Starting as a typical anthropologist doing work at Central Park for the city of New York, Paco serendipitously took his academic education and started recording the behavior of music shoppers. The rest, as they say, is history.
All marketing guru's take an artistic approach. There is no science to what they do; it is just a feeling of what seems right. They develop a hunch, which is then tested with your customers without any real certainty of success.
human behavior rather than fads. Paco's team has documented more shoppers in more countries than anyone else. His methodology is based on the fact that humans have changed very little over thousands of decades. Paco's goal is to improve the retail experience through solutions that are both predictably superior and repeatably effective. That you aren't aware of his work speaks bundles of the secrecy with which companies guard what he does for them.
The kind of science that he deploys is not rigid, fake or unnatural. On the contrary, Paco adds value to the existing environment by making it look and feel much more natural and fluid. If consumers felt that they were being trapped by a scientific experiment while doing something as personal as shopping, they would just exit the store. But consumers respond well to Paco's creative solutions because these resonate with the human nature.
Placing aspirins in the most easily accessible shelve, perhaps near the entrance of the pharmacy, would seem to make sense. Pain medications are an important category. Moreover, these products see strong consumption by the elder; people who generally appreciate ease of access. But Paco knows better. Displaying aspirins in such a main isle will place their users right on the path of fast walking teenagers who rush towards the back of the store to grab the latest energy super drink; resulting in the dreaded Butt-brush. Shoppers, specially the elder and females, hate the Butt-brush. No matter how strong their need for pain relief may be, getting Butt-brushed will force them to shop elsewhere. The data corroborates with the thesis that these are terrible areas for these types of products.
|Why We Buy by Paco Underhill|
If you are a retailer, a product manager, a manufacturer of consumer products, a packaging designer, or a commercial interior designer, you are missing your biggest tool. You must read his books; starting with Why we buy, The Science of Shopping. This book sets the foundation needed to internalize the concepts. There are no narratives to waste page space; Paco goes to the point. He teaches how to understand consumers and shares the source for his conclusions.
He knows shoppers so well that he is also referred to as a environmental psychologist.
If you are serious about your work and have an open mind to be proven wrong, make sure that you and your team start following Paco today.
Book Title: Why We Buy
Book Subtitle: The Science of Shopping
Author: Paco Underhill
Publisher: Simon & Schuster