How Customers Think

How Customers Think: Essential Insights Into the Mind of the Market by Gerald Zaltman

Despite the resources spent on market research, nearly 80 percent of new offerings fail. The pattern is predictable: Customers say they want something, companies create it, and once it’s available, customers don’t buy it. Why? Is it because customers just don’t know what they want? Gerald Zaltman sorts through this puzzle and concludes that, at some level, customers do know, but marketing’s most overused tools-surveys, questionnaires, and focus groups-and conventional thinking don’t dig deeply enough to help them discover and express it.


In this mind-opening book, Zaltman argues that 95 percent of thinking happens in our unconscious. Therefore, unearthing your customers’ desires requires you to understand the “mind of the market,” that dynamic interplay between the consumers’ and the marketers’ thoughts that determines the outcome of every buying decision.


Building on research from disciplines as diverse as neurology, sociology, literary analysis, and cognitive science, Zaltman offers rich insights into what happens within the complex system of mind, brain, body, and society as consumers contemplate their needs and evaluate products. Zaltman illustrates how leading companies are “mining the unconscious” -with remarkable results, and introduces innovative tools and techniques that help marketers:

* Develop research questions that speak to the unconscious brain.

* Evoke valuable meaning through a customer’s metaphors-and instill those images in brand communications.

* Measure consumer reactions to marketing stimuli-and alter advertising or positioning strategies accordingly.

* Build “consensus maps” that reflect a market segment’s universal thinking-and reengineer them to boost customer satisfaction, loyalty, and sales.

* Understand how their own minds work-and how they can think in creative new ways.


The mind of the market is waiting to be explored. Make sure your competitors don’t get there first. (

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