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Inside the Mind of the Shopper: The Science of Retailing [Hardcover]

Herb Sorensen
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 May 2009

What do you really do when you shop? The answers are fascinating and, for retailers, they're cash in the bank. In Inside the Mind of the Shopper: The Science of Retailing, world-renowned retail consultant Dr. Herb Sorensen, Ph.D. uncovers the truth about the retail shopper and rips away the myths and mistakes that lead retailers to miss their greatest opportunities. Every year, says Sorensen, shoppers will spend a quadrillion seconds in supermarkets and they'll waste 80% of that time. Sorensen analyzes consumer behavior–how shoppers make buying decisions as they move through supermarkets and other retail stores–and presents powerful, tested strategies for designing more effective stores, improving merchandising, and driving double-digit sales increases. He identifies simple interventions that can have dramatic sales effects, and shows why many common strategies simply don't work. You'll learn how to appeal to the "quick trip" shopper; make the most of all three "moments of truth"; understand consumers' powerful in-store migration patterns; improve collaboration between manufacturers and retailers; learn the lessons of Stew Leonard's and other innovators; and much more. Then, in Part II, Sorensen presents revealing interviews with several leading in-store retail experts, including crucial insights on using technology and retailing to multicultural communities.

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Inside the Mind of the Shopper: The Science of Retailing + Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping + Smart Retail: Practical Winning Ideas and Strategies from the Most Successful Retailers in the World
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Financial Times/ Prentice Hall; 1 edition (6 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0137126859
  • ISBN-13: 978-0137126859
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 16 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 249,327 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Herb Sorensen, Ph.D. is a pre-eminent authority on observing and measuring shopping behavior and attitudes. He is a BrainTrust Member at; an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, University of South Australia; and Scientific Advisor to the TNS Global Retail & Shopper Practice. He has spent 40 years serving Fortune 100 retailers and consumer packaged goods manufacturers throughout the world.

Fast Company Magazine named him one of its top 50 Innovators. He has been quoted in The Wall St. Journal, Forbes, Business Week, MSNBC, Supermarket News, and Progressive Grocer. Herb speaks internationally to companies and groups--visit Herb also writes a monthly blog at

Speaking Engagements in the past year, in addition to the US, Canada and Mexico, included Brazil, the UK, Switzerland, France, Norway, Australia, Turkey, China, Spain and the UAE.

Product Description

From the Back Cover

How Today’s Shoppers Really Think, Behave, and Buy:

Breakthrough Insights for Creating High-Profit Retail Experiences!


Inside the Mind of the Shopper is the preeminent handbook for any marketer or retailer seeking to understand why people do what they do when they shop. Armed with the knowledge in this book, marketers and retailers can work together to predict how shoppers will respond (or not!) to package and label design, selling messages, shelf plans, and the entire retail space.”

—Matt Ohligschlager, Senior Manager, Consumer and Market Knowledge, Procter & Gamble


“From his 40 years of observing shoppers, Herb Sorensen has given us the gift of understanding shoppers. Now, we clearly see that the store layouts merchants want are not what shoppers want. On the ground, managers THINK they know their shoppers, but anyone who follows Herb’s handbook on shopper insights will know them a lot better.”

—Joel Rubinson, Chief Research Officer, The Advertising Research Foundation


Today, improving the effectiveness of the retail experience is no longer an option: It’s a matter of survival—and nobody knows more about doing that than Herb Sorensen. That’s because Sorensen understands your customer’s in-store behavior better than anyone else on earth.


Now, drawing on microscopic analysis of millions of shopping trips, Sorensen reveals exactly what your customers are thinking, why they behave as they do, and how to reshape stores to deliver truly remarkable results.


You’ll discover how to drive more profit from the “quick trip”...the three “moments of truth” in every shopping event...customer “migration patterns” within the store...and how to use “active retailing” to place products precisely where they’ll do best.


