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Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are

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3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  802 Ratings  ·  122 Reviews
“Fascinating … A compelling blend of cultural anthropology and business journalism.” — Andrea Sachs, Time Magazine

“An often startling tour of new cultural terrain.” — Laura Miller, Salon

“Marked by meticulous research and careful conclusions, this superbly readable book confirms New York Times journalist Walker as an expert on consumerism. … [A] thoughtful and unhurried i
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Hardcover, 261 pages
Published June 3rd 2008 by Random House (first published January 1st 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,541)
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Gk
Jun 20, 2008 Gk rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Jamie Schweser
Shelves: nonfiction
Much more than a simple, cocktail party business book -- it's an attentive, subtle and entertaining meditation that not only uncovers the latest trends in buying, selling and marketing but also pushes readers to consider larger questions beyond these subjects. Personally, since finishing the book, I've taken a harder look at my purchases and what they mean to my larger sense of identity. Not that this is some kind of Chicken Soup for the Marketing Soul, but Walker isn't afraid to follow his many ...more
Ashley
I was really expecting to like this book more - the premise was far more interesting than the book itself.

My main complaints are that it felt disorganized to me - Walker would be discussing murketing in the 80's for example (murketing = murky marketing), and then switch gears to discussing brands, only to jump back to talking about murketing in the 90's. There was too much back and forth between time periods and topics, which gave the overall feeling of disconnectedness. There was also a lot mo
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Marci
Mar 22, 2009 Marci rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I got this in a socialist bookstore which, with its focus, made me think that it would be a kind of 2008 update of Naomi Klein’s “No Logo”. Instead, it reads like a primer for brand marketers, and, in fact, its back cover is full of praises sung by business journalists. Its author, Rob Walker, is a columnist in the business press.

Walker’s oft-stated thesis – that, despite marketers’ claims to the contrary, marketing is alive and kicking, just taking some different forms – would work better for
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Cinnamon
May 09, 2012 Cinnamon rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. As a small biz owner I am often looking for ideas on how to advertise or spread the word about what I do without being unauthentic to who I am and what I do and what my overarching biz and cultural goals are. This book didn't provide me with ideas on how to advertise better, but it did offer insight into how advertising works, doesn't work, and sometimes isn't needed. Sometimes, having the best product is all that matters in the end. He does have a chapter ...more
Frank
Jan 23, 2016 Frank rated it it was amazing
The message of Buying In is that while modern consumers have becomes smarter and more discriminating, they are nonetheless embracing brands like never before.

Despite cynicism in general toward the persuasion industry and new technologies that allow people to bypass advertising in some contexts (using TiVo, DVRs, website ad blockers), author Rob Walker contends that people are increasingly finding value by bringing their own meanings and interpretations to brands. Using varied examples including
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Todd Stockslager
Jun 08, 2015 Todd Stockslager rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
Does what we buy define who we are? I won't tell you the punch line, you'll have to read to the last line of Walker's book to find the answer.

This is a popular study of marketing and consumers--why we buy, and how marketing affects what and how we choose to buy. Walker considers and rejects the two extremes often supposed to be true today:

--consumers (especially younger ones) are cynical and way too smart to buy the marketing hype.

--marketing is so smart and pervasive that nothing we buy is "aut
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Elizabeth Luttinger
Aug 15, 2014 Elizabeth Luttinger rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Precocious high school students who might be interested in market and PR
"Buying In" presents most of its information in examples of brands and their marketing. The examples are excellently chosen and very fascinating, from Red Bull to PBR to Timberland to Converse to Kia. However, the book is a bit dated and could use more relevant examples. For example, American Apparel is referenced, but from about 2006, and since then a lot has changed with the company's ethics, how they market themselves, and the owner's sexual proclivities.
I'd lump the book in with other pop sc
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Melissa
This book was a great beginning point for those who are interested in marketing. Everything stated in a book about effective marketing and whatnot should be taken with a grain of salt because it is never so simple.

This book uses case studies to help prove the authors point. And these case studies lead to some very interesting conclusions about mankind.

Reading this I came across a few lines that I thought would help someone get a feel for this book.

"Branding is really a process of attaching an id
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El Aguila
Dec 12, 2015 El Aguila rated it it was amazing
Very interesting read. This study is not a critique nor does it praise modern consumer habits. Rather through various broad themed case studies, it analyzes how individuals, the consumer market, advertisers, and companies all interact with one another in purposeful and unintended ways that determine which products will sell while others fail. This book is based on many oral interviews ranging from the founders of Red Bull to the CEOs of large corporations such as Walmart. It also references many ...more
Lauren
Jan 03, 2014 Lauren rated it it was amazing
The title of the book comes across as a little hokey but I really enjoyed it. It's easy to read and I think that is because the author usually writes for magazines so the chapters are broken up into easy-to-digest pieces.

