Sunday, January 4, 2009

Take Care of Yourself or Why We Buy

Take Care of Yourself: The Complete Illustrated Guide to Medical Self-Care

Author: James F Fries

Take Care of Yourself is the world's best-selling health guide, and the only one that has been found to help reduce visits to the doctor and save money. Covering nearly 200 health-care problems and symptoms, it is easy to use, even in a crisis. Readers can locate their symptoms in the easily navigable guide and find a complete explanation of likely causes and possible home remedies. Diagrams show how to recognize problems, and, in many cases, treat them quickly, and the decision charts advise when exactly it's time to see a doctor. This comprehensive guide also covers emergencies, health problem prevention, the 20 things everyone should keep in a home pharmacy, and how to work best with a doctor. Revised and updated, it remains the most comprehensive and dependable self-care guide, and is essential for every home.

Look this: Best of the Best from Virginia Cookbook II or Lantern Vegan Family Cookbook

Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping

Author: Paco Underhill

Is there a method to our madness when it comes to shopping? Hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as "a Sherlock Holmes for retailers," author and research company CEO Paco Underhill answers with a definitive "yes" in this witty, eye-opening report on our ever-evolving consumer culture. Why We Buy is based on hard data gleaned from thousands of hours of field research -- in shopping malls, department stores, and supermarkets across America. With his team of sleuths tracking our every move, from sweater displays at the mall to the beverage cooler at the drugstore, Paco Underhill lays bare the struggle among merchants, marketers, and increasingly knowledgeable consumers for control.

In his quest to discover what makes the contemporary consumer tick, Underhill explains the shopping phenomena that often go unnoticed by retailers and shoppers alike, including:

  • How a well-placed shopping basket can turn a small purchase into a significant sale

  • What the "butt-brush factor" is and how it can make sales plummet

  • How working women have altered the way supermarkets are designed

  • How the "boomerang effect" makes product placement ever more challenging

  • What kinds of signage and packaging turn browsers into buyers

For those in retailing and marketing, Why We Buy is a remarkably fresh guide, offering creative and insightful tips on how to adapt to the changing customer. For the general public, Why We Buy is a funny and sometimes disconcerting look at our favorite pastime.

CBS News's 48 Hours - Dan Rather

Meet a man who probably knows more than you do about the urge to splurge.

Todd Pruzan

By the fourth chapter of Paco Underhill's engrossing new study of our shopping behavior, Why We Buy, you'll have noticed that the author is something of a semiotics master, and probably a bit off his nut. Underhill describes a "eureka moment" that occurred on a sultry August night as he listened to a Yanks game while screening hours of silent, grainy videotape from a drugstore's wall-mounted camera: "I was...witnessing a shopper trying to juggle several small bottles and boxes without dropping one. That's when it dawned on me: The poor guy needed a basket."

Underhill's taste for shopping porn comes in handy at Envirosell, his Manhattan retail-design consultancy, where he's spent more than 20 years interviewing customers (and scrutinizing them from behind potted plants) in order to teach stores, both real and virtual, how to be nicer to us so we'll buy more, and with more pleasure. And his first book -- probably the first book -- on the sociology and psychology of shopping comes as a revelation. Underhill does for the American store what Jane Jacobs did for the American city: He tells us not how retail spaces manipulate us so much as how they fail and succeed at stimulating us.

Why We Buy divulges more about your behavior than you may know yourself: How you ignore items shoved onto the bottom shelf. How you like touching the merchandise, whether it's paperbacks or underwear. How you vacate a store after getting bumped in a narrow aisle (the "butt-brush" factor). But if you think you'll feel silly upon learning that Underhill may have trained a camera on your consumerist ass as you tried to cram it into a pair of Gap khakis, take heart: It's the retailers and product marketers who really look ridiculous. For his research usually yields deceptively simple results -- the kind of thing that should make store planners clap their palms to their foreheads -- and Why We Buy documents their sins with gleeful astonishment. There's the maternity store with aisles too small to handle baby strollers, so its stock doesn't sell. There's the supermarket that shelves its kiddie popcorn at adult-eye level, so it doesn't sell. There's the pound-foolish mattress outlet displaying a $2,000 model without sheets or pillows, so customers can't test-drive it...and it doesn't sell.

