Today's Wall Street Journal offers a review of Paco Underhill's new book, What Women Want. As readers of this blog may recall, I recommended Underhill's earlier bestseller, Why We Buy. Underhill is an expert on retail shopping, and he has unearthed his insights by anthropological study, i.e. close observation, of consumers in stores. In this new book, he turns his focus to female consumers in particular. Here's an excerpt from the review:
What do women want? Cleanliness, as we've learned. Also control, safety and considerateness. Give women these intangibles and a few others, Mr. Underhill suggests, and they will give your business their custom. As a case study, he invites us into Best Buy, the chain of cavernous electronics stores with the big blue-and-yellow sign. While its competitors Circuit City and Comp USA have disappeared into bankruptcy, Best Buy has survived, Mr. Underhill says, by adapting itself in distinctly female-friendly ways. Digital cameras are laid out on tables that are curvy and organic- looking rather than hard-edged and angular. Employees reassure the customer that they don't work on commission (women dread being hustled). Giant photos on the walls show people warmly enjoying the store's products. The central concept that Best Buy gets, Mr. Underhill says, is this: "Men buy instruments of technology, whereas women buy instruments of relationship."
I look forward to reading the book, and I'll have some observations once I've completed it.