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I am posting two more BRs, #3, ("The Science of Shopping  pgs 97 -103) and BR #4, "The Signs of Shopping"  pgs 104 -110) The responses may be informal but they need to be complete answers that sincerely address the reading and all elements of the questions. Although I hesitate to give a length minimum, in general, responses that are 75% of a page single-spaced,hand-written notebook page tend to be more complete.


By this point I want to start having firm posting dates for responses.  I would like us to up to a through BR #4 by Wednesday, 5:00 PM (both classes). I definitely want to discuss these articles during our first meeting of the upcoming week. 

if you'd like to read the original, longer article, simply click this link. 

Briefly summarize, in your own words (with limited quotes) the following concepts utilized by
Paco Underhill in his consultancy:


  • Decompression Zone
  • “Butt-Brush” Theory
  • Invariant Right
  • Petting

Discuss the implication of Underhill’s practices, including his use of surveillance cameras. Try to
answer Gladwell’s question: “Should we be afraid of Paco Underhill?” 



 


Comments

Michael Ferreras
09/08/2013 2:08pm

In Signs of Shopping, the “decompression zone” is known as the area at the door where people adjust their speed and vision. It is believed that depending on the shoppers waling speed, their peripherals become significantly narrowed. As for the lighting, for example being exposed to such bright lights and suddenly entering a dark room, you would have about zero visibility due to the fact your eyes need time to adjust to a darker setting. This decompression zone helps us adjust from power walking along the side walk with the bright sun shining on us to a slower, darker setting of a retail store. Because of this zone, Paco Underhill advises that retailers do not display any valuables such as shopping baskets or promotional display because the consumer will not see it. It is advised, however, to place them toward the back edge of the zone. A strategically placed item would increase the buyer’s aware of it greatly.
Generally the consumer would gradually move toward the right when entering the store. Underhill calls this the invariant right. Many factors can cause this effect to happen. Design guru Joseph Weishar believes that the consumer, upon entering, scans the store left to right, taking information using the left hemisphere of our brain and applying it through our right hemisphere. With this thought, Weishar says that the consumer, after scanning, we would fix our sights “essentially forty-five degrees from where we entered.” Underhill believed the invariant right exists for most of us because many of use are right handed individuals.
Not every time we enter a store, the invariant right has its effect on us. Some retailers would set out a table with clothing for people to “feel.” This is known as petting. Just like the idea of a dinner table where we would pick up our food, retailers would set up a table for the consumer to pick up an item. Tables generally symbolizes touching. Petting would usually lead to the browser to realize how comfortable the item feels which would lead to a purchase. Other times browsers would be just that, browsers who pet certain items and typically leave the store. The amount of time a consumer spends in a store depends on how much time they have invested which means their attention must be caught.
Once a person’s attention is caught it would only be a matter of time before a purchase is made. But even with all this time invested, anyone can be motivated to leave. “A woman’s being converted from a browser to a buyer is inversely proportional to the likelihood o her being brushed on the behind.” The butt-brush theory emphasizes how quickly a woman can bolt from a store if their rear end is bumped, brushed, touched. Underhill cannot seem to offer a solid explanation as to why women react that way, but obviously anyone touching our sensitive parts would make us want to leave the scene as quickly as possible.
Should we be afraid of Paco Underhill? I do not believe we should be afraid of him. His implementation of cameras in stores is for the protection of the people of and within the store. Also, his uses of cameras were strictly for observation of the average consumer, so there is no harm in that. I do believe the only thing we should be afraid of is the fact that he is indirectly losing our money by counseling stores to be better retailers. Other than that I believe Paco Underhill was conducting harmless observations.

Prof. Fulton
09/09/2013 11:26am

Good overview of Underhill's concepts. I do think you might want to give a little bit more consideration to the possible ethical issues stemming from his work. We seem to be living in an increasingly surveillance-based society.

Aaron Yim
09/08/2013 10:34pm

Decompression Zone means the space inside the front door that is void of displayed products. This area
needs to be emptied so that customers have room and space to adjust to the store’s environment. He
states that no “shopping baskets or tie racks or big promotional displays” should be made here because
no one is going to see it. In order to prevent the shoppers’ attention to look for merchandise in the rest
of the store, the Decompression Zone is very important.

Butt-brush theory means that women are far less likely to buy something if they are “brushed” or
“touched” from behind by a person, another merchandise, or display table while she is looking products.
The aisles of retail stores need to be wide enough so that the women’s sensitive butts are not brushed.

Invariant Right means people are comfortable moving to the right than the left because they are more
inclined to move to the right since most people are right handed. Retail stores should display products
on the right side to encourage shopping behavior.

Petting signifies that customers would touch clothes that are laid out on the table in retail stores
because it is easier for shoppers’ to feel and make decisions whether to buy it or not. When customers
actually touch the items, they are prone to want to purchase it more than just looking at them

inclined to move to the right since most people are right handed. Retail stores should display products
on the right side to encourage shopping behavior.

Petting signifies that customers would touch clothes that are laid out on the table in retail stores

because it is easier for shoppers’ to feel and make decisions whether to buy it or not. When customers
actually touch the items, they are prone to want to purchase it more than just looking at them.

