cover image Unthinking: The Surprising Forces Behind What We Buy

Unthinking: The Surprising Forces Behind What We Buy

Harry Beckwith, Grand Central/Business Plus, $24.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-446-56414-

A rumination on the psychology behind our responses to advertisements from marketing expert Beckwith. With our susceptibility determined by our childhoods and culture, much of our response is unconscious. We consistently respond positively to any product that reminds us of play—the iPhone with its bright colors and fun features is a perfect example. We respond to music, to rhyming ads—"it takes a licking and keeps on ticking!"—and gravitate toward the comfort of the familiar; we like Krispy Kreme and Starbucks precisely because they are popular. Despite our continual penchant for optimism and the quest for beauty and convenience, however, we are a fickle, difficult-to-please bunch. While short on practical application, this is a fascinating meditation on the American consumer and the canny marketers in hot pursuit of customers. (Jan.)