Why We Buy

Why We Buy is not recommended reading. It’s required reading. It’s so central to anything regarding merchandising and product placement that anyone who sells things in a physical store needs to understand these concepts and learn to look at his store in the way that Underhill and his team do.


You’ll find the way you look at your store—or any store—changes after you read this. You’ll watch people enter, see where they go, watch what they pick up, notice how long they hold it, what they do with it, and most importantly: whether they buy it. It’ll make you want to change the layout of your store, give new thought to floor planning, merchandising, displaying, and all the fundamental skills of retailers.


Let me give an example from a store I just walked into yesterday. The fixtures are a jumble. Customers who walk into the store don’t walk along a channeled path toward the displays the owners want them to see. They scatter. Some go here, some go there. They’re not sure where to go. This randomness leads to unproductive areas of the store that get no traffic. Even I missed some areas, and I was making a dedicated disciplined effort to visit every display (I was actually trying to estimate their inventory level). Undeerproductive areas mean some product lines don’t sell like they should.


That store owner could have used some of Paco’s loving attention. I would share pictures, but I don’t want to pick on anyone in particular. The layout is the point, not the person.


In any case, simply observing the traffic flow would point this problem out—if you were aware of the problem in the first place. Why We Buy makes you aware of buyer habits that you might not have been aware of—the things like where they go, how they shop and, in general, why they buy. Understanding these principles can increase your sales more than anything else I can tell you. Go buy it.