Why We Buy: The Science Of Shopping

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9780684849133: Why We Buy: The Science Of Shopping

"Why We Buy" is a witty and surprising report on our evolving shopping culture. This is a book about us, from moms and dads to seniors and mall rats, and what we do, and don't do, in stores, restaurants and showrooms. "Why We Buy" is about the struggle among merchants, marketers and increasingly knowledgeable customers for control. With humor, insight, anecdote and lots of hard data, retail anthropologist Paco Underhill leads the reader through a journey into shopping heaven and hell. For those in retailing and marketing, "Why We Buy" is a remarkably fresh guide, offering concrete and usable advice on how to adapt to the changing customer. For the general public, "Why We Buy" is a charming, funny and sometimes disconcerting mirror of who we really are. Underhill and his company, Envirosell, are credited as being the founders of the science of shopping. For almost two decades, Underhill has been leading blue-chip clients into the retail trenches. Like a modern-day Margaret Mead observing at the local mail, Underhill's firm records and measures with great precision what goes on in stores as we wander or rush about, find what we want and sometimes do the unexpected. From base camps in New York City, Milan and Sydney, Underhill and his colleagues follow in person and on videotape between fifty thousand and seventy thousand shoppers a year through their retail experiences in stores, banks and public offices. (They record some twenty thousand hours of what Underhill reports to be generally some of the most profoundly dull videotape imaginable.) "Why We Buy" explains how consumer and retail marketing has gone from being a war to being a bar fight, an environment in which Coke iscompeting not only with Pepsi, but with every other product on promotional display. The marketing tools the retail and package-goods industries have built over the past century no longer work as well as they used to. The gender models that have driven stores and designers have become increasingly obsolete; there is a reason why the Jeep Cherokee comes with a makeup mirror on the driver's side. With wry humor, "Why We Buy" looks at men trying to buy gifts in lingerie stores and women struggling for attention, service and respect in car dealerships and technology stores. It reveals how men are more promiscuous buyers and softer touches for children, as well as how a woman will spend even longer in the aisles if she is with a woman friend. In "Why We Buy," Underhill explains why we do what we do, notice what we notice, ignore what we ignore and buy what we buy. He tells us, for instance, why women won't linger to shop in narrow aisles, why the Internet cannot replace the shopping mail, how hardware stores are learning to adapt to women and how men are beginning to shop like women, how working women have altered the way supermarkets are laid out and why the person in charge at a branch bank sits at the desk farthest from the front door. Paco Underhill's "Why We Buy" amuses and instructs, and it will change forever the way you look at stores and at yourself.

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Review:

In an effort to determine why people buy, Paco Underhill and his detailed-oriented band of retail researchers have camped out in stores over the course of 20 years, dedicating their lives to the "science of shopping." Armed with an array of video equipment, store maps, and customer-profile sheets, Underhill and his consulting firm, Envirosell, have observed over 900 aspects of interaction between shopper and store. They've discovered that men who take jeans into fitting rooms are more likely to buy than females (65 percent vs. 25 percent). They've learned how the "butt-brush factor" (bumped from behind, shoppers become irritated and move elsewhere) makes women avoid narrow aisles. They've quantified the importance of shopping baskets; contact between employees and shoppers; the "transition zone" (the area just inside the store's entrance); and "circulation patterns" (how shoppers move throughout a store). And they've explored the relationship between a customer's amenability and profitability, learning how good stores capitalize on a shopper's unspoken inclinations and desires.

Underhill, whose clients include McDonald's, Starbucks, Estée Lauder, and Blockbuster, stocks Why We Buy with a wealth of retail insights, showing how men are beginning to shop like women, and how women have changed the way supermarkets are laid out. He also looks to the future, projecting massive retail opportunities with an aging baby-boom population and predicting how online retailing will affect shopping malls. This lighthearted look at shopping is highly recommended to anyone who buys or sells. --Rob McDonald

About the Author:

With clients ranging from McDonald's to Starbucks, Estée Lauder to Blockbuster and Citibank to Wells Fargo, Paco Underhill has been profiled in The New Yorker and Smithsonian Magazine, has written for American Demographics and Adweek and lectures widely. He is based in New York City.

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Underhill, Paco
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ISBN 10: 0684849135 ISBN 13: 9780684849133
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