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Shoptimism: Why the American Consumer Will Keep on Buying No Matter What

4.1 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0743296250
ISBN-10: 0743296257
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Eisenberg (The Number) reveals the mechanisms of manufacturing needs and wants in this book that explores every facet of retail consumption, from advertising to behavioral marketing, from malls to Internet communities. The author presents his own family's consumption habits as a litmus test, which, while providing context, effectively sidelines the experiences of those who do not embrace consumerism with the same fervor. Dividing the retail landscape into Buy and Sell, Eisenberg provides a cornucopia of consumption trends, brain scans indicating beer preferences, zip-code–based lifestyle data, psychographic information, blogs and buzz measurement. Searching for a Unified Theory of Buying, the author dismisses analysts such as Marx for misunderstanding needs and Schor for scolding consumers. Entertaining the possibilities of Brand Communities, the author superficially considers Bourdieu's concept of cultural capital, settling finally on a typology of Romantic and Classic buyers. Although a thorough compendium of today's marketplace, the author's friendly come along with me tone sometimes devolves into glibness, and in accepting conditions as is, his observations might prove as fleeting as buyer's remorse. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"As a so-called advertising guru for the past fifty years, I found Shoptimism to be brimming over with wit and sly insight into the darker recesses of the consumer's soul." -- George Lois, member, Art Directors Club Hall of Fame, and pioneer of advertising's Creative Revolution

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (November 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743296257
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743296250
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,473,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Our capable author offers extensive personal analysis-plus on today's kind of shoppers and sellers...in the mall, inside the store, on the internet. --Though, maybe by intentional omission, he doesn't say a whole lot about buying "stuff" on the web.

For the most part, Eisenberg takes a relatable look at why we buy and why we will buy forever (no matter what). Details are plenty and his story compelling. ~But it really goes directionless. For instance, the author leaves us with no "solutions" (even in his "Afterword") to issues of the inner- and outer goings-on of retail sales. ~Surely because, all along, he points out no real "problems."

It's a descriptive venture. On this page, he takes the side of clever merchants. On another, he's happy to side with buyers in their never-ending quest to amass as much "stuff" as possible. That's objectivity for you. There's no judgment. Nothing's "right" or "wrong." She buys. He sells...and Eisenberg leaves it at that. Imagery abounds. Quick facts and figures are everywhere.

~But who's this book written for? College professors on the subject have likely heard it all before and probably already have enough buy-n-sell books with far more depth and rigor. Matter of fact, the author quotes many, many of these university academics, study experts, and social scientists along the way. ~And, why would shoppers care about motivations for/clarifications on their own buying habits? Eisenberg suggests: "Shoes On Sale!" is the kind of particulars most shoppers really care about.

The book'd be a winner if it didn't get all tangled up in the vague psychologies of selling and (mostly) buying. Romantic buyers? Classic buyers? Mars? Venus? Freud? Tom O'Guinn? (I didn't know him either. --from the U. of Wisc.
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Format: Hardcover
Shoptimism is a fun and informative book about shopping, but it is much more. As a social history of America's past several decades, it informed me of much of what I had not observed around me and was nostalgic for many things I had all but forgotten. The book explores how shopping-related phenomena influence our present and have shaped our past.
For example, it recalled a memory from the mid-1960's. I was in a barbershop, waiting, reading Esquire magazines (of which Lee Eisenberg later became editor). In one, was an article called "The Ins and the Outs," in which numerous consumer goods, personalities, activities, etc. of American life were classed as "In" or "Out". In the next issue was a Letter to the Editor, which stated, in its entirety, "Re: The Ins and The Outs; what in the hell are you talking about?" If I could find the writer of that letter now, I would have him read Lee Eisenberg's book.
Shoptimism is full of information and wide-ranging references that entertain, challenge, and inform. As a physician, I found fascinating the explorations into the classification of "shopaholism" as a mental disorder and the examinations of cutting edge neurobiology as related to consumerism. The cleverness of the writing, with plays on the jargon of the topics and argot of the subjects, and the conversational tone keep the reading from being heavy even though some of the topics are weighty.
Mr. Eisenberg is to be congratulated upon the even-handed treatment he gives contentious subjects. He avoids polemics and does not violate the reader's trust. The book treats a trendy topic with academic thoroughness without forfeiting the fun of trendiness. If I were a marketing or communications teacher, I would recommend it to my students. As father of grown children, I will give copies to my kids for
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Format: Hardcover
In the era of hyper-focused, niche marketed business texts, it's refreshing to read a book like Shoptimism which provides insight that benefits a number of different readerships, particularly those on the Sell Side (the sellers of goods and their cadres of marketers, consultants and other consumer-enablers) and those on the Buy Side (consumers in their various iterations). Aspiring retailers, salesfolk looking to better understand their constituencies, consumer psychologists and wannabe Mad Men (or Mad Women) will all benefit from the book's "Consumerism 101" stroll through the mind of the American consumer and the entities that may be pressing the buttons that spin the wheels inside that mind. Individuals who want a better understanding of why they buy and what forces may be motivating that decision-making process (or perhaps to self-diagnose an alarming lack of such process) will also be well served by this book. The author's use of personal anecdotes, whether it be a recounting of his brief tenure as a Target floorwalker, a trip to the dressing room with his wife or his observations regarding his teenage son's quest for an elusive pair of Japanese sneakers, brings some real-world perspective to a subject that many consumers take for granted or spend little time analyzing. His "come along with me" perspective when delving into the nerve center of retail anthropologist/consultant Paco Underhill or exploring the seamy underbelly of the knockoff trade is effective and informative without dipping into the realm of sensationalistic "investigative journalism." Eisenberg's conversational writing style avoids the didactic but never veers into glibness.Read more ›
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