Category Archives: Economics

Economics Books

Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy by Martin Lindstrom

Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy by Martin Lindstrom is a fun, eye-opening book. It explores the field of neural marketing, which is a mix of marketing, behavioral economics, and cognitive science (think commercials + FMRI’s).

It uses an adventure-like narrative to describe some of the procedures and has some fun little tidbits in it, like how car commercials were virtual clones (you could swap one for another without brand/product recognition), yet the mini-cooper stood out because it activated the cute facial recognition part of our brains. Maybe I’m not the only one who sees headlights as eyes and grills as mouths.

The key points for me were:
– If one brand’s presence dominates a show, side advertisers may be wasting their money
– Rituals can make a product stick
– Little details, like headquarters listed make huge differences
– Non-important or non-existent magic mystery elements sell!
– Breakable brands are more likely to succeed
– Sex and religion in advertising aren’t always the best policy
– Associated messages (truly subliminal ones) are extremely powerful

The biggest question I had with it was if there was research done on how the warning labels and anti-smoking commercials impact non-smokers. While the book shows the counterproductive impact on those who are addicted, I wonder how they impact potential consumers who are not addicted.


Freakonomics [Revised and Expanded]: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
Freakonomics is one crazy eye-opening book. I recently got it as a present from my old roommate. I really can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t benefit from reading this book. It’s a potent mix of history, policy, economics, and some statistics and how they all interact in very surprising ways. Told in an approachable, fresh, fun to read (or listen to) voice.

The part on glamor professions really hits a point. Thousands of people in lower positions competing for a very few spots. Those that make it, do very well, those are the ones seen, but most people don’t make it. If instead people went for a different goal, they could significantly increase their chances for success, or at the very least increase their standard of living while they try to achieve it. I also like how many events could be equally well or better “explained” by influences completely different than those that come to mind. Crime rate drops in a city with new police policies. Everyone cheers the mayor. Crime drops across the nation, regardless of policies. Was it because of the new policies? Was it due to some other event? Interesting question is how can we test these explanations.