09/10/2013 12:52am

Paco describes dead points of attention, at a Mall center which are not perceived by the costumer in The science of shopping, name as Decompression Zone. Meaning that is also a zone in which the costumer walks trough immediately, entering in to the store taking its time to acclimate to the store depending on its size. As mentioned by Paco Underhill it is a big mistake from retailers to place advertisements, baskets or great people while they enter to the store because it will only interrupt the costumer adjustment. Forcing costumers to give the popular response of: I was just looking. Instead of that Paco H. advices to place such advertisements and valuable objects at the very end, so that way once the costumer had acclimated to the zone it will be able to appreciate and observe the product more slowly from a long distance, increasing the chances to buy it .
The butt-brush theory states that a women’s product that requires deep examination
Should never be placed at an isolated area because if they are touched from behind in a sensitive area it could be interpreted in a bad way and obviously cause the consumer to leave.
Invariant right means that most of the people are right handed taught to read from left to right and solve math from left to right, therefore this reaction is part from the human nature already meaning that if a store places interesting items from right to left the costumer will have difficulty to decide. Therefore Paco H. states through the examination of video-tapes that order from left to right should be respected due to the high rate of right handed people and its influence.
Petting means that costumers will feel more familiarity towards a product if it is placed in an area were they can manipulate and grab (examinee its material and brand closely)the item for example a table. Establishing products in a table gets the costumer attention more quickly because can remain of a dining table where food or fruit can be manipulated and touch which has smiley in displaying clothes in a table due to the familiarization of manipulate objects.
I do not think we should be afraid from Paco Underhill because and his cameras because it only demonstrates the way a costumer behaves when entering into contact with items at sale, stating through their actions how they feel and also advising retailers from what to be aware from and avoid in order to so increase sells. About the cameras, I think they are fine because provide safety for the costumers and allow retailers to examinee costumers.


09/09/2013 5:01pm

According to Paco Underhill, the Decompression Zone is the space that is right inside the door of a major shopping establishment. Apparently, that is where promotional displays are usually kept but, according to Underhill, a simple move to the back of the room would increase their rate of purchase by at least thirty percent. The shoppers have just come off the street and so they are taking time to adjust the store and cannot fully pay attention to the items there. According to Malcolm Gladwell in “The Science of Shopping”, “…When potential shoppers enter a store it’s going to take them from five to fifteen paces to….gear down from walking speed to shopping speed” (98).
The ‘Butt-Brush’ Theory holds that however high the possibility is of a woman’s behind being touched, hopefully by accident, is inversely proportional to the possibility of her buying something. That is why, apparently, something that is marketed towards women should not be sold on or near an aisle, as there is a higher likelihood of her ‘butt being brushed’ there.
Invariant Right is a fancy word for something that basically means, American shoppers almost always turn to the right of a store when entering it. Paco Underhill has, apparently, researched this phenomenon extensively through studies and maintains that it’s true. As Gladwell explains, “He can show you reel upon reel of….customers striding in the door, downshifting, refocusing, and then, again and again, making that little half turn” (98). Half-turn is understood to mean to the right side.
The term, ‘Petting’, means the touching and playing with that customers do to items, usually clothing, that are on display tables throughout a store. As Malcolm Gladwell says, “..What Paco told me….made perfect sense: that the reason the Gap and Banana Republic have tables is not merely that sweaters and shirts look better there,……but that the tables invite – indeed, symbolize- touching” (101).
I do not feel that we should be afraid of Paco Underhill. Yes, he helps large corporations cater to your weaknesses and subtly manipulate you to buy more. However, consuming items is ultimately our own choice; we may be influenced to buy more things and, sure, there are those people who overspend, but the majority of us keep our budgets in mind when we are shopping and our wallets even closer. If surveillance scares some people, that is understandable and, yet, all Paco Underhill looks at are our reactions in stores. Stores are hardly a private place; we know we are venturing out into the public when we enter them. The government keeps surveillance at traffic lights and sometimes even on our private conversations, but most of us are willing to undergo that risk in order to stay safe or, we at least play along with it in order not to get a ticket.

Genesis
09/09/2013 5:49pm

Paco Underhill has his own terms of shopping characteristics that he has seen over and over in his surveillance cameras placed in stores. The first, named the Decompression Zone, is the area inside the door where potential shoppers adjust and relax their speed and vision. This is not a good area to place products or promotional displays because they will just walk by it, and not even see it. The “Butt-Brush” theory affirms that if something or someone touches or brushes a woman’s behind while she is “examining merchandise”, she will drop whatever she is looking at and leave. The effect can be from slight discomfort, and so Underhill has a “commandment” of clothes that require thorough examination: that particular clothing should never be placed in a narrow aisle. The Invariant Right is the verified and natural reflex to turn right when entering a store. The simplest reason to this characteristic is because the majority of people are right-handed. Petting, wisely named, is when people touch, fondle, or pet a piece of clothing “in the course of making the decision” to buy it or not.
Underhill's practices— as much as his studies and results make sense—are still creepy. These studies work as tips to the people in the business of consumerism, and in conclusion, all of Underhill’s studies imply that the sellers must “conform to the desires of shoppers.” So the sellers are learning a lesson in selling, making changes to please only us and we will be satisfied, having everything we want, and they will make more and more money, just another example that contributes to the more factor.
It might sound very naïve, but I was not completely aware that the surveillance cameras in stores also served the purpose for these studies, or actually, it’s more that whenever I walked into a shopping store, I never really thought that people were looking right at me, watching my every move, examining me. How I walk into the store and unconsciously turn right, my pace in walking, and my hands as they are placed on a sweater lying on a table. When did I morph into a lab rat? It’s eerie to think that I may be being watched at full attention the next time I walk into a store, and definitely does not make me feel welcomed. In all honesty, the sad thing is that even though at the moment I feel like protesting this method of retrieving information for consumerism tips, I most likely won’t do anything about it, and keep on shopping. At least they aren’t dissecting our brains to find the answer, right?