As the title says the book is about the dialogue between what we buy and who we are; how marketing effects consumers and consumers effect marketing. There are several examples drawn upon with brands such as Hello Kitty, Timberland, Scion, American Apparel, and Red Bull. There is
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Rossdavidh
Sep 08, 2015 Rossdavidh rated it really liked it
Shelves: white
Subtitle: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are

So, there are people who make it their task to analyze the relationship between consumer and producer. They are normally in the pay of the latter, who really ought to be called "seller" because they may not actually have produced anything (e.g. Apple pays somebody else to make their electronic devices). Rob Walker, unusually, is one of these people, but not primarily as a creator of ad campaigns, but rather as someone who analyzes t
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thewestchestarian
Dec 04, 2009 thewestchestarian rated it really liked it
Rob Walker, who writes an always intriguing NY Times column on marketing and consumer culture, pulls together what he has learned about brands, beliefs and what we buy in well-structured discussion with a number of fascinating stories. The book would still be worth the read if it contained only Walker’s expanded versions of his columns recounting unusual brand stories such as Hello Kitty (the secret to the logo’s power is its missing mouth), Red Bull (built by spending $100mil on goofy undergrou ...more
Stop
Jan 05, 2009 Stop added it
Shelves: interviewees
Read the STOP SMILING interview with New York Times Magazine columnist and Buying In author Rob Walker:

While many of us fancy ourselves modern-day Holden Caulfields as we call out the phonies in the world of advertising and marketing, few have articulated their positions with the degree of clarity as Rob Walker. Rather than simply bristling at Doves’ “real beauty” ad campaign or railing on Nike’s purchase of Converse, the Savannah-based writer encourages us to consider how our behavior and attit
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Marfita
Dec 29, 2009 Marfita rated it really liked it
Shelves: anthropology-etc
Starting with investigating his own relationship with his Converse Chucks and his rejection of Nike (who now apparently owns Converse), Walker debunks the received wisdom of Old Advertising that consumers are manipulated into needing things they had hithertofore lived happily without. Advertising now seems to just validate what the consumer had already decided. Besides, who actually makes conscious decisions? Doesn't your brain just decide and then you spend time rationalizing?
Walker was in at t
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Elizabeth
Feb 27, 2009 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
from the library c2008 murketing.com
Everything I have read so far is great. e-ching reading

ch 1 the pretty good problem is what is there to choose when the field is full of adequate competiters
"the goal of the rational consumer is 'maximize utility'"

the desire code:utility, economical, and authentic

authentic is "you can't help but be attracted to them because they lived by their instincts." referring to some skateboarders who started a youth culture

authentic competes with invented symbolic meani
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Benjamin
Sep 03, 2008 Benjamin rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An interesting book profiling corporate america's desire to sell you stuff and people thoughts about how they are immune to it while at the same time company's are still sneaking things into your subconscious. The author coins the term "Murketing" to descibe the combination of murky, somewhat underhanded marketing that this entails. The promotion of this book on GoodReads makes me think that the author has learned a thing or two about promotion during his interviews...

A selection from the book r
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Andrew
Dec 22, 2008 Andrew rated it liked it
“Buying In” is about the role consumers play in modern advertising (or as Walker calls it, the “commercial persuasion” industry). Whereas in the past consumers were presented with a marketing message by the advertising company, consumers now have a much greater ability to shape that message. Through numerous examples of business that employ this “murketing” strategy (a neologism that conveys the murky quality of modern marketing), we see how companies can no longer expect to force a particular m ...more
Trena
Feb 21, 2011 Trena rated it it was ok
Wow was this book disappointing. Rob Walker is a columnist and it showed in the superficial, anecdotal treatment of the topics. While the book has an ambitious subtitle, it does not actually get into the psychological aspects of buying on the consumer end, which is to what I assume the subtitle alludes. Granted, I only read halfway through before having to return to the library, but I flipped through the remainder to see if I was missing anything and it didn't appear that I was.

The premise seems
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Wellington
Aug 16, 2009 Wellington rated it liked it

This sometimes fascinating, sometimes long-winded book explains about "murkablity". Murkablity = Murky + Modern
Marketing.

Walker draws on the such histories as Proctor & Gamble, Timberland, Red Bull, Axe, and Ecko. It gave me a pause because I, like most Americans, consider myself wizened to the ploys of modern marketing. If we are all so immune to marketing ploys how come our collective behavior and buying habits say otherwise?

