• David de Souza

The Hidden Persuaders Summary

Updated: Jul 9


Older books often contain hidden gems of insights. This book was no exception. The biggest take away was: A great marketer has the ability to express powerful, hidden reasonings indirectly because some reasoning is socially unacceptable. They can not be expressed openly. The buyer would reject them.

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Core Principles:


I have summarised 'The Hidden Persuaders', distilling the book into 13 core principles:

  1. Do not trust people to act in a rational manner. Their behavior makes sense when you consider their deeper needs, goals, and motives.

  2. Even when people know their likes and dislike you cannot trust them to be accurate. The answers they will tell you are those that think sound sensible, intelligent, and rational.

  3. You want the customer to be loyal and loving towards your brand even when there is little difference between your products and your competition. To create this 'illogical loyalty' create differentiation in the mind of the buyer.

  4. "When irrational acts are committed knowingly they become a delicious luxury."

  5. Create the image that people want to see of themselves and sell that.

  6. Conspicuous Reserve - A common technique of people in a secure, high social position. The desire to show their status but to do so in a modest way. They show their superiority by highlighting their indifference to status. They buy old station wagons and deliberately downgrade.

  7. Products that are too good or too high status may cause people to ask: "Am I good enough for this product?"

  8. When buying, there is often conflict between pleasure and guilt. When selling, provide moral permission for the person to have fun without guilt. Offer absolution:. "You deserve it" or "It's the right thing to do."

  9. There are two opposing forces 'desire' and 'resistance' when one is greater than the other, the purchasing decision is made. The longer the decision is being considered, the higher the tension becomes, and eventually the purchase will be made.

  10. People pay less for soap compared to a cream. Soap only makes you clean while the cream sells the hope of beauty. You are buying the promise. We do not buy vegetables, we buy the hope of health. We do not buy a car, we buy the promise of prestige.

  11. A great marketer has the ability to express powerful, hidden reasonings indirectly because some reasoning is socially unacceptable. They can not be expressed openly. The buyer would reject them.

  12. Status symbols are important to people caught in a stratified company (or life).

  13. Hidden Motivations are:

  • Emotional Security

  • Reassurance of Worth

  • Ego Gratification

  • Creative Outlets

  • Sense of Power

  • Roots

  • Immortality


Let me know how these summaries can be improved? Contact me via Email (david@thisdomain.co) or on Twitter.



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