Decoding the New Consumer Mind: How and Why We Shop and Buy
March 2014, Jossey-Bass
Take a glimpse into the mind of the modern consumer
A decade of swift and stunning change has profoundly affected the psychology of how, when, and why we shop and buy. In Decoding the New Consumer Mind, award-winning consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow shares surprising insights about the new motivations and behaviors of shoppers, taking marketers where they need to be today: into the deeply psychological and often unconscious relationships that people have with products, retailers, marketing communications, and brands.
Drawing on hundreds of consumer interviews and shop-alongs, Yarrow reveals the trends that define our transformed behavior. For example, when we shop we show greater emotionality, hunting for more intense experiences and seeking relief and distraction online. A profound sense of isolation and individualism shapes the way we express ourselves and connect with brands and retailers. Neurological research even suggests that our brains are rewired, altering what we crave, how we think, and where our attention goes.
Decoding the New Consumer Mind provides marketers with practical ways to tap into this new consumer psychology, and Yarrow shows how to combine technology and innovation to enhance brand image; win love and loyalty through authenticity and integrity; put the consumer’s needs and preferences front and center; and deliver the most emotionally intense, yet uncomplicated, experience possible. Armed with Yarrow’s strategies, marketers will be able to connect more effectively with consumersdriving profit and success across the organization.
Foreword by Paco Underhilll ix
Part One THe New Consumer MInd
1 Rewired Brains 11
2 Isolation and Individualism 45
3 Intensified Emotions 79
Part Two Strategies to connect with today’s New consumer
4 Technovation 123
5 The Real Deal 137
6 Involvement 153
7 Intensity 167
Acknowledgments and Gratitude 199
About the Author 203
KIT YARROW, Ph.D., is an award-winning consumer research psychologist, professor, consultant, and keynote speaker. She chairs the psychology department at Golden Gate University, with a joint appointment as a professor of psychology and marketing, and was recognized as the university’s 2012 Outstanding Scholar. Kit writes for Time and Psychology Today. She is also the coauthor of Gen BuY: How Tweens, Teens, and Twenty-Somethings Are Revolutionizing Retail (Jossey-Bass, 2009). Kit is regularly quoted in a variety of media, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Marketplace, USA Today, and Good Morning America. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
For more information, please visit kityarrow.com.
“In the world of shopping, Decoding the New Consumer
Mind will make waves. This important book explains it all,
uncovering where we are going and showing how individuals and
companies can advance their offerings as well as their bottom
—from the foreword by Paco Underhill, CEO, Envirosell, and author, Why We Buy
“When I read ‘the past is no longer prologue’
in the opening chapter, I knew Kit Yarrow was on to something.
Flexibility is more important than strategies grounded in past
consumer experience. Kit illustrates this with fine research and
stories of real people coping in our world of overload,
overindulgence, and isolation. A must-read if you are a marketer, a
retailer, a manufacturer, or a consumer trying to understand how
the rules have changed.”
—Peter Stringham, chairman and CEO, Young & Rubicam Group
“The pace of change at retail is breathtaking and nowhere
is that more evident than in ecommerce. Kit’s emphasis on the
major drivers of this change, including the need for authenticity,
continuous innovation, and building community, is right on the
money. Decoding the New Consumer Mind is full of great
insights, fascinating cases, and actionable ideas.”
—Susan Feldman, cofounder and chief merchandising officer, One Kings Lane
“Yarrow’s concept of the radical individualism of
consumers is inspiring but challenging. Her solution of promoting
trust through connection is absolutely on target.”
—Richard Edelman, president and CEO, Edelman
“Kit digs deeply into how and why people shop, perfectly
putting into perspective how time has changed today’s shopper
and how retailers must adjust to those changes. Decoding the New
Consumer Mind is entertaining, insightful, and chock-full of
recommendations for retailers.”
—Matthew Shay, president and CEO, National Retail Federation
“Kit brings a unique combination of academic prowess and
keen contemporary insight to all her work. With her trademark
frankness and humor, she documents three major psychological shifts
that have profoundly impacted how consumers shop and buy.
Decoding the New Consumer Mind is an absolute must-read for
any business that intends on thriving in the new consumer
—Doug Stephens, founder, Retail Prophet, and author, The Retail Revival
The essential action plan for marketers on how, when, and why today’s radically transformed retail consumer shops and buys
A decade of swift and stunning change has profoundly affected consumer psychology, and consequently how, when and why people shop and buy. Not only are social media and online engagement driving a dramatic shift in marketing methods, but a trifecta of factors has changed the fundamental behavior and decision-making processes of consumers in the retail environment—a fact all marketers should take into consideration.
Dr. Kit Yarrow, the award-winning and nationally-recognized consumer research psychologist, releases her latest book, Decoding the New Consumer Mind: How and Why We Shop and Buy (Jossey-Bass; 978-1-118-64768-4; April 2014; $27.00) and offersinsights about the new motivations and behaviors of today’s shoppers and takes marketers where they need to be today - into the deeply psychological and often unconscious relationships that people have with products, retailers, marketing communications and brands.
Drawing on hundreds of consumer interviews and shop-alongs, Yarrow reveals the trends that define our transformed behavior today. Decoding the New Consumer Mind explains how three sociocultural forces are transforming shoppers:
• Rewired Brains: More important that what we do with technology what it’s doing to us. We literally think differently – for example, we crave more intensity, have less tolerance for complexity and gravitate toward visual images over words. Our use of technology has changed our relationships, motivations and decision-making processes.
- “Isolation and Individualism”: Despite a deluge of social media contacts, research shows that we feel more isolated. This is compounded by record-low levels of trust in nearly every type of establishment. As a result we’re more “me”- oriented, wary and self-protective shoppers.
- Intensified Emotions: Though still optimistic, today’s consumers are also more stressed, anxious and angry than ever before. Option overload, the velocity of change, and increases in rudeness and narcissism have all contributed. Among other things, the more emotional shopper wants control, simplicity, and immediate emotional benefits.
Decoding the New Consumer Mind provides marketers with practical ways to tap into this new consumer psychology. Yarrow shows how to combine technology and innovation to enhance brand image; win love and loyalty through authenticity and integrity; put the consumer’s needs and preferences front and center; and deliver the most emotionally intense, yet uncomplicated, experience possible.
Grounded in Yarrow’s award-winning research on consumer psychology, Decoding the New Consumer Mind provides rich examples of these shifts in action in the marketing strategies and consumer behavior seen by major firms and brands, many of whom are Yarrow’s clients, including: Kleenex, Desigual, Kraft Foods, eBay, Hershey’s, and many more.