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Best strategy & research books to read in 2024

In a world where staying ahead of the curve is crucial, diving into the right resources can make all the difference. But the big question is of course ‘where do I start?’

Our ebook, 24 Essential Books for Researchers in 2024, is your go-to list.

24 research books that will help you understand the hallmarks of effective strategy, uncover hidden truths of human behavior through big data, and delve into the creative magic behind branding in everyday life. You will be able to recognize the subtle forces influencing our decisions and unlock the psychology of consumer behavior.

As a sneak peek, here’s everything you need to know about five standout strategy books from our list that will each sharpen your strategic thinking and inspire you to create your own competitive advantage.

Free eBook: 24 Essential Books for Researchers in 2024

1. Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters

By Richard Rumelt

What better place to start than the fundamental differences between winning and losing strategies?

UCLA professor and revered strategy legend, Richard Rumelt, breaks down the bad strategy elements to avoid, like vague objectives and empty slogans, and the good strategy components to never miss. From a solid diagnosis of the challenge to a guiding policy to tackle it and coherent actions to carry it out – complemented by frameworks from leading minds like Michael Porter – Rumelt wants his reader to understand the core principles of strategic thinking.

Brilliantly complementing these principles – which can, in many ways, be seen as modern extensions of the strategic principles found in "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu, one of the best strategy books in history – Rumelt’s real-life case studies make his approach incredibly easy to grasp.

For market researchers, Rumelt’s framework – focusing on clear, actionable strategies over generic goals – will sharpen your strategic planning and refine your analytical approach. Read it and gain a true understanding of what simply makes a good strategy good and how you can streamline your efforts to achieve tangible, measurable results.

Find it on Amazon

2. Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are

By Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

Popularly known as “Everybody Lies”, this New York Times bestseller and the Economist book of the year delves into how big data unveils hidden truths about our behavior and desires.

With his background as a Google data scientist, Stephens-Davidowitz leverages online data from search engines and social media to reveal the often surprising – and sometimes uncomfortable – realities that traditional surveys often miss. It’s a fascinating demonstration of big data’s power to uncover genuine insights about everyday life, from economics to ethics, sports to race, and sex to gender.

Highlighting the potential of non-traditional data sources – specifically, online behavior – to reveal deeper consumer insights, market researchers will find this book to be a true eye-opener. Stephens-Davidowitz details techniques researchers can use to develop more precise and effective marketing strategies that truly resonate with an audience.

Find it on Amazon

3. Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life

By Rory Sutherland

A renowned adman and behavioral science pioneer, Rory Sutherland puts his brilliant mind to print to explore how embracing the irrational and creative aspects of marketing can lead to extraordinary success.

At its core, “Alchemy” argues against businesses and organizations taking a purely logical approach – after all, magic and logic aren’t the greatest match. Instead, Sutherland campaigns for the transformative power of unconventional thinking, using leading-edge scientific research, absurdly entertaining storytelling and practical case studies to bring this approach to life.

With a strong emphasis on creativity and intuition, “Alchemy” should give any market researcher reason to break away from data-driven norms and experiment with bold, unconventional ideas.

Find it on Amazon

4. The Illusion of Choice: 16 ½ Psychological Biases That Influence What We Buy

By Richard Shotton

Another proponent for the importance of psychology and behavioral science in marketing, Richard Shotton’s "The Illusion of Choice" reveals how tiny, unnoticed factors shape our day-to-day decisions.

Shotton identifies the 16½ most important psychological biases that everyone in business needs to be aware of today – and how any business can use them to find a competitive advantage. The book brilliantly blends theory and practical insights, demonstrating to readers how minor tweaks in presentation and context can have a huge bearing on the choices we make.

"The Illusion of Choice" is a goldmine for market researchers. Revealing the psychological tricks behind decision-making, this book will undoubtedly empower you to design better surveys and marketing strategies to ultimately build a more successful company. Shotton's insights will help you predict consumer responses more accurately and craft more persuasive messages; you’ll understand data on a deeper level and learn how to ethically influence consumer behavior.

Find it on Amazon

5. Decoded: The Science Behind Why We Buy

By Phil Barden

Leveraging an over 25-year career in marketing, and working with some of the world’s most successful companies and business leaders, Phil Barden’s groundbreaking book uncovers the psychological mechanisms that drive our purchasing decisions.

Barden draws on neuroscience and behavioral economics to explore why we choose certain products over others, breaking down complex scientific concepts into easy-to-understand insights. With the help of real-world examples, Barden shows how these principles play out in everyday buying behavior with brands that you will no doubt know very well.  

Barden’s exploration of the subconscious factors influencing consumer choices provides valuable tools for any market researcher wanting to deliver more effective work. His book’s popularity stems from its practicality: by understanding the science behind why people buy, you can better predict consumer behavior and tailor your approaches to resonate more deeply with your target audience.

If you're a fan of "Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant" by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, you will get a lot out of this book.

Find it on Amazon

Download your gateway to smarter, more impactful research

Whether you’re enhancing your professional toolkit or seeking fresh perspectives, these strategy books are your gateway to smarter, more impactful research in 2024.

Ready to delve deeper? Download our free ebook for the full list and start transforming your approach today.

Free eBook: 24 essential books for researchers in 2024

Ken Choi // Head of Strategy & Insights Solutions, APJ

Ken has over 18 years of experience in brand strategy and research. Previously a director and head of Quantitative Research at an insights consultancy, he’s passionate about unbundling complex issues and communicating clear growth strategies to drive business impact. He has experience working on large-scale, global research programs and has conducted brand strategy and growth innovation research in over 45 countries.

As a Solutions Strategist for the Asia Pacific & Japan region, he is focused on designing best-in-class technology and service solutions to help brands develop and maintain consistent and engaging experiences with their audiences.

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