12 Great Resources for Diving Into Consumer Psychology Check out these books, talks and courses, some of which are free, to really understand what makes your customers tick.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
It probably goes without saying, but the more you know about how people think, the better you'll be able to leverage these thought processes and internal justifications to make sales. But if you don't have time to go back to college and earn a degree in this fascinating branch of the social sciences, check out any of the following resources to dive into consumer psychology:
1. The Complete Guide to Understanding Consumer Psychology (free)
Neil Patel's Quicksprout site is packed full of helpful guides, and his free "Complete Guide to Understanding Consumer Psychology" is no exception. It's a lengthy read that's broken down into seven easy-to-digest chapters, but it's a great comprehensive primer on the subject of consumer behavior.
2. Increasing Online Sales 101 (free)
All of Derek Halpern's popular Social Triggers site deserves a spot on your must-read blog list, but I'd recommend taking a look at his free ecourse on increasing online sales in particular. You'll need to provide your name and email address to opt in, but once enrolled, you'll get some of Halpern's best consumer psychology tips.
3. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition ($10.16)
Robert Cialdini's seminal book is a must-have for anybody who's interested in the science behind what makes people take action. It's packed with the results of experiments Cialdini conducted at Arizona State University, but it's surprisingly accessible for such a research-intensive tome.
4. Decoding the New Consumer Mind: How and Why We Shop and Buy ($12.99)
Consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow conducted hundreds of "shop-alongs" and consumer interviews, all with the goal of determining why buyers made the choices they did. The results of her experiences, as well as the lessons marketers can draw from her conclusions, make for a very interesting read.
5. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions ($8.16)
Curious why people profess to get more relief from a brand-name medication than its generic counterpart? Dan Ariely, an MIT professor with a more than 20-year tenure, has the answers to this question and more in his discussion of our curious habit for behaving irrationally in highly-predictable patterns.
6. Consumer Behavior: Buying, Having and Being ($83.44)
Make no mistake -- this isn't light reading. It's the same textbook used by colleges and universities around the country, but you don't need a professor to benefit from the information it includes. If you've read the books above and are looking to deepen your knowledge of consumer psychology, look no further than Michael Solomon's classic textbook.
7. Predicting Consumer Decisions with Choice-Based Conjoint ($68.00)
Choice-based conjoint is a specific experimental protocol that will help you to predict consumers' behavior and future choices. If you're only looking to improve your website sales or tweak your sales funnel in small ways, this deep dive may not be for you. But if you're interested in carrying out your own consumer psychology experiments, this is an accessible option for learning the necessary methodology.
8. An Introduction to Consumer Neuroscience and Neuromarketing (free)
Alternatively, if you want a deeper education, but don't plan to conduct your own experiments, take a look at the Copenhagen Business School's Coursera entry on neuroscience and neuromarketing. It's a free six-week program that'll leave you with a far greater understanding of how we make decisions as consumers.
9. John Gerzema: The Post-Consumer Crisis (free)
In this free video, marketing expert John Gerzema discusses four cultural shifts that are influencing consumer behavior, while also providing examples of businesses that are taking advantage of these trends. At just over 16 minutes in length, it's a quick and easy primer on this interesting subject.
10. Malcolm Gladwell: Choice, Happiness and Spaghetti Sauce (free)
Why has a video on what consumers look for in a spaghetti sauce earned more than five million views on the TED website? I won't spoil its secrets for you, but trust me when I say that journalist Malcolm Gladwell turns a seemingly-innocuous subject into an insightful discussion on the nature of consumer choice and happiness.
11. Dan Ariely: Are We In Control of Our Own Decisions? (free)
Don't feel like reading the entire Predictably Irrational book listed above? Ariely's TED talk offers a quick glimpse into the research he's conducted, which demonstrates that we aren't nearly as rational as we like to think we are when we make decisions.
12. Journal of Consumer Research
Finally, if you're a serious student of the study of consumer psychology, you'll want to bookmark the Journal of Consumer Research's website. Published every two months, the online edition of the publication includes links to all of the scholarly articles within. They can make for dense reads, but the cutting-edge insight into the research scientists are doing on consumer preferences and behaviors are worth it.
What else belongs on this list? Share your resource recommendations in the comments section below!
Related: The 5 Most Popular TED Talks of All Time