Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping

This afternoon I finished reading Why We Buy. It was a bit of a detour from my usual fare--I actually bought it thinking it was going to be an "exposé" type book about commercialism and marketing (a little like Born to Buy) , maybe with simple living undertones even. It was from the JC book sale also. Anyway, it was actually more like a study of the culture of shopping, the mechanisms of shoppers, how stores can be more effective, mistakes companies make that are costing them lost shopper dollars, how to "seduce" shoppers to spend more, etc. So, in a few ways it was the polar opposite of the kind of books I like to read--this one was supportive of the work-to-buy, pro-consumption lifestyle that I steer away from. The early chapters also seemed excessively self-referential--i.e. I did this and I did that.... and I had this great idea, etc. I almost talked myself out of reading it several times, mostly because it wasn't really contributing to my self-development, inner peace, and so forth.

However, criticisms aside, it was just plain interesting! Not only does the author have a knack for hooking shoppers, he has knack for hooking readers as well! His writing style was engaging and kept me turning pages (fairly rapidly too!). When I went to Wal-Mart yesterday afternoon, I felt much more conscious of my "shopping" elements--his book gives new insights to consumers about why we buy the way we buy. Another insight I gained was about the local health food store. I always feel like getting out of it quickly and also am often surprised when I take the time to look around and see how much they have in such a small space--his book made me realize it is because of the cramped, narrow aisles. It makes me feel like escaping. Also, it gives me the perception of a lack of variety or something, when there really is an amazing amount.

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