The best consumer behaviour books

7 authors have picked their favorite books about consumer behaviour and why they recommend each book.

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Consumer Behavior

By Maria Cronley, Thomas Cline, Frank R. Kardes

Book cover of Consumer Behavior

This textbook is scientifically grounded but highly readable. This book offers an information-processing perspective to help us get inside the head of the consumer and to understand how attention, memory, judgment, and inference processes operate in concert to influence consumer decision making. Consumers are frequently unaware of these influences on their thinking and reasoning.


Who am I?

Frank R. Kardes, Ph.D. is the Donald E. Weston Professor of Marketing and Distinguished Research Professor at the Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati. He is a recipient of the Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award of the Society for Consumer Psychology, and a Fellow of five national professional societies. His research focuses on omission neglect, consumer judgment, and inference processes, persuasion and advertising, and consumer and managerial decision making. He was Co-Editor of Advances in Consumer Research, Journal of Consumer Psychology, the Handbook of Consumer Psychology, and Marketing Letters, and serves or has served on seven editorial boards. He has published nine books and over 100 articles and chapters on consumer psychology.


I wrote...

Handbook of Research Methods in Consumer Psychology

By Frank R. Kardes,

Book cover of Handbook of Research Methods in Consumer Psychology

What is my book about?

What impact can various research methods have on consumer psychology? How can they help us understand the workings of the consumer mind? And how can the field of consumer psychology best utilize these methods? In the Handbook of Research Methods in Consumer Psychology, leading consumer psychologists summarize key aspects of the research process and explain how different methods enrich understanding of how consumers process information to form judgments and opinions and to make consumption-related decisions.

The Attention Merchants

By Tim Wu,

Book cover of The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads

You may think you can tune out advertising, but you’re wrong. You may think it’s natural for so much entertainment to be available “for free” on all your digital devices. But most of us don’t realize how many businesses are profiting from harvesting our attention—and they keep finding new ways to entertain, inform, and persuade us, that we may not even notice them. I loved this book because of the engaging way that Tim Wu chronicles the history of the many industries that feed on human attention. He demonstrates how influencers, hawkers, celebrities, politicians, and pitchmen are not just salespeople, but the living heart of media and technology systems. 


Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated with propaganda and persuasion since childhood. Growing up in Detroit, our family would watch both American and Canadian TV channels. The TV commercials shown on the American TV channels were noisier, nosier, zanier, and more intrusive than the more sedate and polite forms of persuasion on Canadian shows. Because advertising and propaganda are kissing cousins, I've always appreciated how they shape politics, journalism, entertainment, activism, education, and the arts. Propaganda's greatest (and most dangerous) power is its ability to both unify and divide people, and there's never been a more important time to look carefully at how propaganda is shaping our understanding of reality through the many screens in our lives.


I wrote...

Mind Over Media: Propaganda Education for a Digital Age

By Renee Hobbs,

Book cover of Mind Over Media: Propaganda Education for a Digital Age

What is my book about?

Students of all ages are surrounded by contemporary propaganda – and it now takes many forms as social media delivers highly customized, nonstop streams of entertainment, information, and persuasion. But educators can help students cope with the different kinds of propaganda – both beneficial and harmful – that can be found in news, advertising, movies, political campaigns, activism, and even education. This book offers a cornucopia of instructional strategies that help students analyze, resist, critique – and create propaganda. In the interplay of influence, propaganda is a strategic tool that shapes public opinion by using the power of language and images to appeal to the deepest hopes, fears, and dreams of people around the world. 

Priceless

By William Poundstone,

Book cover of Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value

Would you guess that the average daily temperature in San Francisco is above or below 558 degrees Fahrenheit?

I'm going to assume you guessed "below", because that's the right answer and absolutely everybody gets it right.

