Despite cynicism in general toward the persuasion industry and new technologies that allow people to bypass advertising in some contexts (using TiVo, DVRs, website ad blockers), author Rob Walker contends that people are increasingly finding value by bringing their own meanings and interpretations to brands. Using varied examples including Hello Kitty, Timberland, Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR), Red Bull, and the iPod, Walker cites case after case where the consumer brings her own meaning to the brand, often ascribing an interpretation totally unanticipated by the company owning and marketing the brand. Bottom up interest in pink Timberlands is just one of many examples from the text.
This phenomenon has led to what Walker calls "murketing", partially a range of tactics that blur the lines of the traditional sales pitch, but also a whole new, closely-connected relationship between consumer and brand. Murketing includes brands quietly sponsoring extreme sports and music, tapping popular youth as commercial persuaders, and facilitating buzz agents to push products in everyday conversation.
I've only touched on what you'll find in Buying In, but if you have any interest in what we buy and why, like me, you will probably find this fascinating.
You can also learn more about the author and find links to his popular "Consumed" column at http://www.robwalker.net/contents/consumed.html.