09/09/2013 7:46pm

“The decompression zone” utilized by Paco Underhill in his consultancy is used to capture the mind some might say. He has figured out the distance in the eye view in which it cannot help but to see the object you are presenting. In order to figure out that most shoppers turn right when entering a door not only takes time and observation but true devotion and a true interest in peoples behavior. This really opens your eyes and gives you a different insight as to how businesses sell their merchandise. On the other hand Paco is giving us advice on how to run a business. Either way the next you go shopping you’re going to think of “The Decompression Zone.”
The “Butt-Brush’’ theory is actually quite humorous because its common sense women don’t like to be groped by strangers especially while shopping. Paco could be considered a pervert using the “butt-brush” theory as a reason to touch and harass women to fulfill some kind of fetish. He’s touching these women and doesn’t understand why they run but there are many reasons. The woman can have a husband, boyfriend, she could be underage, she could like women or she just doesn’t feel comfortable. If one the women were to reach out and grab him below I think he would understand.
The “Invariant Right” is not scientifically proven. Paco himself only thought people looked to the right because “most people were right handed”. Which is true but not enough evidence to know the how people react. Paco took his “assumption” and used it and it even though it wasn’t proven it turned out to be correct and work in his favor. I feel if you have an idea go with it.
I’ve never noticed “petting” until now. “Where do we eat?” Paco asks. “We eat, we pick up food, on tables.” Petting is more comfortable/inviting then the clothes hanging up. When you touch and feel the clothes you get a sense of home as if you were to reach down and pick up your clothes off the bed. Of course you would want something easier to reach as well.

Vahan Khachatryan
09/09/2013 9:29pm

According to Paco Underhill, Decompression Zone is an area insight the front door where people gear down; begin to move slightly in order to focus on their shopping preferences. In other words, Decompression Zone is an area of transition from outdoor environment into the indoor atmosphere. He recommends not putting any items at Decompression Zone because nobody will notice them. They will have skipped the items displayed at the Decompression Zone by the time they are adjusted to the store environment.
“Butt-Brush” theory as its name implies, means that woman will stop looking at the items and eventually stops examining the merchandise when being brushed on her behind. It causes some sort of inconvenience; something that Underhill connects with the idea that “they are more sensitive back there.” That is the reason why Underhill suggests having large aisles and wider spaces for women’s product.
Underhill defines Invariant Right as the motion toward the right side when entering the store. The designer Guru Weishar connects the concept of Invariant Right with the functions our brain performs. He states that we absorb information in the left part of brain and then use this information in the right part of the brain. That is why people look at items from left to right. Underhill’s explanation of this concept is related with the fact that people are mostly right-handed.
Petting is the act of touching the clothes placed on tables while making the decision to buy them. Although merchandises that are placed on tables are not eye-catching; however, it enables the potential buyer to touch, to feel the product. Paco associates this concept with the action of picking up food from table.
The practice of camera surveillance in the stores is the marketing tool intended to accomplish the store’s business goal. It is a unilaterally beneficial implementation rather than “win-win” practice. By observing costumers habits, stores pursue one goal; make us buy as much as possible.

Kelly S. Hidalgo
09/09/2013 9:41pm

The “decompression zone” is found at the entrance of a store. This area extends approximately 5 to 15 paces from the front door. Paco Underhill has found that within this area a potential customer will “adjust to the light and refocus and gear down from walking speed to shopping speed.” It’s very unlikely that a person will pay attention to anything beside themselves here. It is for that reason that Underhill advises his clients not to put anything of value (i.e., products, promotional display, shopping baskets) in this area because it will not be seen.

The butt-brush theory is based on Underhill’s observation of female shoppers. His research has proven that if you “touch - or brush or bump or jostle - a woman on the behind when she has stopped to look at an item...she will bolt.” In other words, if you want a woman to spend time examining a product you will have to provide her with plenty of unobstructed space for her to do so.

Underhill believes that a basic fact about how humans shop is that when they enter a store they turn to the right, he calls this motion “invariant right.”He has an extensive video library that verifies this to be true. Thus, a retailer would increase their sales by displaying its most valuable products to the right of the store.

The touching or fondling of an item is called “petting.” A store that encourages its potential customers to pet its products also has a greater chance of getting the customer further into the store. For example, a retailer will station a table of soft cashmere sweaters at the entrance. Once the shopper picks up the garment and feels it fuzzy softness, he/she may be encouraged to see what else the store has to offer by way of comfort.

Paco Underhill seems to imply that all human are alike. Human behavior studied is found to be predictable and easily manipulated. I believe that he does not find people to be interesting or unique.

His use of surveillance cameras gives him a “peeping-Tom’s” view of human shopping habits. I don’t believe that he is a man to be feared, to answer Goldwell’s question. The research he conducts has given an advantage to the seller in that he has armed them with the tools to make purchases more appealing. However, the same research has benefited the shopper inasmuch it has made the shopping experience efficient. I say efficient because I believe that it is his findings that have provided a somewhat universal map for super-markets. I know that I can walk into any Ralph's or Vons and find all of the necessities along its interior perimeter walls. This looks to me like a win-win for sellers and buyers.

