think The title “How Customers Think” implies cookie cutter solutions for marketers and that is not what this book is about. This book would better have been labeled: “Neuroscience meets marketing” or “Introduction to Marketing Research 2.0″ (Well, there was no “2.0” yet when the book was published in 2003)

Don’t think of taking this book on your next vacation to some tropical beach and read it while relaxing in the sun. This is not light reading. The Author Gerald Zaldman is a Professor of Marketing at Harvard Business School.

A good part of the book deals with how our brain works. I developed a much better understanding about what’s going on in our minds. This knowledge can be applied in many ways beyond the world of marketing.

This is not another “Marketing for Dummies” book (Harvard Business School Press stopped making these a little while ago…). But this book can help everyone involved in the marketing process to better understand how we interact and influence each other way beyond what we are conscious of. I consider it equally important for market researchers, customers, sales people, product designers and advertisers.

Many of the wisdom of the book can be used beyond the world of marketing:
I.e.: If you understand how memories are getting reassembled differently each time they are getting generated you might back off a little bit in the next argument you run into. Maybe you are wrong or you better understand why your opponent is struggling to get his or her facts straight.

Mr. Zaldman questions the validity of a lot of marketing research that is done the traditional way with focus groups, questionnaires and surveys. Therefore a lot of marketers might be offended by what they are reading. This clearly shows in some of the reviews at Amazon labeling the book words like “rubbish”.

Marketers used to focus on segmentation and the differences between groups. At the heart of the book is a section that explains how social scientists are giving more attention to traits and behaviors common to nearly all societies. The chapter includes a long list of human qualities that are universal or near-universal among all cultures. Reading this list alone is worth purchasing the book in my opinion.

I had this book sitting on my shelf for a long time. Simply because I put it away after reading the first 10 pages thinking it is not what I thought it would be. If you can deal with a bit Neuroscience terminology you will be able to extract very valuable information for your daily (marketing) life out of this book.

If you want to build on books like “The Wisdom of Crowds” that deal with decision making processes and how we interact with each other on a broader base, this book will definitely add to the mix.
Get it at Amazon: How Customers Think

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