Some of the points that stuck out of me: how a labeled can of C
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Scotchneat
Jul 27, 2011 Scotchneat rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Walker writes about brandonomics for Wired, and this book is an extension of his insights gained over the years.

I like that he writes about case studies and brands that most people will recognize, as I think it helps with "learning". His thesis is that, contrary to what people will tell you and pundits will tell you, it's not that advertising no longer works, it's that it's not driven by marketeers.

Walker calls this cultural shift "murketing", meaning a place where people create their own brands
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Sarah
Jul 25, 2008 Sarah rated it really liked it
Recommended to Sarah by: consumerist.com
This is a wonderful look at the modern state of the marketing industry in light of the decline in importance of the thirty-second spot.

As Walker points out, via several choice quotes from articles from the 20's and 30's, the advertising industry has been mourning the appearance of the "savvy young consumer" who "sees though advertising" since before television sets made their way into American homes. But there's a vast difference between seeing through advertising and being impervious to its bla
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Nicholas
Aug 24, 2008 Nicholas rated it liked it
Shelves: marketing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Todd N
Aug 25, 2008 Todd N rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle
I work for an advertising/media company (albeit one that thinks of itself as a technology company), so I was very interested to read a glowing review of this book about marketing in the New York Times a few weeks ago.

This book is an attempt to sum up the latest trends in marketing and to shine some light on the American consumer's twisted and complex relationship with the concept of "brand."

The most shocking thing I learned in this book (which seems sort of obvious to me know) is that every gene
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Heather Denkmire
Sep 05, 2010 Heather Denkmire rated it it was ok
Eh. At first I was enjoying it because he calls on my favorite topic of framing reality using metaphor. Referencing the scientific study of how our brains work, that logic is informed by emotional content based on meanings we ascribe to everything, etc. etc. I was still enjoying it about half-way through because he kept coming up with neat little interesting points. But then it started to get boring. Sorry for that lame review, but, I'd heard enough about skateboard culture and... well, it was j ...more
Tiffany
I tend to think that I'm a pretty intelligent person, and more or less immune to marketing gimmicks and whatnot. So when I read the opening of Buying In, where Rob Walker states that polls show that 77% of people asked said they're "more aware" of marketing efforts than others, and 66% said they're "better critical thinkers than their typical peer," I decided maybe I'm not as smart as I think I am.

Based on that, I then expected the book to be much more about ways that we're tricked into buying
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Gphatty
Jul 28, 2008 Gphatty rated it liked it
I'm a little late writing this review, so I don't remember as much as I would like. The jist of the book -- how marketing has changed in the last couple of decades -- is pretty much what the whole book is about. Each chapter takes an idea of marketing, or a brand, or a company, and demonstrates how modern marketers are trying to get the word out there about the products they have been paid to sell. Lots of anecdotes and examples; some over-arching theory.

It is definitely a quick & enlighteni
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Wm
It is quite likely, although by no means assured, that when it comes out this summer Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are will take its rightful place alongside such paradigm shifting titles as The World is Flat, Freakonomics, Applebee's America, The Tipping Point, etc. Like most of its compatriots Buying In relies heavily on expert interviews and case studies to explore how the world has changed over the past 10 years or so. In this case -- marketing, branding and c ...more
Jennifer
Jul 23, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Through measurable social science studies, observations and interviews, and a sprinkling of pure conjecture, Rob Walker deconstructs the relationship between ourselves and our stuff in Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are.

I’ve maintained a keen interest in corporate marketing (which I now know to call the consumer persuasion industry) since my law school days, when I supplemented my meager student loan and part-time work income by participating in market research stu
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Christina
May 10, 2009 Christina rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2009
I really wanted to like this book, because I agreed with the author's premise: the old rules of advertising and marketing no longer apply, we have reached the age of "murketing"- stunts, word of mouth campaigns, etc. I also identified with Rob Walker's assessment of the consumer's desire code: everyone wants to be known as an individual yet at the same time be identified as part of a group.

I just didn't identify with many of the brands discussed in this book: Red Bull, Timberland, various fashio
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Tyler
Apr 18, 2014 Tyler rated it liked it
There's a lot of food for thought in here but I wish the author had hammered home some of the points because it's all rather ambiguous as to what to think. I still don't really see the point of any of this thinking other than, if you buy anything you were gotten to either directly or indirectly by marketing.
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I joined Goodreads in April 2008, and my bookshelf tracks a) only what I've read since then, and b) only voluntary reading, leaving out the [many] books I *have to* read for work and research.

PS For whatever reason, Goodreads can't get its act together on making it easy for me to remove superfluous books that are listed here as things I've written. If you see something that seems unlikely listed i
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