It’s a question that launched a thousand consulting practices (and even more marketing books): Why do 80 percent of all new products or services fail within six months? Rarely has there been an answer as good as that proposed by Gerald Zaltman in his new book, How Customers Think: Essential Insights Into the Mind of the Market (Harvard Business School Press). His proposition: There’s a radical disconnect between the minds of marketers and the mind of the market. That’s not a revolutionary insight, but Zaltman’s approach to the problem is incendiary to marketing as we know it.
According to Zaltman, getting customer-centric means getting in sync with the “complex system of mind, brain, body, and society” that rules consumer behavior. And that means getting interdisciplinary. Zaltman calls on neurobiology, linguistics, and art theory to inject creativity and rigor into marketing.
The first step to higher-order marketing is to digest some “startling truths” about the nature of human communication, thought, emotion, and memory. The technology that changes everything we know about marketing, Zaltman says, is more primordial and more powerful than the Internet: It’s the human brain.