Now---what would you guess is the actual average daily temperature in San Francisco? If you are like just about everybody, your guess right now is quite a bit higher than the guess you’d have made a minute ago, before you saw my first (entirely ludicrous) question. This well-documented effect persists even when subjects are told about it and warned not to fall prey to it.

Perhaps I’m overestimating, but I believe this book contains about 14 billion equally fascinating and weird facts about how human minds process information. But although these facts are quirky, they are not quirks --- they are central to the working of the human mind, not just little mistakes we…


Who am I?

As far back as I can remember, I’ve spent a lot of time worrying about things like why there is something instead of nothing, why we can remember the past but not the future, and how consciousness arises. Although I’m a professor of economics, I take such things seriously enough to have published some papers in philosophy journals, and even a whole book about philosophy called The Big Questions. These are some of the books that sharpened my thinking, inspired me to think more deeply, and convinced me that good writing can render deep ideas both accessible and fun.


I wrote...

Can You Outsmart an Economist?

By Steven E. Landsburg,

Book cover of Can You Outsmart an Economist?

What is my book about?

Can you outsmart an economist? Steven Landsburg, an acclaimed author and professor of economics, dares you to try. In this whip-smart, entertaining, and entirely unconventional economics primer, he brings together over one hundred puzzles and brain teasers that illustrate the subject’s key concepts and pitfalls. From warm-up exercises to get your brain working, to logic and probability problems, to puzzles covering more complex topics like inferences, strategy, and irrationality, Can You Outsmart an Economist? will show you how to do just that by expanding the way you think about decision-making and problem-solving. Let the games begin!

Predictably Irrational

By Dan Ariely,

Book cover of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

People consider themselves as rational beings, but we are notin more than one surprising way. Ariely is giving us examples and sharing stories that show us how irrational we can sometimes really be. Reading this book cannot just allow us to see things more clearly when we make our choices in life. It can also allow us to understand others, and in a weird and funny way maybe even help us be more compassionate when facing other people's mistakes.


Who am I?

As I was writing The Coincidence Makers I found out I am not writing about coincidences, at all. I found out I was writing about fate and free will, about the way we make choices, and how these choices affect us, define us and change us. Choices and the way they build our happiness is the theme of this list, which is made out of books that I read before or during the writing process of my own (fiction) book, and probably influenced it, one way or another.


I wrote...

The Coincidence Makers: A Novel

By Yoav Blum,

Book cover of The Coincidence Makers: A Novel

What is my book about?

Guy, Emily, and Eric are three seemingly ordinary people who work for a secret organization devoted to creating and carrying out coincidences. What the rest of the world sees as random occurrences, are, in fact, carefully orchestrated events designed to spark significant changes in the lives of their targets—scientists on the brink of breakthroughs, struggling artists starved for inspiration, loves to be, or just plain people like you and me…

But a secret mission, a killer who can't hurt a fly, and memories from previous lives are going to change all that and teach them about the true nature of fate, free will, and the real meaning of love.

Decoding the New Consumer Mind

By Kit Yarrow,

Book cover of Decoding the New Consumer Mind: How and Why We Shop and Buy

Marketing psychologist Kit Yarrow explains how technology has rewired our brains, making us more individualistic, isolated, emotional, and distrustful. This is not a pessimistic book—it’s a practical guide to addressing customers’ desires and insecurities in a time of deep cultural shifts. Not only has she done her homework, but she also presents the results with lightness and clarity.


Who am I?

In my younger days I was a graphic designer and copywriter, approaching brands largely from a creative viewpoint. Over the years I’ve discovered that creative work is much more powerful when harnessed to business strategy, and business strategy is much more powerful when combined with exceptional creative work. I’ve characterized the gulf between strategy and creativity as the “brand gap,” which has led to eight books on branding and a school for professional mastery called Level C.


I wrote...

The Brand Gap

By Marty Neumeier,

Book cover of The Brand Gap

What is my book about?

