Hard Sell

“Never shop on an empty stomach and never shop on an empty head,” advises Karl McKeever, one of Britain’s leading visual merchandising consultants, as he explains the “tricks or techniques” retailers use to get you to buy something.

But the folks at Metafilter quickly pointed to America’s guru of sales tactics, Paco Underhill, as the definitive expert on shopper psychology. I enjoyed this NPR interview from last summer and loved this 1996 New Yorker article on him and his work (“he is not a theoretician but an empiricist”).

Men are more impulsive than women in grocery stores? Why did clothing stores start putting out tables instead of hanging racks? What’s the “invariant right”?

Sure, a lot of this stuff seems like common sense (and familiar… turns out he’s the guy who first articulated the “butt-brush factor“), but he lives by real observation and explains things well. From these pieces alone, I’m seeing things I’ve never noticed before.

Now I want to get his book.

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