Prisma Hernandez
09/10/2013 10:01am

In the article “The Science of Shopping” by Malcolm Gladwell he writes his article based on a retail anthropologist Paco Underhill. Underhill’s research is based on how humans shop at the shopping malls. Underhill uses four different types of theory’s Decompression Zone, Butt-Brush, Invariant Right and Petting. Every theory has a specific meaning to shopping. Decompression Zone indicating that company owners should never place anything right at the entrance of their store. Since people won’t even take a glance look at them, just for the fact that they are coming from outside and as they’re entering a store; people usually stop to take a moment and get themselves together. “Paco calls that area inside the door the Decompression Zone, and something he tells clients over and over again is never, ever put anything of value in that zone-” (98). Underhill has thousands of hours recorded of people shopping at the mall and always avoiding the racks at the entrance of the store. Therefore he has enough evidence to explain to his clients why they should not place racks of merchandise at the entrance of their store. People usually do this at the entrance of each store to take a look at everything and later head straight to the back of the store and do some shopping. Butt-Brush significances that women shoppers are far less likely to purchase if they are “brushed” from behind by either a person or a display table while they are shopping for goods at the mall. Underhill’s video tapping shows enough evidence to show store managers and business owners the best way to set up their stores according to how people shop. For instance: Retail stores should avoid stocking up aisle full of merchandise or placing sale items right at the entrance of a store. Invariant Right is almost self-explanatory. Based on Underhill’s thousand hours of videotaping he has come to conclusion that people like to start shopping to the right of the store first. “Human beings walk the way they drive, which is to say that Americans tend to keep to the right when they stroll down shopping-mall concourses or city sidewalks.” (97). Meaning that people drive to the right side it has come to an everyday use to keep to their right. Therefore when people shop they are already use to keeping to their right from driving everywhere around and staying on their right side. Petting is another theory, based on his videotaping analysis he has come to terminate that people walk in stores and they love seeing the display tables out. It’s something about the merchandise being placed on the display tables that when they walk by them they just swing their hands on clothing article and soon lift it up and examine it and end up buying the piece of clothing they just “pet”. “Paco calls it, petting –clothes in the course of making the decision to buy them.” He makes his theory self-explanatory since, most of the costumers whom pass by a display table and pet the piece of clothing article they end up buying. The type of fabric is what seems to be calling people’s attention in order to make a purchase.
No, we should not be afraid of Paco Underhill. He is using his videotaping evidence as an example to show company owners how to set their store accordingly to how people like to shop. Paco is helping out the company owners by providing them with great ideas.

Rhea Lopez
09/10/2013 2:08pm

Decompression zone is the area a customer enters immediately after walking into a store. The first few feet of a store are often referred to as the decompression zone, an entry area customers use to "decompress" or adjust to the new space. Critical as this first impression is, shop owners often clutter this space with merchandise, says Paco Underhill.

Butt-Brush factor is a theory set forth by retail anthropologist Paco Underhill that women shoppers are far less likely to make a purchase if they are "brushed" from behind --by a person, a display table, or a piece of merchandise-- while examining retail goods. Underhill's finding, backed up by extensive video research, carries a corollary: Retailers should avoid jamming narrow aisles full of merchandise.

The invariant right theory is that upon entering a shop, people usually tend to go to the right side first. And shopper do not pay attention to goods displayed in the enterance area. It is a fact that the majority of people will walk to their right when they walk into a store. This is known as being the “invariant right” and is a result of most people being right-handed. Smart retailers keep this in mind when executing their merchandising strategies. By knowing the majority of the people walking through their doors will head towards the right, they are able to maximize this valuable floor space.

The reason for putting their clothes on big wooden tables is that it indicates welcoming. People eat and get food from the table; therefore they have more sense of picking up some clothes from them. This such activity is called Petting, where the customers touch the item thats on the table and makes a decision of either he or she likes the item or not.

Underhill is extremely sensitive of every single movement of people. The girl in that video would like to have a belt together in her perchance. Unfortunately, they did not provide a chance for her to buy. This is the issue that customers do not get everything they want in one store. He thinks that stores’ owners should focus more on how to make people buy more in their store, not just struggling with increasing the number of people come in. Paco's presentations are packed with surprising details, important lessons and insider observations. There's no reason to be scared of Paco Underhill just because he recorded every single movement or actions that people do when they're in a store. In fact, these cameras that are installed in a store are can also be for our safety when incidents happen. These cameras can be security cameras for potential shoplifters and wayward employers may be deterred from theft and other criminal activity. I believe that Paco Underhill use cameras for science purposes and it means no harm to shoppers.

Jeobana Gutierrez
09/10/2013 4:21pm

In Signs of Shopping, Paco Underhill describes “decompression zone” as the area in a retail store that is located near the entrance where costumers adjust their speed and vision as soon as they walk in. Underhill believes that depending on the shoppers speed when they come in the store, their peripherals become significantly narrowed. Underhill suggests that this area of the store needs to be clear so that customers have room and space to adjust to the store’s environment as they come in from outdoors. As he mentions, “no shopping baskets or tie racks or big promotional displays” should be made there because no one is going to see them when they enter. He suggests that a good way to induce people into shopping more and to look at other merchandise, the Decompression Zone should be at the end of the store.
“Butt-Brush” Theory or le facteur bousculade, emphasizes on how quickly a woman can turn from a browser to a buyer. Or in other words how quickly will she bolt from a store if their “butt” is bumped, brushed or touched by any item in a store while shopping. Underhill cannot seem to offer a solid explanation as to why women react that way just to understand that “women are sensitive back there.” He only suggests in order to prevent woman to leave the store immediately without buying is to put the aisle with enough space in between for one to move around without getting “butt-brush.”
Invariant Right means that since most of us are right handed, at a store we are more likely to go to the right side as we come in first. Underhill describes that when customers first come in into a store, the first thing they do is stay in the “decompression zone” and scan the store from left to right. After a customer scans the store it is very likely that they start going around a store from the right side first. He believes that retail stores therefore should adjust their best merchandise at the right side.
Petting, as it is common now days to see how some retailers would set out tables with clothing for people to “feel” its material, in other words to “pet” whatever is that they have there. Underhill believes that if costumers “pet” the clothing it is very likely for them to buy it instantaneously. As if a product or clothing is far away from their reach it is more likely that even if the costumer likes it, it would be far from its reach or touch and they would not buy it instead. Therefore, to induce people in to buying more stuff tables at a store with clothing would make a costumer more prone into buying more.
Should we be afraid of Paco Underhill? I believe so. Although I do not judge his work and thanks to the surveillance cameras and his observations he has made the shopping industry more popular, that’s what he is getting paid for and he is definitely doing a great job. I don’t have anything against the cameras, I mean either way in very store we are being watched without consulting us. But, I think that Underhill and he’s observations should really be taken into consideration on how much he is shaping Americans shopping tendency. We could say that thanks to him, we now buy more and more. Not only popular culture is inducing us into shopping, but also his work is making us more prone shoppers. He is going through our psychological side and inducing us into buying more. And that may lead to some consequences such as spending the money we don’t have and often make us to be in serious depths for buying things we do not need.