My goal was to write a book that busy professionals could finish on a short plane ride, but still go deeper with every re-read. I used the visual language of the boardroom—charts, diagrams, illustrations, and the fewest number of words—to present the first unified theory of brand. Here you’ll learn the five critical disciplines for bridging the gap between business strategy and customer experience. Over 25 million people have read the book so far, and it’s now the basis of a popular certificate program called Level C.

Contagious

By Jonan Berger,

Book cover of Contagious: Why Things Catch on

Creative ideas are nothing without distribution. Social recognition plays an essential role in the creative process, but ideas can’t get recognized without people being exposed to them. Berger’s book provides a manual and framework for how to get your ideas seen, heard, or experienced. He also (successfully) leans on his professorial background to use research to help explain why these tactics work.


Who am I?

I have been addicted to reverse engineering things since I was a kid. I wrote The Creative Curve to reverse engineer the science of creativity. What could academic research teach us about creativity? If we talked to some of the world’s leading creatives, what would they tell us? My goal is to help readers unlock the part of them (that, as I argue, we all have) that is creative. When I’m not writing, I invest in tech startups that I think will leverage the principles from my book. I live in New York City with my mischievous, but incredibly adorable corgi Maven. 


I wrote...

The Creative Curve: How to Develop the Right Idea, at the Right Time

By Allen Gannett,

Book cover of The Creative Curve: How to Develop the Right Idea, at the Right Time

What is my book about?

Overturning the mythology around creative genius and revealing the science and secrets behind achieving breakout commercial success in any field. Including interviews with everyone from the Broadway team behind Dear Evan Hansen, to the founder of Reddit, from the Chief Content Officer of Netflix to Michelin star chefs, The Creative Curve reveals the four laws of creative success and identifies the common patterns behind their achievement.

Brand Hijack

By Alex Wipperfürth,

Book cover of Brand Hijack: Marketing Without Marketing

This was the book that inspired me to switch careers. Wipperfürth details the rise of brands like Doc Martens, Napster and Pabst Blue Ribbon, all of which were WOM success stories. But he did so before the practice of word-of-mouth was openly practiced and promoted by agencies and consultants around the world. Still, you can see the brilliance behind the power of turning your brand over to your customers and how engineering that can happen.


Who am I?

Jason Falls is an award-winning marketing strategist, author of three books, and host of two marketing-related podcasts. He has been listed as one of the most influential voices in the world of social media and influencer marketing.


I wrote...

Winfluence: Reframing Influencer Marketing to Ignite Your Brand

By Jason Falls,

Book cover of Winfluence: Reframing Influencer Marketing to Ignite Your Brand

What is my book about?

While not specifically focused on word-of-mouth marketing, Winfluence does turn the focus of influence marketing toward WOM as one of the four purposes influence serves. It argues that we must drop the “r” from influencer marketing to broaden our focus on the task at hand: influencing an audience to take action.

Inconspicuous Consumption

By Tatiana Schlossberg,

Book cover of Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don't Know You Have

When it comes to the massive issue of climate change, even citizens who are very concerned often wonder, “What can I really do to help?” The scale of the problem requires global action, but often people are left feeling like their actions alone can’t begin to make a difference. In Inconspicuous Consumption, former New York Times science writer Tatiana Schlossberg opens our eyes to the fact that our everyday choices in such a convenience-driven society contribute to the climate crisis.

Schlossberg unveils the hidden environmental impacts behind the Internet and technology, food, fashion, and fuel and traces the far-reaching effects of our daily living in a super-connected world. But, even more importantly, she shows us that our choices, such as what we eat or what we wear, could also be a part of the many solutions needed, too. In terms of a carbon footprint, I finally got a great…


Who am I?

I’m a conservation scientist and a writer. I’ve always thought of human and environmental health as deeply intertwined, but as a scientist in the environmental field, I get to study how those links play out in various contexts and help people implement solutions to create a more sustainable future. At heart, I am a storyteller. I write mainly about forest and climate-related issues, but I have a broader interest in the complex relationships between people and the natural world. I hold a dual degree in Environmental Studies and Visual Art from Brown University, and I earned my Ph.D. from the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program for Environment and Resources at Stanford University.


