Decoded: The Science Behind Why We Buy. Phil Barden. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, 2013. 270 pages

We can’t always explain why we buy what we buy. Some product aspects, such as price and quality, are obvious factors in our decision-making process, but often times, it’s the less obvious product attributes that get us to buy. Decoded: The Science Behind Why We Buy, written by Phil Barden, explores human psychology and how it plays a role in marketing and consumers purchasing decisions. Author, Phil Barden, is an experienced marketing professional, who has done brand development for big name companies such as T-Mobile and Unilever. Barden applies his marketing expertise to studies in human psychology to show how marketers can leverage psychology to improve advertising campaigns and overall branding strategies.

Barden approaches this complex topic by first explaining the fundamentals of how people process visual information. After learning the science, Barden expands on how our psychological processes influence us when we see products, brands, store shelves, commercials and more. He uses many example images of real life products, packages and advertisement campaigns throughout the book to further explain how the complex concepts he explains can be applied in real world situations.

Decoded: The Science Behind Why We Buy takes the word science very seriously. For someone in the advertising world, the in-depth scientific explanations of human psychology often made the book feel dense and difficult to understand. I often found that I needed to read sentences, or even entire sections, over again to really grasp the point. While the book could be a bit dense at times, the concepts it presents offer an entirely new perspective on marketing and branding. It makes readers aware of details in a campaign that are often overlooked, but that can be the difference between a market success and a market flop.