09/10/2013 5:53pm

*The Decompression Zone is the first five to fifteen paces of a store entrance. It is where customers adjust and refocus from a walking speed to a shopping speed. Underhill advises his clients that this area should not advertise or put products because no one will notice it.

*The Butt Brush Theory is the idea that women will most likely consume a product if her behind does not get brushed. If a women behind gets touched, brushed, or bumped, while examining the products there is a lesser chance that her browsing will turn into a purchase. This theory is based on repeated observation and analysis of Underhills videotapes.
*The Invariant Right is a verified observation that human beings tend to keep to the right when shopping. Not only in shopping center but as well as driving, or walking down a sidewalk. Based on the Invariant right idea retailers design their stores to display the important merchandise on the right.
* Petting is touching or feeling the clothes before deciding to purchase the item or not. Underhill says “... tables invite- indeed, symbolize- touching. Where do we eat? Paco asks, We eat, we pick up food, on tables”( 101) the matter is that displaying items on tables are a symbol of touching and retailers are inviting customers to feel their products to create a bond with the item.
Paco Underhill analyzes his observations and it helps retailers but it interferes with our decision making and privacy. A person should not be manipulated into buying a certain product. The variety of videos Underhill has filmed are a symbol of how retailers are staying informed to make people consume their products. They are aware of the different unconscious drives for example going to the right and are throwing products at us to manipulate us into consuming. I do not think we should be afraid of Paco Underhill but people should be aware of their surroundings. We should not allow retailers to manipulate our sense of consumption.

Prof. Fulton
09/11/2013 12:05pm

Good overview. I share you concerns about manipulation. I have to wonder how much of our time is spent being manipulated or persuaded by all kinds of stimuli. From billboards to TV ads, to store interior layouts, we always seem to be in the process of receiving those inputs.

bryce
09/10/2013 8:16pm

Apparently humans have gears as they enter a store, I imagine mentally downshifting myself in preparation for entering a store with my girlfriend as I am not much for shopping but am willing to go with her to help her pick out whatever she may be looking for. Or maybe I just put my body in neutral and wait to see which direction she goes. I actually can't imagine myself downshifting while adjusting to light and taking to the store but according to Paco Underhill head of Envirosell this is what takes place in the Decompression Zone of a store. Clients who hire Underhill to help make their store a success are told not to put much of anything in this area. He recommends to stores to display the items they want customers to pay specific attention to the rear or right side of the zone.

The butt brush theory suggests placing items that a woman might take her time to look at and pet be given wide aisle space. Underhill's vast collection of video tapes shows that if a woman is even just barely touched on her butt she will be done shopping instantly.

Underhill just assumed that the majority of people were right handed when asked about design guru Joseph Weishars theory of the invariant right. Which states that customers scan the store from left to right, pick an object on the right and go towards it from the entrance.

Petting is why so many stores with clothing put much of their clothes on tables as a way to let their customers touch, feel, and hold up different clothing articles to themselves as they decide which to buy.

Underhill uses surveillance cameras in test stores, and has a staff of trackers who use clip boards to observe all the little things that customers do. How many cameras and trackers depends on what exactly the store owners want to know.

It makes shopping seem to be staged, almost like they have to trick you into impulse buying. He does have a lot of power in the shopping industry, but people have to be smarter, if consumers are educated and aware they should be fine.I don't necessarily think we need to be afraid of Underhill unless you are worried about being video taped while you shop. I think most all big businesses have surveillance cameras in their stores to protect from theft anyways. Americans should be used to being on camera. How many times do you see a sign that reads "smile your on camera?" Or buyer beware.

Rosario Vazquez
09/10/2013 10:48pm

1. The decompression zone is the open space that a person encounters when they walk in the store. The reason why the space is cleared is because customers have to adjust to the light, and also shift from a walking mode to a shopping mode. Retail anthropologist such as Paco, suggest that anything on sale should be located at the back, since customers won’t notice the displays/ sales signs if they are in the decompression zone.
2. The Butt Brush Theory, implies that a woman is more likely to buy an item if she is not “touch- or brush or bump or jostle… on the behind.” (Gladwell, 98) Simply because a woman will react to the brush, and get distracted and lose their concentration on the item they were focusing on. Therefore, according to Paco it is better if the stores maintain “A women’s product that requires extensive examination” (Gladwell , 99) not to be placed in a narrow aisle.
3. The Invariant Right, focuses on the fact that customers tend to turn right when entering a store. When asked why, Paco stated that it was perhaps because the majority of people are right handed.
4. The most common way, that stores attract customers in order to buy their products is through petting. It is beneficial for the store, in order to display clothes on tables, since people pet the clothes and form a relationship with it. Also, tables in a store have become to symbolize touch, that’s why often times, stores contain tables with clothes laying on it since petting clothes can persuade a person to buy them.
Since Paco Underhill is a retail anthropologist, his duty is to examine the shopper’s move, in order to help the retail managers, attract customers into their stores. The way in which he conducts this, is by placing surveillance cameras inside the store and analyzing customers actions, and expressions carefully. Moreover, yes we should be afraid of Underhill, since his duty is to practically “spy” on customers in order for them to keep on buying from the stores product. Also since he analyzes the customers move, he already knows how people react and what works in order to persuade a customer to buy as much as they can, for example “she wanted a belt. A great opportunity to make an add-on sale…lost!” (Gladwell, 103)

fatima fuentes
09/11/2013 12:26am

As what I have understood in the reading of Malcom Gladwell’s The Science of Shopping, Paco Underhill made a thorough research about how people shop and how stores arrange their products according to the shopper’s behaviors. Paco describes the Decompression Zone as an area inside the door of a shop. It is the area where shoppers’ interests are refined by how the shop arranges its products. It is somehow the area where customers or shoppers will decide whether to go further into the store and shop or just glance and move on. Shopping stores should “never, ever put anything of value in that zone because no one is going to see it”, as what Paco states. This means that this area should be left open, not too crowded, and be displayed with new arrivals of products, so it gives potential shoppers a glimpse of how interesting the store is. It is sort of a “breather” for potential shoppers.

