8 Consumer Psychology Books Every Marketer Should Read
Early in my career, a handful of marketers quickly surfaced as industry pioneers; David Ogilvy, Jay Abraham, and Drayton Bird to name a few. Through my admiration, I began researching their work to understand why they stood out in an industry swamped with amazing people. It didn’t take much digging to discover the one thing Ogilvy, Abraham and Bird had in common.
They all had a deep understanding of how to influence and persuade people. These guys consistency got people to do what they wanted at scale because they understood how we think, our emotions and which leavers to pull in which order to make us take the action.
Fast forward a few decades. While the day-to-day methods of targeting, reaching and engaging people is unrecognisable (some may say horribly complex), I would argue that now more than ever understanding consumer psychology is more important than ever because we are swimming in a sea of people that understand machines more than humans. That said, being technical and analytical are still extremely important qualities for the modern marketer, but consumers are the reason we’re doing what we do – so don’t treat them as extras in your marketing story.
Uncovering the importance of consumer psychology sent me down a learning path of which I doubt will ever stop. I have read a tonne of information from different sources, including a number of books which have influenced my thinking and made me a better marketer.
Do you want to follow in the path of the marketing greats? Of course you do. To help you, I have created a list of my favourite consumer psychology books. This isn’t a copy and paste from Amazon, these are books I have read and found useful. To help you prioritise, I have ordered my recommendations by topic.
- Understanding how people think
- How to phycology to influence decision making
- How to use psychology to create better products
- How to use psychology to create a movement
Understand how people think
By Malcolm Gladwell
Blink is a book about the instant choices we make – thinking without thinking. It explores the complexity and depth of information that informs the decision we make in the blink of an eye and explains why some people make brilliant decision makers, while other consistent make poor decisions.
“Blink will enable you to understand how snap decisions are formed”
Thinking, Fast and Slow
By Daniel Kahneman
Thinking, Fast and Slow is a comprehensive exploration of the minds two primary thinking systems. System 1 is emotional, intuitive and fast; System 2 is deliberate, logical and slower. Kahneman exposes flaws in human intuition and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking.
“After reading Thinking, Fast and Slow you’ll understand how people think using two different system and the strengths and weakness of each system”
How to influence choices and decision making
Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness
By Richard H. Thaler & Suntein
Nudge is about engineering choice. Each day we make decisions about finance, food and health, often our choices aren’t the correct ones. Nudge uses examples drawn from behavioural science research, to demonstrate that no choice is ever presented as neutral and that we are all susceptible to biases.
“You’ll come away from Nudge with an understanding of how behavioural science can be used to engineer choices which nudge people. Toward the best decisions”
Decoded: The Science Behind Why We Buy
By Phil Barden
Decoded is a powerful introduction to cutting-edge research in the field of Behavioural Economics, psychology and neuro-economics. In Decoded, Barden shares what happens in the human brain when we make buying decisions. Decoded offers a framework for applying this in everyday marketing.
“You’ll take away a clear understanding of what happens when consumers make choices and how to use this understanding to improve the marketing of your product”
Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing
By Roger Dooley
Brainfluence explains how any company can apply behavioural research and neuroscience. As titled, Brainfluence includes 100 ideas for persuading and convincing consumers to chose your product or brand.
“Brainfluence is an actionable book, by the time you’re done reading it you’ll have a bunch of ideas to test in your marketing activity”
Use psychology to create better products
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products
By Nir Eyal
Hooked in an unrivalled dive into digital product design. With examples from iPhone, Twitter and Pinterest, Hooked provides insight into why some products are successful, where others fail.
“Hooked will provide you with a practical 4-step model which you can use to get your users hooked on your product”
Using psychology to start a movement
The Tipping Point
By Malcolm Gladwell
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell explores the magic moment when an idea, trend or social movement reaches a point, before tipping and spreading like an infection. Using examples from fashion and society, Gladwell frames the tipping point in an interesting and easy to understand context.
“The Tipping Point will provide you with an understanding of how ideas catch on and spread, enabling you to create your own tipping point”
Contagious: Why Things Catch On
By Jonah Berger
If you’ve ever wondered what makes things become popular, Contagious is a great place to start. In Contagious, Berger explores the viral nature of ideas, products and policies, outlining six basic principles which are core to making something infectious.
“Contagious will provide you with a framework for helping your campaign or product spread like wildfire”