I wrote...

In Search of the Canary Tree: The Story of a Scientist, a Cypress, and a Changing World

By Lauren E. Oakes,

Book cover of In Search of the Canary Tree: The Story of a Scientist, a Cypress, and a Changing World

What is my book about?

In 2010, ecologist Lauren E. Oakes set out from California for Alaska’s old-growth forests to hunt for a dying tree: the yellow-cedar. With climate change as the culprit, the death of this species meant loss for many Alaskans. Oakes and her research team wanted to chronicle how plants and people could cope with their rapidly changing world. Amidst the standing dead, she discovered the resiliency of forgotten forests, flourishing again in the wake of destruction, and a diverse community of people who persevered to create new relationships with the emerging environment. Eloquent, insightful, and deeply heartening, In Search of the Canary Tree is a case for hope in a warming world.

One of Science Friday’s Best Science Books of 2018; Second-Place Winner, 2019 Rachel Carson Environment Book Award; Finalist, 2019 National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Communications Award.

Secondhand

By Adam Minter,

Book cover of Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale

This is a revelatory, timely book that details the afterlives of the numerous discarded and recycled objects from around the world. It gave me great insights into where stuff goes once we decide that these are things that we no longer need or want and who are the people and the places who find value in what we leave behind. 


Who am I?

Graeme Brooker is a Professor and Head of Interior Design at the Royal College of Art London. He has written and published fifteen books on the histories and theories of inside spaces, many of which focus on the reuse of existing artefacts, buildings, and cities. Apart from teaching and writing, when he isn’t cycling, he is often staring intently at the sea in Brighton, where he currently lives.


I wrote...

50/50 Words for Reuse: A Minifesto

By Graeme Brooker,

Book cover of 50/50 Words for Reuse: A Minifesto

What is my book about?

50/50 Words is a compilation of the words for reuse. It outlines a lexicon of language, is an expression of vocabularies, and claims a glossary of terms all used to distinguish the transformation of the existing into something new in order to make new interior spaces. In response to a world with finite resources, the very-near future of the built environment will be focused solely on the re-designation of all existing matter. New-build and single-use processes will be obsoleted distinctions for making cities, buildings, interiors, and artefacts. 50|50 characterises centuries of these practices and it specifies their relevance to the 21st century, a time that can be characterised in its responses to the challenges of the climate emergency. 

This book is only available direct from the publisher here.

Why We Buy

By Paco Underhill,

Book cover of Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping

Paco’s Why We Buy has been the gold standard for shopper marketers for many years. This book (and its more recently updated new edition) opens our eyes to the seemingly “random” behaviors of store shoppers. This was one of the first attempts to systematically study and optimize the use of retail space – as such it was a precursor to the many books on the customer experience we see today.

Who am I?

I’m passionate about the extraordinary world of the ordinary consumer. Organizations are much more likely to succeed when they are, too. I’m a marketing professor at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, U.S.A. I’m also a marketing consultant, an author (my Consumer Behavior textbook is the market leader globally), and a keynote speaker.  


I wrote...

The New Chameleons: How to Connect with Consumers Who Defy Categorization

By Michael R. Solomon,

Book cover of The New Chameleons: How to Connect with Consumers Who Defy Categorization

What is my book about?

Consumers are changing, but the marketing categories used to identify them have not. Engage with this new generation of consumers who increasingly take for granted that products and advertising will blend their multiple brand identities rather than market to them as a specific subculture.

Male or female, work or play, online or offline. These and other market categories are no longer relevant as modern consumers defy traditional boundaries and identify as members of multiple subcultures. The New Chameleons reveals how to engage with this new generation of consumers who change their social identities as often as chameleons change colors.

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