Gad Saad’s groundbreaking work utilizes principles from evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology to reveal how our innate biological drives affect both what we buy and what we consume. These drives, he finds, deeply influence our choices food, clothing styles, and even the films we watch and the music we listen to. Dr. Saad's pioneering work was recently honoured by the Applied Evolutionary Psychology Society in granting him the 2014 Darwinism Applied Award. He also received the President's Media Outreach Award for Research Communicator of the Year (International). This award goes to the professor whose research was most covered by the global media.
Dr. Saad’s new and startling insights into consumer behaviour provide new understanding into why products succeed or fail. Likewise his research provides new understanding into what kinds of marketing and advertising are likely to be effective.
According to Dr. Saad, successful products cater to our biological heritage, and successful marketing and advertising send messages our biological make-up and DNA make us already prone to accept – that speak to our human nature. In a word, he says, “The genes hold consumer behaviour on a leash. “
Among the key biological imperatives important to marketers are these two: our drive to survive and to reproduce. We can see the effect of the survival imperative in our food preferences for fat and calories. Dr. Saad notes that the top ten restaurants in the world (mainly fast food burger outlets) deliver a product laden with fat and calories, catering to our drive to bulk up and avoid starvation during periods of food scarcity that our biological ancestors experienced.
The drive to reproduce ourselves affects our consumer choices in myriad ways, including the cars we drive and the cosmetics we use. Dr. Saad explains that buying and driving a Ferrari or any expensive sports car is the human male’s equivalent of displaying a peacock’s tail in order to attract females. His research has also shown that women are become more concerned with beauty products and services, during the fertile phase of their cycles, in an unconscious biological drive to improve their position in the mating market. Hormones, then, in both men and women, affect consumer behaviour.
These are just a few of the examples Dr. Saad draws from to show that, as he puts it, “Nothing in consumer behaviour makes sense except in the light of evolution.” He further shows that aspects of consumer behaviour governed by evolutionary / biological forces are exactly the same everywhere in the world. They transcend culture and time and are part of a shared biological heritage.
Linking our innate biological drives to our choices as consumers, Dr. Saad answers the question “why we buy” in a fascinating, provocative, and entertaining manner. He is an experienced speaker who had delighted audiences in both popular, business, and academic venues around the world.
His TEDxConcordia talk can be accessed here.
Gad Saad is the author of over seventy-five articles and papers on marketing, advertising, psychology, economics and more, with a focus on the connection between evolution, biology, and consumer behaviour.
His books include:
The Consuming Instinct: What Juicy Burgers, Ferraris, Pornography, and Gift Giving Reveal About Human Nature
The Evolutionary Bases of Consumption
Evolutionary Psychology in the Business Sciences
Gad also writes a blog for Psychology Today. His posts have received over three million views. In August 2016, a global ranking came out that placed Gad at #5 of the Top 100 scientists to follow on Twitter.
His work has been presented and discussed in print and web media throughout the world, including The Economist, Men’s Health, the New York Times, the Guardian, and scientific journals: Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Consumer Psychology, and Personality and Individual Differences. The extensive coverage Saad’s work has garnered have resulted in him being named “Newsmaker of the Week of Concordia University four years running. Gad has made countless appearances on very high-profile shows including Joe Rogan, Dave Rubin Report, Sam Harris's podcast, and many others.
- Professor of Marketing and Research Chair in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences and Darwinian Consumption, Concordia University
- Ph.D, Marketing, M.S. Management, Cornell University
- M.B.A., Marketing, McGill University
- B.Sc., Mathematics and Computer Science, McGill University