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Rating

9 Overall

9 Applicability

9 Innovation

9 Style


Recommendation

In this engaging, wide-ranging survey, journalist Tom Vanderbilt tries to crack the taste code – why people like and dislike what they like and dislike – by researching where museums hang paintings, how Netflix tracks viewer preferences, how the US Army makes “Meals, Ready-to-Eat,” and other examples. Accurately predicting customer preferences is the holy grail for online retailers and services. Companies like Netflix and Amazon maintain a significant market advantage in this quest, thanks to the mountains of data they continually collect on customer behavior and preferences. The inexact nature of taste itself bedevils all predictive efforts: Even customers don’t seem to know why they like what they like. Vanderbilt doesn’t completely resolve this uncertainty – no one ever has – but his enjoyable survey will be of great interest to entrepreneurs, business and sociology students and professors, and to those in the marketing, sales and creative industries.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why people have difficulty explaining their preferences,
  • How cognitive and social factors influence what people like, and
  • How businesses use data to predict what customers will like.
 

About the Author

Tom Vanderbilt is visiting scholar at NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management, a research fellow at the Canadian Centre for Architecture and a fellow at the Design Trust for Public Space. He is also a contributing editor to Wired (UK), Outside and Artforum.

 

Summary

Accounting for Taste

Liking things and disliking other things are among people’s dominant preoccupations. People have strong favorites in food, colors, art and entertainment. Everyone is just as definite, if not more so, about what they don’t like.


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