I’ve been reading a fascinating book called Spent, written by Geoffrey Miller, an evolutionary psychologist/marketing consultant from the University of New Mexico.
I recall a weird dinner discussion I had a few years ago with an OZA colleague in which I argued that all human behavior comes down to one of two motivations:
- Avoiding death
- Getting laid
I have found sort of a kindred spirit in Miller. This book focuses mostly on motivation #2. He discusses how cars, cosmetics, online gaming, televisions, and other consumer products signal our evolutionary fitness to other people.
He also discusses the so-called “Central Six” traits (general intelligence, openness, conscientiousness, agreeableness, stability, and extraversion) in a chapter called “Traits that Consumers Flaunt and Marketers Ignore.”
Miller occasionally takes keen insights and pushes them to a credibility-stretching extreme. For example, if you get a tattoo, are you really doing so to prove that you are fit enough to not die from an infection? Even at an unconscious level? Perhaps, but I'm not quite buying it.
Nevertheless, on balance, it is a thought-provoking book that is quite difficult to put down. Lots of insights here for marketers eager to think creatively about what motivates consumers.