The Psychology Behind Why We Buy: Reading and Resources

By on November 18, 2013

Shoppers today are becoming increasingly more informed about how the manufacturing and retail industries operate, especially when it comes to saving money and buying top-quality products. New impulsive spending habits that are trending among the population are not necessarily on the rise because of increased capital among the general public: they are correlated with the growth of the online shopping market, and the prevalence of coupon codes and promotions that provide retail therapy temptations to the general public. By utilizing coupon codes or their analog equivalent to save money at checkout, many consumers feel empowered by their purchasing decisions, not realizing that they are spending more money than usual or that they are sacrificing brand quality for a savings of online nickels and pennies.

This discrepancy between the myths and reality behind shopping and sale-hunting all factors in under the umbrella science of the psychology of shopping. Many academics, journalists, and authors have become intrigued by the science behind why we make purchases based upon risks and rewards presented in advertising, sales, and product promotions. To learn more about the science behind the social and cultural factors that influence our shopping decisions and habits, consider checking out the following books that explore this subject in depth.

The Psychology Behind Why We Buy: Reading and Resources

Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping – Updated and Revised for the Internet, the Global Consumer, and Beyond

By Paco Underhill, 2008, Simon & Schuster Publishing

This go-to book is a best-seller that provides academic, yet accessible, information in a revised edition that touches upon the latest trends in the online retail market. Underhill makes astute observations and analyses of the consumer culture of today, and points out how the process of shopping and buying have changed as the marketing field has shifted in the past few decades. His text is informed with narratives and examples that cover shopping trends around the world, exploring the psychology behind how prosperity, wealth, and consumerism is evolving in emerging markets as compared with those that have been relatively stable for centuries.

The Buying Brain: Secrets for Selling to the Unconscious Mind

A.K. Pradeep, 2010, Wiley Publishers

This text argues that the neurology and psychology behind shopping all focus around our subconscious mind and how it interacts with the shopping ritual. Looking at the advances in the psychological field, and how these advances have been applied in the marketing world to designing marketing campaigns, branding, package design, and even store environments to increase sales, Pradeep looks to understand how to enhance profits and to increase the enjoyment for consumers that engage in the market today.

Why People Buy

John O’Shaughnessy, 1989, Oxford University Press

Though perhaps not as up to date as Underhill’s text, this academic text about the psychology behind shopping and marketing thoroughly explores the choices, beliefs, desires, and needs of the consumer public. O’Shaughnessy’s text explores the marketing tactics that attract new and repeat customers through advertising and promotion, and does so from an academic and scientific position.

Buyology: Truth and Lies Behind Why We Buy

Martin Lindstrom, 2010, Crown Business Press

This expertly-crafted text investigates the power of advertisements and slogans, and how they can affect – or infect – our subconscious drive to consume. Lindstrom discusses his groundbreaking neurological study on the science of advertising and marketing, hoping to answer the questions about whether myths, such as “sex sells” or “brands are equivalent to  cults,” are true and applicable today. Whether it is enticing couponcodes and promotional deals, sensory exploitation that overloads our neurological system, or even triggering of mating instincts through advertising, Lindstrom’s book looks into how the mind is connected to, and informs, our shopping habits today.

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