Author's Notes and Acknowledgments     xv

About the Author     xxi

Preface: Rethinking Retail     1

Introduction: Twenty Million Opportunities to Buy     5


Part I: Active Retailing     23

Chapter 1: The Quick Trip: Eighty Percent of Shopper Time Is Wasted     25

Chapter 2: Three Moments of Truth and Three Currencies     47

Chapter 3: In-Store Migration Patterns: Where Shoppers Go and What They Do     69

Chapter 4: Active Retailing: Putting Products into the Path of Shoppers     97

Chapter 5: Brands, Retailers, and Shoppers: Why the Long Tail Is Wagging the Dog     113


Part II: Going Deeper into the Shopper's Mind     131

Chapter 6: The Quick-Trip Paradox: An Interview with Unilever’s Mike Twitty     133

Chapter 7: Integrating Online and Offline Retailing: An Interview with Professors Peter Fader (The Wharton School) and Wendy Moe (University of Maryland)     147

Chapter 8: Multicultural Retailing: An Interview with Emil Morales, Executive Vice President of TNS Multicultural     161

Chapter 9: Insights into Action: A Retailer Responds: An Interview with Mark Heckman of Marsh Supermarkets     179


Part III: Conclusions     189

Chapter 10: The Internet Goes Shopping     191

Chapter 11: Game-Changing Retail: A Manifesto     199


Part IV: Appendix     205

Appendix: Views on the World of Shoppers, Retailers, and Brands     207


Index     213


About the Author

Herb Sorensen is a preeminent authority on observing and measuring shopping behavior and attitudes within the four walls of the store. He has worked with Fortune 100 retailers and consumer packaged-goods manufacturers for more than 35 years, studying shopper behavior, motivations, and perceptions at the point of purchase. Sorensen’s patented shopper-tracking technology PathTracker® is helping to revolutionize retail marketing strategies from a traditional “product-centric” perspective to a new “shopper-centric” focus. As Baseline magazine commented, “Herb Sorensen and Paco Underhill are the yin and yang of observational research.”


Herb has conducted studies in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America. His research has been published in AMA’s Marketing Research, The Journal of Advertising Research, FMI Advantage Magazine, Progressive Grocer, and Chain Drug Review, and he has been utilized as an expert source for The Wall Street Journal, Supermarket News, and BusinessWeek. Additionally, he is currently a panelist of Retail Wire’s “Brain Trust.”


Herb was named one of the top 50 innovators of 2004 by Fast Company Magazine, and shared the American Marketing Association’s 2007 EXPLOR Award for technological applications that advance research, with Peter Fader and his group at the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania. Herb has a Ph.D. in Biochemistry.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lets go shopping 18 Sep 2010
Rarely have I read a book which I found so directly applicable to my work. It is well written, in digestible chunks & provides the theoretical framework against which you can compare & contrast real research projects usually presented as raw data tables & powerpoint slides.

I thought it tremendous & particularly good at highlighting the 'so what' of shopping behaviour.For fmcg marketeeers this is powerful stuff. I have enjoyed books by Paco Underhill & Martin Lindstrom but found this one more helpful - its not as wide ranging across shopper behaviours but covers the supermarket environment really well & makes not a bad stab at dealing with online shopping as well

Good & practical stuff
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What makes supermarket shoppers tick? 11 Jan 2010
By Rolf Dobelli TOP 500 REVIEWER
Have you ever wondered why the milk is in the back of the grocery store, far away from the entrance? Supermarket managers put it there in hopes of enticing shoppers to buy some of the thousands of items they pass on their way to the dairy case. However, shopping behavioralist Herb Sorensen disagrees with this strategy. He suggests that it causes shoppers emotional distress and they will simply buy their milk elsewhere. This type of product placement tactic is the kind of "misconception" that Sorensen identifies as retailers' and manufacturers' biggest problem. They spend billions learning about their customers and then fail to understand how consumers behave in their stores. Sorensen proselytizes heavily about the virtues of shopper research, which is not surprising since it is his field of expertise. Given his intricate factual material, backed with research, charts, statistics and case histories, getAbstract believes that he will persuade most readers to accept his methods by the time they finish his book. This is a crucial read for retailers who aspire to increase sales by understanding what shoppers want and providing it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inside the Mind of the Shopper 4 Jun 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A very insightful book into the actual reasons we behave in specific ways inside a shop. Along with Paco Underhill and Siemon Scamell-Katz, Sorensen is one of the pioneers of the psychology of how and why we shop. This book contains experience distilled from Sorensen's 20 years of experience of closely observing shoppers and why they react in the way they do. Thought provoking and very interesting.

