Posts Tagged ‘Consumer behavior’

Book Review: Buying In

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

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Walker, Rob. Buying in : the secret dialogue between what we buy and who we are. Random House, 2008.

The mass market is dead, according to author Rob Walker. So is the couch potato consumer, who used to care what four out of five dentists recommended. Yet the new consumer purchases more branded products than ever before. In today’s environment where there is a paralyzing abundance of options available to the consumer, what makes people buy what they do?

The first part of the book is about branding, how marketers attach an idea to a product. Consumers will often participate in creating this meaning even though they don’t fully understand it themselves. Also important to consumer choice is the eternal tension between people wanting to be individuals, unique and special, and desiring to be part of something larger than themselves. Plus, consumer choice is about self expression. Product choice is powered by emotion, often unconscious to the consumer.

Walker also discusses new forms of marketing, such as hiring regular Americans to talk up products with friends and acquaintances, or to drop suggestions for purchases at stores. He also includes dozens of stories about branded products, including Timberland boots, PBR beer, the iPod and Red Bull. Interestingly, the section on Red Bull cites a study by Dan Ariely, Baba Shiv and Ziv Carmon, all of whom are or were at Fuqua at one time.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business. All rights reserved.

Book Reviews: Nudge and Sway

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

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Brafman, Ori and Rom Brafman. Sway: the irresistible pull of irrational behavior. Doubleday, 2008.

Thaler, Richard H. and Cass R. Sunstein. Nudge: improving decisions about health, wealth and happiness. Yale, 2008.

Most people consider themselves to be rational. They evaluate their options and make decisions rationally, or at least they think so. Recently, a number of books have been published that show that people routinely make bad decisions because they are not paying attention; because they are influenced by their emotions and expectations; because they are pressured by social norms; or because they have limited self control.

The most popular and well-regarded of these books is the best-selling Predictably Irrational by Fuqua faculty member Dan Ariely. Predictably Irrational is a fantastic book that has been reviewed extensively, including reviews in the New York Times and on NPR.

Predictably Irrational is the first go-to source in learning why and how people behave as they do. But two other new books also merit mention:

Book Review: Hot, Flat, and Crowded

Monday, October 27th, 2008

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Hot, flat, and crowded : why we need a green revolution– and how it can renew America by Thomas L. Friedman. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008.

Following his blockbuster book on globalization, The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman has written another destined for a multi-year stay on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Hot, Flat, and Crowded focuses on three global trends that will soon undermine the quality of life of earth: Global warming, the rise of the middle class world-wide and rapid population growth. As billions more people adopt middle class consumption patterns, the effect on climate, natural resources and biodiversity will be devastating. In addition, the world will experience tighter energy supplies, a division between electricity haves and have-nots, and a transfer of wealth to petro-powers, which are largely anti-democratic.

After focusing on the problems of global warming, population growth, and consumerism in the first half of the book, Friedman outlines his solution in the second. He proposes “Code Green” to transform our our current Dirty Fuels System to a clean-powered, energy-efficient, conservation-based system. Friedman calls for a revolution, the largest innovation project in American history.

Overall, this is an optimistic book. Friedman says that thirty years ago, America could be counted on to lead the world in response to the important challenges of the day, but recently the US lost its way. The green revolution is an opportunity to become that city on the hill once again, providing leadership on healing the earth.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business. All rights reserved.

Cell Phone Use in The Library

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

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One of our Library users has shared a concern with the Library Staff over cell phone use in the Library.

Please be considerate of your fellow Library users, and follow the two simple guidelines below regarding cell phone use in the Library.

1. Set your cell phone to vibrate or silent mode.

2. If you get a call while in the Library, please take the call in:


  • one of the copier rooms (located near the circulation desk or at the back of the Library)
  • one of the Library restrooms
  • in the hall outside the Library

Thanks for your consideration and cooperation!

Book Review: Microtrends

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

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Penn, Mark J. Microtrends : the small forces behind tomorrow

Political adviser Mark Penn identifies more than 70 trends in work, politics, lifestyles and relationships that are changing the way we live. Some of the trends are obvious. Older Americans are continuing to work after retirement age. Middle income people are buying second homes and having elective surgery in greater numbers. Americans are pampering their pets.

The fun begins when Penn presents trends that are contrary to popular belief. Penn refutes the conventional wisdom that Americans’ attention spans are shrinking in the internet age. He presents evidence that a sizable number of Americans want substance and depth in communication. (Note: this chapter is 4 pages long, as is typical for this book.)

Surprising trend in career aspirations — Sniper. When young men were asked in a poll, “What do you think you will most likely be doing in ten years,” a small but significant number gave the open-ended answer “Sniper.”

Book Review: Karma Queens, Geek Gods, & Innerpreneurs

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

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Rentel, Ron. Karma queens, geek gods, & innerpreneurs : meet the 9 consumer types shaping today’s marketplace. Twelve, 2007.

This guide to nine influential consumer groups is an entertaining analysis of what people are buying, what activities they enjoy and what attitudes they express. Using a system the author calls C-Types, consumers are grouped into portraits derived from key attitudes and behaviors, their social status, and demographic factors.

This reviewer’s personal favorite is named “Middlemen” and is primarily composed of a segment of the 21 to 35-year-old male demographic. The average MiddleMan is an unmarried college graduate, who refuses to grow up. The MiddleMan often makes a good salary, but lives with his parents, and if not them, he lives communally with other young people, sharing expenses. He has ample disposable income to spend on gaming at home. A MiddleMan owns an Xbox, Playstation, and/or Nintendo Wii. He participates in fantasy sports leagues. He still buys his clothes at American Eagle, just as he did in high school. He never cooks at home but primarily eats fast food, often late at night.

For marketers, this all adds up to products that appeal to immediate gratification, expensive products with cheap thrills and products with a strong brand identification. Eight other portraits in the book are similarly entertaining.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business. All rights reserved.