Friday, May 22, 2009

Book Review: Why We Buy

I caught a snippet of a recent TV interview of Paco Underhill, the author of Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping. I was immediately intruigued and I checked out the book from the library. My hope was to gain an understanding of some of the psychology of why I buy stuff -- so I'd know how to better avoid buying stuff. I'm afraid that's not what the book was about at all.

The main thrust of the book is intended for retailers who wish to increase their sales. Underhill runs a consulting business with some big-name clients and he helps them figure out how to sell more stuff. I found many of the case studies interesting, even amusing. He talks about the problem of "butt-bump" in which retail sales racks are placed too close together and people get jostled as they look at the merchandise. People don't like that. Some things should be obvious, but he addresses practicalities such as the fact that shoppers have only two hands and the retailer has to provide a place for shoppers to set things down when necessary.

After the novelty wore off, I found the book pretty boring. Underhill's whole focus is how retailers can make it easy for people to buy more stuff. It was written in 1999, so the chapter on internet sales was woefully out of date. I gave up on the book before I finished it. I hesitate writing a negative review, but sometimes it's nice to cross off a book instead of add it to a list of books to be read. I'd give this book 1 out of 5 stars unless you own a retail store, in which case you just might want to read it!

4 comments:

JAM said...

Thanks for the review - I also like to know when not to read a book! I do like to be able to talk to my kids about tricks that retailers or marketers use to try to get them to buy stuff so they realize things are done on purpose to try to get them to buy more stuff, or stuff that they don't need. Just the fact that people write books about this shows them that it's all about the money, which we as adults know but kids don't always realize. Have a great long weekend!

SusanB said...

I read part of this book in a bookstore coffeeshop back when it came out -- probably just enough to enjoy the novelty. Thanks for letting me know I didnit' miss anything.

Donna said...

JAM: Thanks for your comment. I agree that it's all about the $$. This book wasn't so much about the tricks as it was common sense type of stuff that retailers somehow miss, but the whole point was helping them to sell more stuff. Sigh. Just what we need.

SusanB: Sounds like your instincts were right on. Nope, you didn't miss anything! Thanks for dropping by.

Electronic Goose said...

Thanks for this review--it's on my to-read list and now I'm rethinking it!