Another concept of Paco is the “butt-brush theory” explains that an item for women (dress, blouse, accessories, etc.) that needs critical examination should not be placed in a narrow aisle. This is because it is pretty much annoying and disturbing for the women to be “butt-brushed” while enjoying checking out an item, because of small space being provided. This theory is pretty much true, since Paco have observed, based on repeated analysis of videotapes, that this often happens in a narrow aisle area.

I believe in Paco’s concept of Invariant Right, which exemplifies how most of the shoppers tend to go to the right. I think it is simply because most of us are right-handed. We are used to have ‘right’ as our basis and somehow, the end point. As what Paco stated, we scan the store from left to right and then fix on an object to the right. I think it is basically because we do many things that greatly involves the right area. We read from left to right, and the way to move on through pages and get the main idea, is to go to the right side of the page. Right is somehow very dominant.

Petting is another concept from Paco’s study of shopping. It explains the subtle urge of shoppers to feel and touch a garment or item to examine and to reach a mild satisfaction. Stores have put displays on a table, when you get inside, to entice us what the product feels on our hands. It is also a great way to advertise their product, so that shoppers could actually know the material and quality of the product, and to compare the product to the other store’s merchandise.

I would say that we shouldn’t be afraid of Paco or Paco’s way of studying shopping. His study and research have greatly influenced and enhanced shop owners to seduce shoppers to buy their product. His observations also contribute to the economy by advising shop owners and designers how to arrange their merchandise so that people would buy it, and money will be circulated. His intentions are not creepy, but rather help better understand not only how people behave and think during shopping, but also how to have good strategy in the market. As what Gladwell stated, “His theories seek not to make shoppers conform to the desires of sellers but to make sellers conform to the desires of the shoppers”.

09/11/2013 8:44am

In The Science of Shopping, "Paco calls that area inside the door the Decompression zone, and something he tells clients over and over again is never, ever put anything of value in that zone-not shopping baskets or tie racks or big promotional displays-because no one is going to see it." Basically, Paco is saying that never put any fashion style in the front because people would pass by and not focus. They'll walk through it, scan the tables, rackets further down the store and will miss for example, specials, clearance, or sales. Me, for example, I do that when I go shopping. In my mind, I always think that the fashionable clothes are inside and not in the front, but once I start leaving, that's when I see the clothes. They're so pretty and I regret to stop but now I stop and look.
Invariant Right, to Paco is putting cameras all over the atore to investigate how the people shop and act inside or pass by the stores. In Paco's office, he has full of video cases of footage of people shopping.
"Paco is considered the orginiator, for example, of what is known in the trade as the butt-brush theory-...Touch-or brush or bump or jostle- a women on the behind when she has stopped to look at am item, and she will bolt." Paco states that women have sensitive in their back side and any feeling women have in their behind, feels good. But they walk away because they're afraid to buy it. The behind to women is sensitive when it comes to clothes. When they change to try the outfit on, they first check if it feels good in their body or if the fabric is smooth.
"It would never have occurred to me to wonder about the increasingly critical role played by touching-or, as Paco calls it, petting-clothes in the course of making the decision to buy them," indicates women go shopping and "pets" the clothes. They do that because to see whether if they want to buy it. For example, when I go to table to table, that what I do, "pet". I pet because I'm thinking if I should buy it, or it's worth my money. Women always double think it while petting because it's a sense if we need it or we just want it. But it's mostly doubt because it depends of the price tag.
Underhill's practice using the footages to see how people act when they enter the stores, shows bogy language. For example, When Paco and Malcolm were in the office of Paco, they were analyzing the mother, father and the teenage daughter. They were seeing how the teenage daughter was looking at herself while trying on the jeans. She was figuring out if the jeans looked hot on her.
In my opinion, we shouldn't be afraid of Paco Underhill because he's just trying to help his store make pro-fit. What good would it make if he did analyze his shoppers and see how they shop and put the clothing on the right part. He would have own any stores, he''ll probably be bankrupt.

