“Buy-ology” by Martin Lindstrom gives us an insight into our buying behavior, which is not as predictable as some of us would like to think. 

To understand the rise and fall of brands, we need to start with the cause: the customer.

Observing the fault of the traditional research methods, which collects its findings based on what people say they do instead of what they actually do, Martin was convinced that the only way to get closer to the true secrets behind our buying choices was to study the brain.


Product placement


 is as old as time. These are products showing up everywhere, from movies to TV shows, bombarding us, sometimes to the point of exhaustion. Too little is not enough to be remembered, too much is turning us away.


What is a brand to do?


It helps if everything connected to the brand becomes part of the story. The example with the American Idol and Coca Cola is a good one at that. The other brands didn’t stand a chance in front of the Cola giant. Chairs, drinks, shapes, colors… Everything connected to Cola was part of the show. Better yet, the story of the show.


Mirror neurons


Have you ever wondered why do you feel sympathy when you see somebody hurting? How about why you feel instant joy when you see somebody smiling?

Mirror neurons help us understand why we smile when we see someone happy and cry when we see they’re in pain.

They practically fire when an action is being performed and when that same action is being observed.

We do what the others are doing, which explains the reason why we find ourselves laughing when somebody else is laughing without being able to explain it. 

Chris Voss, former FBI negotiator explains in “Never Split the Difference” that even if the other person doesn’t smile, he or she feels happier inside despite their intention of not revealing the feeling. 

Sometimes only reading about what the others are doing makes us take the same action and the scary thing about it is that we aren’t even aware of it.

In 1997, a British tobacco company started preparing for the cigarette ads ban to come. They placed the logo against a purple silk background. This had prepared their customers for the future. Every time they would see a purple background, they would associate it, for no apparent reason to the tobacco product.


In “Never Split the Difference”, Chris Voss talks about mirroring in conversation.

It’s a useful technique used to get the other person to provide you more information without making them angry or offended. While using mirroring, the other person feels empathetic and feel compelled to answer. 


Subliminal messages


 are everywhere, and the worst thing about them is that we aren’t even aware of them, yet, they are being exploited by companies by getting us to buy.

Products and brands that have rituals


or superstitions


associated with them tend to be much sticker than the ones that don’t. Even religion is connected to our buying choices. Take for example the Jews from America buying dirt brought from their homelands as a faith statement. The sense of belonging makes us buy products we wouldn’t normally buy.

Somatic markers

Buy-ology-Somatic Markers

 are associations between two incompatible elements. They are based on past experiences out of which fear is the most powerful. A child touched a hot pan while trying to get his supper. He remembers the pain.  From that moment on, every time he sees a hot pan he thinks about that pain. Nothing will be the same for him. Events and circumstances stay with us. Companies are not far behind taking advantage of it.


Our senses


 are the ones we usually count on. Or do we?

Sight doesn’t seem to serve us any longer. This has been the result of the visual assault we are living every day.

Our smell is a strong indicator of guidance in our everyday lives. Yet, companies cannot appeal only to one sense anymore. The appeal gains overwhelming power when there is a combination of more than one sense.

You see the McDonald sign and decide to go in.

What you wish is only a cup of coffee. But the smell is so appealing, you find yourself ordering fries and burgers instead.

There’s no chance of winning.

And yet it wasn’t the barbecue smell that drew you in but the flavor pumped through the ventilation system.

How about it? Can we trust our senses?


Can neuromarketing predict our buy-ology behavior?


What are companies to do now knowing that traditional research techniques are becoming obsolete? They will start turning to science to predict behavior and buying choices. What are consumers to do? After reading this book, there is nothing we can do. We will fall victim for reasons we don’t even understand.




“Buy-ology” is an eye-opener for both companies and consumers. 

For companies, it presents an alternative to future sells, to stronger brand awareness.

For consumers, it warns us about our buying choices and the fact that we probably have no control over them, at least not as we might have thought we had.

Yet will explanation suffice in warning us about our own future buying behavior? How do we know if what we buy is indeed something we want and need or something that someone else made us buy through hints and hidden messages? 

Reading about how easily our brain can be fooled into buying, makes us wonder if we are as evolved as we like to believe. Even if we are not in the marketing business, we are, first and foremost consumers. All of us and for this reason “Buy-ology” makes an interesting read. 


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  • An eye-opener for both companies and the buyer
  • It can be used to influence people


  • The findings can be used to influence our buying behavior
  • It can be used to influence people

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