Underhill has an inquisitive worldview and a winning voice that reinforces his irrefutable logic. For a book categorized as "psychology/business," Why We Buy is surprisingly well written, even weaving in wry cinema verite: "Stand over here. Behind the underwear. What do you see? A couple?...Hold on -- what's he saying?" The author treads thin ice just once, when he complains that entertainment media "do a fairly poor job of creating packages with the merchandising function in mind." But books and CDs have more emotional value than vacuum cleaners or Big Macs; yes, covers are hard to read from across the store, but we keep these "packages" forever. (Such disappointing logic seems to inform the book's drab but easy-to-read jacket design. Would we really enjoy shopping more if all books looked this dull?)

Still, Why We Buy is immensely valuable for its numerous lessons, which seem obvious only once we understand what we want out of shopping. It's great that someone has explained our habits to us. Now, if only the stores would pay more attention.
&151; Salon


...[S]crupulously maps the familiar realm of retail...

The New York Times Book Review - Patricia T. O'Conner

...Here is a book that gives smart shopping the respect it deserves....Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping is a testament to the nobility, the courage...of the average shopper....In the end, we learn, there's more to the retail experience than trading money for goods.

Paula Dempsey, DePaul University Library, Chicago - Library Journal

The title for this treatment of marketing research in the retail setting is misleading. Underhill, founder of the behavioral research company Envirosell, summarizes some of the firm's conclusions about the interaction between consumers and products and consumers and commercial spaces. He lays claim to the research techniques of urban anthropology, but his casual, self-congratulatory tone and loose organization make the book inappropriate for academic use. Underhill breezes through anecdotes about how observing the mundane details of shopping improves retail sales, but there is limited grounding in the framework of his "science." Given the lack of recent titles on the topic, this is recommended for large collections with an emphasis on retailing.


...[S]crupulously maps the familiar realm of retail...

The New York Times Book Review - Patricia T. O'Conner

...[H]ere is a book that gives [smart shopping] the respect it deserves....Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping is a testament to the nobility, the courage...of the average shopper....In the end, we learn, there's more to the retail experience than trading money for goods.

Business Week - Green

Why We Buy is useful as a how-to for retailers, but shoppers will discover a Vance Packard for our times, on the trail of our century's hidden persuaders.

Kirkus Reviews

Shopping is one of the defining qualities of modern civilization, but this author convincingly argues that consumers may have a greater impact on the act of shopping than shopping has on them. Just as social scientists study people in natural conditions, Underhill studies consumers in retail environments. He's no academic, however, but a "real-world" consultant with such clients as McDonald's, General Mills, and the US Postal Service. Although Underhill's work involves a certain amount of intuition and creative thinking, it's primarily based on hard evidence: the measurements accumulated by teams of trackers working on the floors and behind the scenes of retail establishments. Details gathered from observation of consumers pinpoint problems with products, shelving, signage, register lines, and other factors. Such monitoring prompted one of the author's key insights—that any space in which people are likely to be jostled from behind can lead to shopper discomfort (dubbed "butt sensitivity"). The solution: wider aisles. Underhill explores both similarities and differentiating features in the shopping experiences of varied groups, including the distinctive ways in which men and women browse and make purchasing decisions. His dissection of the retail industry finds much to criticize, but the book also dignifies shopping as a central focus of human activity. The author's company, whose work is cited throughout, has earned its way by spotting flaws and advising retail owners on how to fix them, not merely to boost profits, but because the profits come from improving the quality of the shopping experience for customers. Underhill also analyzes the emerging arena of onlineshopping, offering tips for improved performance. Sales here will accelerate, the author believes, but they don't fundamentally threaten the future of old-fashioned human sales interactions. A strong portrait of consumers as the most efficient arbiters of what to sell and how to sell it. (Author tour)

What People Are Saying

Faith Popcorn
The Dalai Lama said, `Shopping is the museum of the twentieth century.' Paco Underhill explains why. Brilliantly.
— (Faith Popcorn, author and future forecaster)

M. G. Lord
In Why We Buy, Paco Underhill, who invented the science of shopping, turns state's evidence, alerting consumers to the traps retailers set for them. The book is always eye-opening, sometimes chilling, often funny and never dull. It will change the way you experience department stores, supermarkets, even racks of men's underwear — behind which one of Underhill's researchers may be taking notes on your behavior.
— (M. G. Lord, author of Forever Barbie)

Michael Gould
Why We Buy is a funny and insightful book for people on both sides of the retail counter.
— (Michael Gould, CEO, Bloomingdales)

Robin Lewis
Paco Underhill has turned the retail store into a very enlightening entertaining theater where all the customers are actors. Paco's work is brilliant, fun, and informative.
— (Robin Lewis, vice president and group executive editor, Fairchild Publications)

Marc Winkelman
As The Hidden Persuaders did for the 1950s, Why We Buy, defines the American consumer entering the twenty-first century.

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