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The Laws of Choice

The Laws of Choice

  • reading group guide
How do customers decide what products and brands to buy? With the rise of sophisticated advertising and marketing research methods in this century, business leaders have spent billions of dollars attempting to answer this perplexing question. Occasionally, analysts emerge with suggestive trends, but ultimately with little hard evidence to support any definitive "laws" of customer choice.
Now, in this much-anticipated major work, Eric Marder reveals how universal patterns in survey responses lead not only to general principles in marketing but to empirically verifiable laws of human nature itself. Drawing on forty years of applying his pioneering experimental design techniques to marketing research surveys, Marder presents a global theory of choice behavior, supported by original data reported here for the first time from thousands of massive real-life experiments based on millions of interviews. His dramatic findings about pricing, optimal marketing tactics, product evaluation, the relative role of product and image, and advertising effectiveness will make this book required reading for the entire marketing community. Of special interest to social scientists and survey research practitioners will be Marder's powerful research designs and techniques, including the unbounded write-in scale for measuring desirability (attitude) and his methodological analyses of the relationships among beliefs (perceptions), desires, choice, and behavior.
In the Preface, he writes: "At the core of the theory are three laws of choice behavior the Law of Congruence, the Law of Primacy, and the Law of Persistence. These laws are both general and self-evident. At first glance, they are so self-evident that you might say: 'I have known this all along.' My reply is: 'Of course you have known it all along. But there is a difference between knowing and knowing, between the passive knowing that allows us to persist in actions that are inconsistent with what we know, and the active knowing that helps us change the way we do things.' I believe that knowing the laws of choice behavior-really knowing them -- changes the way we do things. My crass but stringent criterion has been that a good theory should enable someone equipped with it to make more money than someone who isn't. I believe my theory has passed this test."
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  • Free Press | 
  • 464 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780684835457 | 
  • July 1997
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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Group Questions
1. What is marketing? Are there common elements in the marketing of a consumer product, an industrial product, a prescription drug, a political candidate? What, if any, are these common elements? (Chapter 1)
2. When should the analysis of a study be performed: before collecting the data or after? And how many measures for a variable should the analysis use: as many as possible or only a single one? (Chapter 3)
3. What re the respective roles of judgment and research in making business decisions? What is the proper contribution of each? (Chapters 2, 3)
4. If I want to know how many people will buy my product, can I just ask them whether they will buy my product or not? If yes, what will their answers tell me? If no, why not? (Chapter 4, Chapter 11)
5. How should pricing decisions be made? Are there any general principles for pricing? What are they? (Chapter 6)
6. How can I find out which of two variants of a product is better? If I test the variants, should I test them blind or identified? Should I use a "paired comparison" test, in which people are given both variants an report which one they like better? And how do I go about improving my brand? (Chapter 8, 9, 10)
7. What must I do to plan marketing strategy systematically? How can I find out why people choose what they choose? How can I find out which factors are most important? (Chapters 15, 16)
8. What are the objectives of advertising? Can the effe see more

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