Last week we had a book club meeting down in the local Argo tea (located on the first floor of the Sears Store.) In attendance was Pete Simon, Fred Leise, Nina Bieliauskas , Rod Rakic and myself Dennis Schleicher. The book was Shoptimism by Lee Eisenberg.

Here are some of the things I wrote down from the discussion

  • The big difference between the act of buying and the process of buying.
  • That people buy things for so many different reasons.
  • The aspect of buying as a social process and that sometimes we buy something just because other people buy it.
  • We talked about Syd Jerome’s  in Chicago as a great buying experience. Fred talked about how much they know about you and why you bought what you did, even if it was a year ago.  We thought it contrasted with companies today that try to buy that information and build that profile on the fly rather than earning it. Online it is so hard to know why someone bought something. One person reflected on for all that big online companies know about me/us – why isn’t it a better experience. Gift-buying really throws it off.

Here are some of the highlights from the book

(p12) “An anthropologist …  asks of a woman buying a new dress, say, what self do you take up with this dress, who will you now become?”

(p28) “Shopping has melted into everything . . . “

(p70) “The hard part, he said, is helping stores configure data into passkeys that actually open our credit card cases and unlock our spending through improved store layout and sales training. It’s not that a guy walks past a fancy display. It’s how do you use the captured video to come up with a display that will stop him, you, me, cold in our tracks.”

(p70) “Seventy percent of what people spend in a mall, or a grocery store for that matter, they had no intention of buying when they walked in the door.”

(p88) “retailers [need to] define themselves by the customers they serve, not by the products [they sell].”

(p131) On the ton of UGC product reviews and forums where potential customers can ask questions – “This all represents a turning point in Sell Side history. We have become valuable selling assets.”

(p168) “The Internet, as O’Guinn later explained to me, is the ‘backyard fence’ across which we and fellow tribe members toast the brands we like and roast the one’s we don’t.”

(p173) On American Girl Place – “The observers saw something close to brand quintessence here. There’s interaction: an environment charged with energy and activity, a destination that exemplifies a successful “brandscape,” …”

(p194) On the supermarket as the great retailing change of the 20th century – “self-service, the ultimate death of the salesman . . .”

(p211) “How do we decide – when we resolve to clean out the attic and garage – that certain items are “junk” and others are collectibles . . . “

(p242) “… exploring the notion that it’s the buying process itself, not what is bought, that drives the compulsive to the mall.”

(p254) “… shopping online is both like and unlike shopping in a store. One thing they have in common is that what we say we do when shopping isn’t necessarily what we do when shopping.”

(p255) “Optimally . . . we want maximum flexibility of choice and ‘minimum decision complexity.’”

(p288) “the celebrated anthropologist Mary Douglas declared in their classic The World of Goods “It is extraordinary to discover that no one knows why people want goods.”

(p294) On McCracken and home visits to find out what’s important to people – :They should invite themselves into other people’s homes and ask about the things best loved, the things people keep on their walls and on the mantel. Ask where those things came from, how folks came to own them, and what meaning they hold in their lives.”

(p300) “So these things you didn’t buy but were attracted to, or the things you bought and didn’t return – they offered what, exactly? I asked Williams. She thought about that for a second. ‘I’d say they offered a sort of hopefulness.’ Aha, shoptimism!’ However momentarily,’ she added, ‘the things I bought and keep turned out to be somehow enhancing.”

Shoptimism The Website for the Book

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