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Why We Buy

The Science of Shopping—Updated and Revised for the Internet, the Global Consumer and Beyond


Paco Underhill (View Bio)
Hardcover: Simon & Schuster, 1999; Paperback: Touchstone, 2009.

Why We Buy

Now in a new edition, this international best-seller has been completely revised and includes about 25% new material, expanding on internet sales and the globalized market, which were still new phenomena when the first edition was published in 1999.  As before, Paco Underhill, the premier retail consultant in America, provides a witty and surprising deconstruction of shopping culture: what we do and don't do in stores, restaurants, and showrooms across America. How the internet has changed shopping.  Is corporate America enslaving us to their sinister consumerist drumbeat as the pop sociologists of the 50s and 60s so feared? Paco says it's more the reverse — we are the boss, and the retailing corporations our humble (well, maybe not so humble) slaves. With humor, insight, anecdote, and tons of hard data, retail anthropologist Underhill offers concrete usable advice on how retailers must adapt to the changing customer. For the customer he paints a disconcertingly detailed picture of how we are what we buy. TV people, take note: Paco's video clips of random consumer behavior are absolutely revealing and hilarious.

The world-wide best-seller—in a new Revised and Updated Edition
Named one of "The 100 Best Business Books of All Time"

"Underhill, once a budding academic who worked on a William H. Whyte project analyzing how people use public spaces, adapted anthropological techniques to the world of retail and forged an innovative career with the consulting firm Envirosell. Since brand names and traditional advertising don't necessarily translate into sales, Underhill argues that retail design based on his company's close — very close — observation of shoppers and stores holds the key. His anecdotes contain illuminating detail.... It should aid those in business while intriguing urban anthropologists, amateur and professional." — Publishers Weekly

"Interesting and entertaining reading for consumers no matter if you enjoy shopping or not.... No matter which point of view you're coming from, shopper or shopkeeper, you'll find Underhill's tips are often funny, sometimes provocative and almost always usable." — R.J. Ignelzi, San Diego Union Tribune

"Fascinating.... most women will be hard-pressed to find something more relevant to their everyday existence." — Patti Thorn, Denver Rocky Mountain News

"At last, here is a book that gives this underrated skill the respect it deserves. WHY WE BUY is a testament to the nobility, the courage — yes, even the heroism — of the average shopper.... Entertaining and in some ways exhilarating." — Patricia T. O'Conner, The New York Times Book Review

"A readable, entertaining study of the behavioral science of shopping." — Esquire

"A modern masterpiece, merging research and humor to plumb the purchasing habits. Underhill show[s] how even the savviest people become putty in the hands of even smarter retailers who know that consumers' actions are dictated by drives and behavior of which they're not even aware." — BusinessWeek online

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