In an effort to discover why we buy, Paco Underhill set out a mission using video equipment, store maps and customer profile sheets to gather research. Once his business began to grow he founded a consulting firm, Envirosell, and began to discover over 900 aspects between the shopper and the store. Why We Buy, gets down to the basics of how retailers and consumers interact. Each chapter takes the reader through a series of important tactics to remember when being involved in the business world. The science of shopping is introduced and opens the eyes of all consumers and places them on the edge of their seats. A variety of topics are discussed that would be beneficial to anyone involved in the areas of retail, marketing, advertising, design, architecture, and shopping.
Section I: Chapter I- A Science is Born Summary
Why We Buy begins with an example of a day in the life of a tracker, following a lady around her store noting all movements she makes. Shortly the question,” Since when does such a scholarly discipline even exist?” is asked in regard to the science of shopping. The answer to this question is deeply rooted in the study of anthropology. Anthropology has devoted a branch to the study of the modern shopper, and how the interacting with retail environments (not only stores, but also banks and restaurants), including but not limited to every rack, shelf, counter and table display of merchandise, every sign, banner, brochure, directional aid and computerized interactive informational fixture, the entrances and exits, the windows and wall, the elevators and escalators and stairs and ramps, the cashier lines and teller lines, the counter lines and restroom
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lines, and every inch of every isle—in to the deepest penetration of the store itself. Although this is a very detailed list, it is only the beginning of things considered in the science of shopping. Anthropology studies have failed to examine the minute details that may provide a better description of actions and product placements, which is why the science of shopping was created. The science of shopping not only studies the store but it studies what human beings do in it. For example, someone practicing the science of shopping may not only study where the shopper goes in the store, but what path they took to get there or what they chose to read or decline to read. Several tools are used to account for actions but the most important tool in the science of shopping is a tracking sheet, which is a low-tech piece of paper. For clarification, trackers are the field researchers of the science of shopping, the scholars of shopping, or, more precisely, of shoppers. Trackers secretly make their ways through the store following shoppers and noting everything they do; usually as soon as the person enters through the store entrance. Graduate students were once a prime candidate for this position but have been replaced by smart creative people, such as artist, actors, writers, etc. This may seem like an easy job but candidates recruited for this type of work must go through an extensive training session. A tracker must be able to record up to around forty shopper behaviors and be able to use the system of shorthand notation. Due to varying information needed for each job, a computer program cannot be created to bring together all the details, so Excel remains to be the prominent programmed used. Underhill credits a man by the name of William H. Whyte, or “Holly,” for the beginning foundation of the science of shopping. Whyte was, essentially, a scientist of the street. His main mission was to focus on improving cities by finding ways to make them better for citizens. He observed park benches to parks to plazas. Underhill was influenced by his methods while
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working with him at Project of Public Spaces (PPS). Underhill first used these methods when hired by the...