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What Women Want: The Science of Female Shopping Paperback – Bargain Price, July 19, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Despite continued pay inequities, in 2005 young women under 30 earned more than men for the first time in U.S. history, signaling greater influence in the consumer market. Underhill, founder of Envirosell, Inc., marketer to major retailers, draws on market research and personal observations to detail the ways that women are influencing design, marketing, and service in industries from car manufacturing to architecture to banking. What do women want? Cleanliness, control, safety, and consideration. Women are behind the growth in the health-food industry, new urbanist communities that offer the geographic closeness of cities and the safety of suburbia, and contemporary kitchens with open plans and appliances geared toward convenience. Underhill notes that trends continue to favor the influence of women with the reduction of the manufacturing sector that needs muscle, greater control over women’s reproductive lives, and an education system that suits girls more than boys. Underhill offers good insights, though his tone seems a bit off sometimes, and female readers are likely to wonder how the same material might have yielded different insights from a woman writer. --Vanessa Bush --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“With wit, razor-sharp analysis and a better understanding of what women want than most of us have – or at least realize we have. It will make female consumers think differently about their shopping and, hopefully, encourage stores to sell a whole lot differently.”

—Jayne O’Donnell, retail and consumer reporter, USA Today

"Underhill makes these fascinating details even more fun to read with a conversational, sometimes comic tone."

St Louis Post Dispatch

“What Do Women Want? A man who gets it. Meet the wise, witty and only occasionally geeky Paco Underhill, who explained to me why I prefer curved shower curtains.”

—Christine Lehner, author of Absent a Miracle and What to Wear to See the Pope.

“What Women Want is not just a great marketing book, it is an astounding study of the socio-economic forces of the last fifty years. Paco Underhill blends social history with scientific data in a sensitive volume that is a must-read for anyone who wants to sell anything. Period.”—Susy Korb, Brand Strategist, Harry Winston

"Underhill shows himself to be both an amiable and a knowledgeable guide to the shifting retail landscape."

Wall Street Journal


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (July 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416569960
  • ASIN: B0076TT42S
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,666,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paco Underhill is the founder and CEO of Envirosell, Inc. His clients include Microsoft, McDonald's, adidas, and Estee Lauder. He is a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

This book is a must read for anyone in retail or product marketing.
Susan Towers
Paco Underhill, affectionately known by those in the business as the Godfather of Consumer Insights, has done it again.
Average Consumer
There are patches of brilliance as one expects in an Underhill book, but much of it is just filler.
C. Denver Mullican

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By takingadayoff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Having enjoyed and learned a lot from retail expert Paco Underhill's previous two books, Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping--Updated and Revised for the Internet, the Global Consumer, and Beyond and Call of the Mall: The Geography of Shopping by the Author of Why We Buy, I was pleased to see he has another book out. Despite the cringe-worthy title, I wanted to give Underhill the benefit of a doubt. In What Women Want: The Global Marketplace Turns Female-Friendly, he makes the observation that women do a lot of shopping and not just for clothes and food. They have a say in big ticket items like cars and houses and appliances. Many women are not even married, they work for a living, and buy their own houses, cars, and appliances. Hear me roar.

It's a sure bet that Underhill didn't write this book for women at all. He uses awkward phrasing, making it sound as if he's reporting anthropological findings about a colony of exotic specimens with quaint shopping habits. He shies away from the word "woman" most of the time, opting for "female" and "female of the species."

His major finding is that women like things clean. Clean stores, clean hotel rooms, clean restrooms. Here's a flash for you retailers out there - men like things clean too.

There are some useful nuggets in the book, if you're willing to wade through frequent speculations that women like curvy surfaces as opposed to more manly straight edges. For instance, in the chapter about hotels, Underhill notes that women are more concerned with security than men are.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love Paco's work. I'm a Paco fan. His company and insights are remarkable. This book, however, is far from insightful...except for his observations related to Best Buy.

I preordered the book and waited in expectation for the day it arrived. I kept reading page after page wishing a golden gem would appear. "Why We Buy" is a great book with solid research that support his findings. This is a wandering, unorganized, pointless collection of thoughts that would be concluded by anyone who spends a day with their wife or close female friend.

Paco's and Envirosell's work deserves a better representation than this random collection of thoughts...

My wife, knowing that I'm a huge Paco fan, read the book before I could get to it. It took her less than a casual day's reading and she concluded that the introduction is more valuable than the actual content.

Women want: 1)cleanliness, 2)control, 3)safety, 4)you to be considerate...Now, stop there. The essence of the book has now been shared. Avoid the wandering remainder of the book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By C. P. Anderson on October 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Paco Underhill is a retail anthropologist. He studies, for example, traffic patterns inside grocery stories. He's the kind of guy who's responsible for why milk is at the back of the store, what appears on the end caps of each aisle, why some cereal goes on the bottom shelf and some on the top ... It's fascinating stuff. In fact, two of my favorite books are his previous ones, Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping--Updated and Revised for the Internet, the Global Consumer, and Beyond and Call of the Mall: The Geography of Shopping by the Author of Why We Buy.

This book has some of that in it. For example, he does well taking us around hotels, electronics stores, casinos, and clothing stores, and all with a special eye to female consumers. For example, ever think of a drug store as the female equivalent of the much more markedly male convenience store? Makes a lot of sense.

Unfortunately, the rest of the book comes nowhere close to these passages, or to his other books. Instead, what we get are rambling musings, with no real data to back them up. These cover areas that aren't suited to his retail approach - houses, kitchens, bathrooms - as well as others that might be - gyms, farmer's markets ...

Now, I would have been fascinated by what his research told us about these topics. And, yes, he's an interesting guy, a great writer, and certainly knows whereof he speaks. But, in the end, it's really mostly just musings.

Actually, the overall impression I got with this effort was that Underhill may have simply been "phoning this one in.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Thomas M. Loarie VINE VOICE on July 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Best selling author, Paco Underhill ("Why We Buy" and "The Call of the Mall") narrows his demographic focus in "What Women Want" to tap into America's most important consumer group: women. While they comprise just over half of the U.S. population, women buy or influence the purchase of eighty-five percent of all products and services sold nationwide.

This is a book not just for marketers but also for executives and business owners. To illustrate, let me share a story from my early days managing a branch manufacturing operation in Fort Lauderdale for American Hospital Supply Corporation (now Baxter Health). My parents would always visit my plant when they visited us from Chicago. The first thing my mother would do would be to inspect the women's room. She held fast to a rule that the women's room of any establishment said a lot about the company and its management. Cleanliness, the availability of feminine hygiene products, and a pleasant atmosphere (colors, sofa, etc.) were at the top of the list. She reasoned that since most managers (1970s) were men, they generally paid short shrift to the needs of the female work force. Those that did had a much more productive and satisfied workforce.

Underhill underscores, among many other factors, the "cleanliness factor" in "What Women Want." Many of us, men, need to attention to the needs of women whether they are in the mall or in our companies. And this book delivers on getting us to think again about what we need to deliver to provide a positive "experience" for all women. "No business can afford to ignore their power and presence." - much like what we find in marriage!
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