Stefanie Jadidi
09/11/2013 9:18am

The “Decompression Zone” is the area inside the door of a store where a shopper simply decompresses and pauses for a minute, shifting from walking to shopping mode. This is where they can regain their focus from their walk to the store. The invariant right is where shoppers go once they enter the store-they walk to the right. Paco Underhill has surveillance footage of shoppers doing this. Now that I think about it, I always tend to walk to the right of a store. This reading is so interesting because it applies to just about every type of person. Design guru Joseph Weishar says that we “absorb and digest information in the left part of the brain and assimilate and logically use this information in the right half.” The butt brush theory is fascinating because this really made me think and it does make sense. This theory was originated by Paco’s close analysis of women’s behinds being brushed or touched by aisles or items while they are shopping and looking at merchandise. When a woman gets brushed against on her behind, she will tend to flinch or move away from whatever it is, therefore interrupting her focus and not purchase something and move away from that aisle. He suggests that stores are not to display items that require a lot of time to decide on in narrow aisles. I am guilty of petting clothes. Petting is when a shopper picks up an item or touches it. Items are placed on tables because it’s inviting and shoppers tend to buy more items off of a table. I always grab the sleeves of items that are hanging and pick up and fondle items on tables to feel the fabric.
Paco Underhill has developed a part of retail anthropology with his use of surveillance cameras. He has extensively studied shoppers for a decade and knows more about their habits than anyone. He is based on facts and it is pretty difficult to argue with them. His mother even calls him the best spy in America. He is the eyes in the sky of retail stores watching our every move. It does seem to be a bit creepy that Paco Underhill’s job is to critically watch and analyze a shopper’s every move without them knowing. I do not think we should not be afraid of him. The point is that through his surveillance and studies, he cannot manipulate or make the shopper do anything against their will. He can, however, make the retailer change their ways in order to see an improvement in their sales. He is ultimately on the shopper’s side. His purpose is to make the shopper’s experience more pleasurable by teaching retailers humbleness. Is the customer always right? Well Paco would know, he knows what a shopper is thinking and feeling, just by simply watching. That may be intimidating to some who feel that his power over retailers controls how they in turn control how we spend. But shoppers will go invariantly right or pet clothing as it is embedded in a person’s natural instinct. Ultimately, people are not programmed robotic shoppers; they still have control in the end whether they buy an item or walk out with nothing.

Gladys Pereira
09/11/2013 10:50am

Blog Response #3
In "The Science of Shopping" the decompression zone is a door to put anything of value in that zone. Decompression zone will increase at least thirty percent once it's moved to the back edge of the zone, and even more if it's placed to the right. The butt-rush theory or as Paco calls it more delicately, le facteur bousculade which tends to hold that the likelihood of a woman's being converted from a browser to a buyer is inversely proportional to the likelihood of her being brushed on her behind while she's examining merchandise. Invariant Right is a function of the fact that we "absorb and digest information in the left part of the brain" and "assimilate and logically use this information in the right half," the result being scan the store from left to right and then fix the object to the right. Petting means touching cloth when your shopping. People start to touch cloth while they are making the decision on whether to buy them. It gives shoppers the advantage on petting cloth to makes sure whether it is good waist your money on buy it or not. We should be afraid of Paco Underhill because he is a brilliant man of coming up with this brilliant ideas on how to run a succesful store. That's a way on how to manage a store and make sure every detail is going on. Knowing his customers and employees if the customers are being please with the products and if the employees are doing their job and working hard.

Steven Diermissen
09/11/2013 11:11am

Many stores that sell products like foods, clothing, and technology hire consultants known as “retail anthropologists.” A retail geographer like Paco Underhill usually observes the consumers, sometimes by hidden cameras, in order to get information of the shopping behavior, and maximize the store’s profits. This seems similar to the situation George Orwell describes in his novel 1984 in which a sort of “Big Brother” observes the consumer’s every movement and every statement. This may not appeal to the average person since many prefer to have their privacy.
One major strategy retailers are recommended is to redirect the path of the store so the shopper always walks to the right. Referred to as the Invariant Right, Underhill observes that the average American tends to walk on the right whether it is on the sidewalk or in the concourses of shopping malls.
Another strategy used by retailers is to leave a space of at least five to fifteen paces. Known as the Decompression Zone, Underhill believes that the space is important as the shoppers entering the store get used to the store’s ambiance, gather themselves together, and start shopping. He believes that combining the Invariable Right with the Decompression Zone correctly could maximize the amount of shoppers who venture into the store to find more products.
A third method employed by the retailers utilize is to widen the aisles to prevent the shoppers from bumping into each other. Considered to be the “Butt-Brush” Theory, women shoppers tend to stop and observe a product that she may consider purchasing. Underhill has observed that when people “Touch — or brush or bump or jostle — a woman on the behind when she has stopped to look at an item…she will bolt.” (Maasik 99)
One final method stores use to maximize their sales is one Underhill calls Petting. The strategy of petting in stores is utilized by placing clothing on tables where people can feel the fabric. It also serves as a way to “fit into the warm and relaxing residential feeling that the Gap and Banana Republic are trying to create in their stores”. (Maasik 101)
These marketing strategies utilized by the retailers allow them to manipulate the minds of the consumers and get them to spend more money than they would otherwise do. Americans, however, shouldn’t be afraid of people like Paco Underhill and control their spending habits to only buy what they need.

Ben Huh
09/11/2013 4:35pm

Paco Underhill states the Decompression Zone is the immediate area right inside the front door of a store. He writes that this area is where customers usually downshift from their normal paced walk and refocus to their new surroundings. Paco Underhill advises his clients to “never, ever put anything of value in that zone- not shopping baskets or tie racks or big promotional displays- because no one if going to see it”. The “Butt-brush” theory is described as when a woman is touched, or brushed, on her behind, it is very likely she will not be shopping there any longer. This leads to the store creating wider aisles for women to shop comfortably with more open space. The Invariant Right means that most customers will usually steer right when first entering a store. Design guru Joseph Weishar explains that “we scan the store from left to right and then fix on an object to the right”. While Paco Underhill shrugs at this statement, he believes it is because most people are right-handed. “Petting” in this article is explained as when customers actually touch the material they are examining. Some customers may pick up the item for a better feel or some might just “pet” them while walking by. It is this interaction that many times leads to a sale.
Paco Underhill’s use of surveillance cameras to analyze how customers shop is very useful in our society today. It can help and save businesses by giving the retailer an insight of the customer’s mind. This can lead to a better understanding of a customer’s wants and their tendencies once inside the store. I see no reason why anyone should be afraid of Underhill’s practices because it gives retailers a chance to cater to the customer’s needs. If these tactics were not practiced, it would be harder to shop. The flow of foot traffic inside stores would be slower due to narrower aisles and customers might not be able to find what they are looking for as fast. The use of Paco Underhill’s studies has greatly increased the customer’s shopping experience and its effectiveness.

