In this smart, engaging book, Lee Eisenberg, best-selling author of The Number: A Completely Different Way to Think about the Rest of Your Life, leads us on a provocative and entertaining tour of America's love/hate affair with shopping, a pursuit that, even in hard times, remains a true national pastime.
Why do we shop and buy the way we do? In a work that will explain much about the American character, Eisenberg chronicles the dynamics of selling and buying from almost every angle. Neither a cheerleader for consumption nor an anti-consumerist scold, he explores with boundless curiosity the vast machinery aimed at inducing us to purchase everything from hair mousse to a little black dress. He leads us, with understated humor, into the broad universe of marketing, retailing, advertising, and consumer and scientific research--an arsenal of powerful forces that combine to form what he calls "The Sell Side."
Through the rest of the book, Eisenberg leads us through the "Buy Side" -- a journey directly into our own hearts and minds, asking among other questions: What are we really looking for when we buy? Why are we alternately excited, guilt-ridden, satisfied, disappointed, and recklessly impulsive? What are our biases, need for status, impulses to self-express, that lead us individually to buy what we buy?
Are you a classic buyer (your head wants to do the right thing), or a romantic buyer (your heart just wants to have fun)? How do men and women differ in their attitudes towards shopping, and does the old cliche -- "Women shop, men buy" -- apply any longer?
Of special interest are the author's findings on the subject of What Makes a Good Buy? We all purchase things that we sooner or later regret, but what are the guidelines for making purchases that we'll never regret? What, for instance, defines the perfect gift?
Brimming with wit and surprise, Shoptimism will be delightful and instructive reading for anyone with a credit card and a healthy curiosity about American culture, through good times and bad. For here, in one vivid journey, is a memorable, panoramic portrait of our everyday self-delusions, desires, and dreams.
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.