Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping Hardcover – 10 Jun 1999
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In an effort to determine why people buy, Paco Underhill and his detailed- orientated band of retail researchers have camped out in stores for over 20 years, dedicating their efforts 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 shopper/store interaction. They've discovered that men who take jeans into the fitting room are more likely to buy then females (65 percent to 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, employees/shopper contact, 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 capitalise on a shopper's unspoken inclinations and desires.
Underhill--whose clients include McDonald's, Starbuck's, Estee Lauder, and Blockbuster-- stocks Why We Buy with a bevy of retail epiphanies, 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 ageing baby-boom population and predicting how online retailing will affect shopping malls. This lighthearted look at the shopping is highly recommended for anyone who buys or sells. -- Rob McDonald, Amazon.com
.."Underhill..... has made a lot of money, for one simple reason: Many retail environments were broken, and his research helped fix them." -- Business 2.0 (Web), May 30th, 2002
...a fascinating analysis of the factors that both prompt and deter purchase. -- The Bookseller, 25 October 2002
A must read book for anyone doing business in today's complex shopping environment. Paco has the ability to explain the dynamics of today's retail environment. -- Daniel J. Brestle, President, Estie Lauder Inc.
A surprisingly entertaining book which has already become an international bestseller. -- femail.co.uk, November 29, 2001
Paco Underhill ... discusses in depth how retailers can lay out their stores to maximise their sales to each sex. -- Garden Centre Monthly, 1 July 2002 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Although a book like this could be written in a very technical way, the voice and perspective are quite approachable. Also, the book is written to be equally interesting to shoppers and retailers. I'm sure you notice a lot of new things about your own behavior and that of others the next time you go shopping.
I also thought that the book was a good example of the way that stalled thinking holds back progress. For example, without this kind of observational measurement of shoppers, most retailers would never know which shoppers leave without buying and why. Or, why some merchandising experiments succeed or fail. In both cases, there are opportunities to accomplish more, if you can only grasp how your own decisions and behavior are helping and hurting your sales.
One of the sections I enjoyed was an evaluation of why many book stores miss sales. I often notice the inconveniences mentioned when I am in a book store, and wondered why the stores persist in doing things that make the store hard to shop in. There's a lot of stalled thinking in the industry, which is why we are fortunate to have Amazon.com to help us.
The book does a nice job of discussing how people with different perspectives shop differently.Read more ›
My big problem with this book, though, was the complete moral and ethical vacuum in which it is written. By this I don't mean the tricks retailers can use to get you to buy more than you mean to; if you're stupid enough to be sucked into impulse shopping, that's your own lookout. What I do mean is the way in which there is no examination of the idea that conspicuous, continuous consumption is a Good Thing. The part where he demonstrates how a shirt that is produced for $3 in Sri Lanka sells in the USA for $37 is held up as merely "good marketing"; there is no discussion of how this practice is actually exploitative. Ditto his unceasing praise of the predatory Wal-Mart. The most ridiculous claim must be that shopping was the first feminist statement - incredible.
On the whole, it's an interesting, worthwhile read, if only to know one's enemy!
It's a light read - insight into human behaviour is always amusing - but its message really strikes home. If you're in retailing, you'll look at your operation through new eyes. If you're a consumer or simply a people watcher, no shopping trip will ever be the same !
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good. Enjoyed it. It's a bit dated now but is certainly a reference book out on it's own.Published 6 months ago by #Deleted
I have bought a lot of books in my lifetime and as a result of this have a stack of books that I have yet to read. Read morePublished on 13 Oct. 2012 by Quoth The raven
If you want to know how to increase your sales this is the book to read.
It gives you loads of information and ideas what to look for to find possible problems and it is... Read more
It's a good book for the time it was written something like 10 years ago, but the retail environment has dramatically changed since. Read morePublished on 18 Dec. 2008 by T L K
This book's thesis is that by making the process of shopping easier and more desirable, and the choices clearer, the consumer will buy more. Read morePublished on 19 Sept. 2007 by Donald Mitchell
Well, I'm something impressed by this book, as the author displays a series of resources to sell all class of goods that embrace from the common sense to the study of human... Read morePublished on 16 Jan. 2007 by Carlos Vazquez Quintana
A really insightful book.
Contains a lot of useful information, in an easy to read and interesting way.
A refresing change from many other retail textbooks!
While I have some reservations about the veracity of Mr. Underhill's arguments in the E-commerce section, I feel that, overall, this book is excellent. Read morePublished on 23 Mar. 2006 by KJ
A GREAT book. Full of insight, common sense, and simple rules. Should be REQUIRED reading on any MBA course, should be required reading for anyone working in retail. Read morePublished on 7 Nov. 2005 by Adrian Cotterill