Why We Buy: A Book Review
Posted January 2, 2010on:
I finally finished the book Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping by Paco Underhill. I read the updated version published in 2009. Over all review (for those of who who found this site looking for a general book review): 5 Stars.
Now, what I got out of it, though, was more than just what it says on the back cover of the book. Mr. Underhill discusses how he started out. Yup, very successful businessman telling the public how he started out–completely not new. However, since he’s a good writer, it’s actually enjoyable to read. Apparently, for instance, when his company Envirosell was just starting out, he would sleep in his rental car and wash up at the gass station before a sales meeting. Talk about dedication! He also talks about how he got into research, the types of people he looks for in employees, and how he got his company global… all useful lessons, I think, for someone who wants to do all that themselves.
Of course, I also learned a lot about how people shop and buy things. Unless you work in retail and at least marketing, you may think, “Why does this affect me? What could I get out of reading a book like that?” Besides the stuff I just mentioned, you can learn about the whole retail business segment, which affects managers as well as classic marketers and merchandisers. Plus, did I mention he’s a good writer? It’s actually a fun read!
I do have one complaint, though. His section on E-Commerce does leave a little lacking. He is very pro-brick and mortar. Which only makes sense. His entire business is about watching people in shops, so yeah, he’d be a bit biased. The Internet gets one chapter out of the 20 chapters in the book. But I’m not saying he is unfair to the ‘Net and makes it sound useless. He doesn’t. He points out a lot of the uses for the Internet and how it’s used. But he just scratches the surface. Still, I doubt you’d buy this book to learn how people shop online. There are other books for that.
End assessment: it’s a very good book. Every beginning marketer should read it so they have a basic grounding. It’s a famous book. You can bet that your boss has at least heard of it and is familiar with a lot of the issues it talks about. If you read it, you’ll sound like you know something, which is always a second best to actually knowing it.