Consumerology: The Truth about Consumers and the Psychology of Shopping

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Philip Graves, one of the world's leading experts in consumer behavior, reveals why the findings obtained from most market research are completely unreliable. Whether it is company executives seeking to define their corporate strategy or polit...
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Philip Graves, one of the world's leading experts in consumer behavior, reveals why the findings obtained from most market research are completely unreliable. Whether it is company executives seeking to define their corporate strategy or politicians wanting to understand the electorate, the idea that questions answered on a questionnaire or discussed in a focus group can provide useful insights on which to base business decisions is the cause of product failures, political blunders and wasted billions. Consumer.ology exposes some of the most expensive examples of research-driven thinking clouding judgment, experience and evidence - from New Coke to General Motors, from Mattel to the Millennium Dome - and instances of success through ignoring market research, such as Baileys and Doctor Who. It also shows organizations the tools they should be using if they want to understand their customers. Using his unique AFECT approach, a set of five criteria to evaluate the reliability of any consumer insight, Graves asserts that it's time for a fresh approach that embraces this new understanding of human behavior.

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Editorial Reviews


"This book is a real eye-opener and I would recommend it for any manager at any stage in their career. Ranking 5/5." - Professional Manager Magazine

"...It's well written, accessible and entertaining, yet thought provoking. Consumer.ology is a rich digest of insights on consumer psychology. It should be essential reading for marketers and general managers, and carefully hidden away from anyone whose livelihood depends on market research." - Alan Giles, Fellow of The Marketing Society and Associate Fellow, Said Business School, University of Oxford

The problem with consumers is that they are incapable of understanding their purchasing behavior. Why? Because it is actually driven by the unconscious. Consumer.ology author Philip Graves is a lecturer on consumer behavior and a consultant for associated studies for companies including Whirlpool, Virgin Media, and Pepsi. He has come to the bold conclusion that market studies and focus groups are useless. He asserts that the most accurate information about consumer needs comes from analysis of data gathered in real situations, where people are not aware that they are being observed. Fortunately, the Internet offers a vast territory for observation, because people leave countless traces of their behavior and telling comments. Keeping quiet and listening to consumers is actually just as important as communicating with them, and people often speak more honestly when no questions have been asked. (Business Digest)

About the Author

Philip Graves is a consumer behavior consultant, author and speaker. He has been described as "one of the world's leading consumer behavior experts" (Kevin Hogan); "one of the world's pre-eminent consumer behavior consultants" (Cambridge Business Magazine); and "one of ten original thinkers whose ideas will help shape Britain's recovery."(Director). 

Through his consultancy business, he has advised numerous international businesses, including Sky, ITV, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, BBC, Whirlpool, and Virgin Media. In addition, Philip has been invited to speak to audiences around the world about consumer behavior, including the UK Cabinet Office, theEuropean Union Consumer Affairs Unit, The Royal Agricultural Society, BBC Radio5 Live, BBC Radio Scotland, and America’s Morning News. He currently writes a column on consumer psychology for the Chartered Institute of Marketing's magazine, The Marketer.

Along side his own business, Shift Consultancy, Philip is an associate of FrontierEconomics. 

See his website at


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpfulBy Jay on June 13, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
As a consumer psychology professional this is one of the most refreshing and honest business books that I have read. I highly suggest to any marketer, business owner, or consumer psychology professional to read this book. Graves pulls no punches, lays out the research and demonstrates the fact that as consumers go we are not nearly as cognitive or intentional when it comes to buying behavior as we would like to credit ourselves.

Unfortunately the general public and much of psychology attempts to dismiss the fact that majority of our behavior is automatic, reflexive, or dare I say unconscious. Graves demonstrates through sound research that we are easily influenced by our environments despite our attempt to try and overcome them with thinking.

This book has tremendous practical value for business. He points out the seriousness of applying sound psychological behavioral principles that are measurable. He clearly demonstrates throughout the book that we are not nearly as cognizant of what we do (which makes the typical consumer automatically react with anger by the way) when it comes to purchasing behavior as we believe and offers sound suggestions for improving how we can measure consumer behavior in business.

The bottom line is this: The research is empirical, robust and accurate. His principles are well founded. Your business will be better for it. Buy the book!


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