And less you doubt any of Sorensen's conclusions,you only have to go into a supermarket and watch the shoppers in action to see the truth in what he has written.

Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Informative and interesting 24 April 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book gives an excellent analysis of supermarket shoppers. Unfortunately, I do not run a supermarket so it was not really relevant to my business (hence the four stars) but it still contains a lot of interesting research/statistics.
I loathe supermarket shopping and this book explained why, as a customer, I feel this way. There is a real gap in the market for a food store that understands/cares about its customers rather than just bombards them with an overload of products (usually produced by the same few companies) who have paid a fortune for product placement.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Credible Research 11 July 2009
By Leo MacLeod - Published on
What is interesting about this book is the focus on shopper behavior rather than shopper comments to draw the conclusions. People aren't reliable sources for predicting behavior. Behavior is the best predictor of behavior. By looking at where shoppers go, how long they take, and what they actually buy, Dr. Sorensen sheds new light on how retailers and brands can capitalize on the truth right under their noses!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is one great and useful book 1 Aug 2012
By Robert Kirk - Published on
I found this book both interesting as a business owner AND a consumer. I always enjoy looking "inside" of the tricks and optics that retailers are trying to sell to you. This author not only knows what he is talking about he also says it in ways that you can take back a lot of this information and use it to improve your own business. I really enjoyed the statistics that he showed about customers wanting to come in quickly and move on with their lives. The section on how the retailers really make their money (float, allowances, etc) was telling and again adds to value of this book. This author is a guru !! In summary, well worth your time is you are in retail sales.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-written with balance of quantitative and qualitative content 8 Jan 2010
By Ryan R. Kelsey - Published on
Great book because each chapter has a unique purpose in understanding Herb Sorensen's approach. Too many books have 100 pages or less of real content and double that of filler. Not this one. It carefully uses tables, graphs, maps, photos and a fast-moving pace. These work well to emphasize the importance of the quick trip, moments of truth, and types of currencies we all experience as shoppers, retailers, and manufacturers. Ultimately, I enjoyed the manifesto at the end with the top ten best practices retailers and manufacturers could execute tomorrow without a catch such as "buy our software" or "our consultants are standing by for an expensive engagement". I have already bought a second copy in two weeks since I loaned it out so quickly.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book for CPG Suppliers and Retailers 5 May 2010
By Jeff Doucette - Published on
In the world of shopper insights there are two preeminent figures namely, Paco Underhill the author of "Why We Buy" and Herb Sorensen, the author of "Inside The Mind of the Shopper".

I recently finished reading Mr. Sorensen's book and it took me on a fabulous journey through the retail environment and how shoppers made purchase (or not to purchase) decisions in the store.

When you think about it, this is critical information for both suppliers and retailers as without triggering the purchase decision in-store neither of our businesses would exist.

Sorensen has decades of experience in understanding shopper and his work highly complements that of Underhill. Indeed, the work done by Sorensen is much more advanced including the use of high tech shopper tracking solutions, many of which he invented to facilitate his research.

The book is written in such a way to give actionable insights to both retailers and suppliers on how they can increase the chance to put more products in the shopper's basket.

For retailers, he debunks the long standing notice that price is the king of promotion, offers unique ideas on how to manage SKU sprawl and highlights the importance of "short trip" shoppers.

For suppliers, he encourages a clear focus on the key top-selling items in our assortment (less really is more) and to focus on breaking through the retail clutter with product packaging and POP material that truly has stopping power.

With up to 80% of final purchasing decisions being made in-store this is an essential read for those in shopper facing roles such as category management and shopper insights. It is also a great investment for retail buyers, store operations, key account managers, marketers and senior management.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inside The Mind.... 13 Jun 2011
By Spring - Published on
A very well written and researched book. From his 40 years of observing shoppers, Dr. Herb Sorensen has given us the gift of understanding shoppers. This book is a great handbook for any marketer or retailer seeking to understand why people do what they do when they shop. Armed with the knowledge in this book, marketers and retailers can work together to predict how shoppers will respond (or not!) to package and label design, selling messages, shelf plans, and the entire retail space.

In this book you will learn how to drive more profit from the "quick trip"... the three "moments of truth" in every shopping event ... customer "migration patterns" within the store...and how to use "active retailing" to place products precisely where they'll do best.

Highly recommended!
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