Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Science of Why

Forbes, D. (2015). The Science of Why: Decoding Human Motivation & Transforming Marketing Strategy. NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Adult / Non Fiction / Educational / Marketing / Psychology

I gave this book 3.5* out of 5 Stars

The emotional drives that are fueled by how people want to 
think and feel about themselves are at the very heart of the forces 
we must persuade and sell to.  --  David Forbes

In The Science of Why: Decoding Human Motivation & Transforming Marketing Strategy, author David Forbes tells readers to think of the book “as a map to guide us as we set out on the journey to discover who our consumers are and to learn why they do what they do.”  Dr. Forbes believes that emotions are at the root of consumers’ nine core motivations, which drive all consumer behavior.  Further, Forbes believes if businesses can view the world from the perspective of consumers’ emotional motivations, then marketers will be able to successfully promote their products.  The Science of Why is divided into chapters which explore each of the nine motivations Dr. Forbes presents in the MindSight Motivational Matrix, and chapters include plenty of sidebars, plus sections titled “Consumer Portraits” and “Case Studies” that apply real world examples to the concepts. Each of those chapters concludes with a “Takeaways” section that summarizes the main points of the chapter and what the marketer needs to remember about the consumer motivation explored within the chapter. 

The strength of The Science of Why is in Dr. Forbes’s extensive knowledge of the psychology of consumer motivational behaviors and Forbes’s own vast experience in the industry.  Forbes covers everything from the great scholars of motivation studies to the research methodologies used over the ages to extract what drives consumers to make their purchases.  The writing is straightforward and informal, which makes the book easy to follow and understand (while making grammar traditionalists a little crazy).   The message is clear that in order to successfully market their products and stay alive in an ever-changing marketplace, businesses must take the time to know their consumers.  Fortunately, Forbes provides direction and numerous specific tips and strategies for market research.

Where the book needs work is in editing. (*This is why the book got 3.5 and not 4 or 5 stars.) Sadly, there are numerous errors in punctuation and capitalization, along with dropped words, added words, and typos; even the jacket blurb had errors.   There were formatting inconsistencies and some illustrations that included information in a font so small it was difficult to read. Additionally, the author has a habit of using quotation marks for emphasis – the equivalent of using air quotes in speech -- which detracts from the professionalism. These issues could easily be corrected with a thorough editing, which one would expect with the publication coming from a major publishing house.  Dr. Forbes clearly knows his material and is a highly educated person, but the errors chip away at the otherwise outstanding and informative presentation of the material.

The book is fascinating and spends more time on detailing the history and psychology of human motivation than it does on addressing practical applications for the marketer.  Awareness and knowledge of what drives consumers is essential for the marketer, and readers looking for those aspects will not be disappointed; however, readers looking primarily for marketing strategies may be frustrated and find the level of background explanation unnecessary.   I recommend this book for marketing students and business world marketers who are interested in learning how to better know consumers and changing the way products are promoted to meet consumer needs. 

This book was reviewed by request from BookPlex, in exchange for my honest review -- the only kind I give.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. David Forbes founded Forbes Consulting over 20 years ago as an insight-based marketing consultancy dedicated to creating business advantage through deep psychological consumer insights. Since that time, his company has increased the marketing effectiveness of major brands domestically and internationally.  Dr. Forbes holds a PhD in clinical and cognitive psychology from Clark University, USA, and was a member of the faculties of Harvard Medical School Department of Psychiatry and the Harvard Laboratory of Human Development.  His seminal work on motivational theory has reshaped academic dialogue on the topic and revolutionized the way Forbes's clients think about their consumers, their products, and their marketing strategies.

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