Why We Buy: Introduction

Who knew a book about stalking people in the name of retail science would become a national bestseller? Paco Underhill, founder of Envirosell, the “stalkers for hire” consulting agency, has three books on the market, and this one, “Why We Buy” is the first. I am doing an analysis of this book to better my own knowledge of selling, merchandising, and why people spend money on anything and everything.

In short, Envirosell monitors, anaylzes and draws conclusions from following people and recording certain areas of retail environments and public spaces. They can tell you more than just the average number of people in the store per day (most major retailers have an automatic people counter above the door) but how old they are, how they’re dressed, what they bought, how long they were present, and more. They collected so much data on tape at one point, “Kodak told us we were the single largest consumer of Super 8 film in the world”.
After just a few pages, my favorite statistic listed is about jeans. Sixty-five percent of men who try jeans on buy them, but only twenty-five percent of women buy jeans after trying them on. There are a thousand explanations for this, but the fact remains. As a retail fitting room attendant, I can attest to that entirely. As a result, I will feel more validated knowing that only one out of the four women trying on jeans will actually buy them. Knowing this gives me more realistic expectations.

Anyway, I report more as I get through the book. So far I can see why it is a bestseller. The writing is masterful yet personal, but the content is thick and juicy. Can’t wait to tell you more!

Buy bye!

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Expose the Tools

 Fine artists of fashion are completely underrated. It is difficult for a customer who knows nothing about how a garment is made without a demonstration of time, effort, and finances. Many are not willing to pay for a $400 belt when they can get a $40 belt that looks similar. The difference: hopefully, the $400 belt was handmade painstakingly with a superior leather and a hand-fashioned buckle. The $40 belt was probably made in China.

One of the more effective ways to convey the artistry of any business is to expose some element of the process. This picture above is inside Pinkham Millinery in Portland. PM was recently featured as one of the top 20 millineries in the world, one of only 4 in America, and the only one not located in NYC.

Inside Dayna Pinkham’s shop, she displays just one of a hundred elements of her trade: hat forms. Shelf after shelf of wooden blocks of all measurements and hat styles line the west wall of her shop. The craft is a fine one, and this way anyone who enters can see the challenge of making a hat so perfect as one of Dayna’s. This effective bit of Visual Merchandising is not only a great conversation starter with clients, but also a truthful display of the work that goes into her art.

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Greetings :)

Green field with close-up of small flowers

Hey there, just wanted to introduce myself: my name is Kelsey and I am beginning a blog about the retail industry, visual merchandising (VM), the psychology of buying, and consumerism, all in the name of preparing myself for a dream job in merchandising.

I will begin over the next few weeks with a book series written by Paco Underhill, who people-watched and literally stalked people inside stores, eavesdropping to find out what led them to that crucial decision: “To buy, or not to buy”. His first book, “Why We Buy” is no thicker than one of the Chronicle’s of Narnia, so I hope to get through it fairly fast, yet take it all in.

I am also currently a student of fashion marketing here in the beautiful and wet city of Portland, and have a concentration in digital art and VM as well as sustainability, so you will be reading a lot about that, I am sure.

Well, just wanted to get the courtesies taken care of. Now that we are no longer strangers, go ahead and like, follow, and comment to your heart’s content 🙂

Buy Bye!

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