09/11/2013 4:38pm

In the article The Science of Shopping, Malcolm Gladwell, the reporter, explains how the “Decompression Zone” is the area that shoppers do not exactly see. When shoppers enter the store they are adjusting their vision and speed. Malcolm explains that each shopper is different and depending on the shopper and there walking speed, there peripheral vision because remarkably narrow. When the decompression zone is kept clear and those items are put to the back of the store has a thirty present increase in sales. This number was provided from Paco’s research that was done using hidden cameras that was placed facing the entrance door.
Paco also believes in the “invariant right” because it is recorded with camera and Malcolm says, “he can show you reel upon reel of grainy entryway video-customers string in the door, downshifting, refocusing, and then, again and again, making that little half turn.” This quote explains how the invariant right is tested, observed and proven fact. This is a mind and psychological reaction. The retail companies thought of another new idea to grab attention called the “Butt-brush” theory. Paco has not proven this action to be true. Malcolm explains why this theory is called the butt-brush by saying, “Touch-or brush or bump or jostle-a woman on the behind when she has stopped to look at an item, and she will bolt.” It is interesting to see all the research and the thought that retail companies put into only organizing the stores. Can you imagine, if only a decompression zone can increase thirty percent of income, how much every little change can help or break a store.
It is said that women like feeling the items that they come across of. This is call “petting”. Petting cloths also increases income because it helps consumers make decisions in buying the items. I myself have to touch the items before buying them because I like to feel what kind of fabric. When a shopper enters the store and they feel the items it helps them get a feel of what is in the store. In my opinion, this theory is true because I have notices that when I go to Disney baby to buy my cousins cloths, I touch almost every item till I find what I want. Paco explains how this action helps the “course of making the decision to buy them.”

09/11/2013 5:11pm

Paco Underhill is a retail anthropologist and an urban geographer who uses hidden cameras to follow peoples shopping behaviors. He brought out concepts such as the Decompression Zone, “Butt-Brush” Theory, Invariant Right and Petting to evaluate consumer behavior. According to Paco, he says in the Science of Life, “Paco calls that area inside the door the Decompression Zone and something he tells the clients over and over again is never, ever put anything of value in that zone- not shopping baskets or tie racks or big promotional displays-because no one is going to see it.” In this quote Paco explains that when people walk in they don’t really pay attention what there is in that little compressed space, they are more into going further more in the store to see what the store has for sale. He advises sellers not to do this because they will lose business since people will not pay attention to see what they have in front.
Second concept is the “Butt-Brush” Theory. Paco calls it “le facteur bousculade.” This theory explains the behaviors of woman shopping. Sales people make the table narrow as possible for people (woman) to pass by and instead of looking for something, they will actually buy it. Every time they bump into something they will like to observe and see what they bumped into and higher chances are they will buy it. Companies can make a lot of money by understanding the psychology of consumers in this case the woman.
Third concept is the Invariant Right. Paco believes in the Invariant Right. The invariant right means something we can call a reflex f turning to the right. He also stated that if the sellers move everything from the decompression zone to the back right side they will increase the money they usually make. If the sellers do this then the Invariant Right will actually work.
Last but not least the fourth concept is the Petting. Paco noticed people petting clothing or any product after they pass by it. They don’t necessarily have to buy the product, but petting is enough. Consumers simply walk by pet the product and continue walking; some will buy the product, some will not.

Jose Gomez
09/11/2013 9:36pm

Decompression zone Underhill suggest through his different studies that he has done, that this is one of the most important zones to invite the customer. Once the shopper is inside this area the consumer should not be exposed to the most expensive goods that the store has, in order to make the customer feel comfortable and feel like they are not forced to buy anything. Generally depends on what store one goes to, each store has different ways of presenting their merchandise to the buyers. Also different ways of advertising depending on what is more popular or which age group they want to sell their products to. Underhill also talks about how we tend to look to the right, and that is where stores or retailers focus their advertising to catch buyers eyes once inside the stores. This because of common sense since mostly everyone is right handed, we tent to always go right when it comes to shopping. With so many malls and different stores offering similar consumer goods, like Underhill mentions is important that the customer doesn't leave the store.
Butt-brush he explains how women are targeted, and how stores present the product to them. I find it interesting how he mentions that product that is detail should not be put in narrow aisles. This totally makes sense, because the less detail a good has the faster it is for the shopper to make the decision to buy the product. And of course women are the ones that spend more time shopping then men, so it makes sense to have more selection for them in all stores especially retailers who sell clothing.
Invariant right well as a consumer, when I go buy groceries it is true what Underhill says. I always go to the right because I know that fruits and vegetables are always in that that area, funny how now that I am reading this and analyze it makes that statement real.
Petting is always important because one gets to touch and feel the product, and if it feels good most of the times we will buy it. I for instance when in need of new shoes yes I do look at a brand and then I try them on, and if the product doesn't feel good or feel that it looks good I won't buy it. Or when buying electronics, if it doesn't feel good I personally won't I purchase it.
Surveillance cameras are always a sensitive topic, Underhill use of cameras works for him and his research to help retailers benefit from his studies and findings from the recordings. Little by little we seem to lose more and more privacy, we can't go to any store without being watched. Now even cameras on the streets freeways if we pay attention on big cities every way one looks there is a camera recording your every move. But at the same time there is so many people stilling from stores, that through invading customers privacy they actually catch a lot of robber trying to take merchandise home without paying for it.

Tirsa Cueva
09/11/2013 11:00pm

The Decompression zone as Paco defines it as the zone inside the door. As a store employee you are not suppose to display anything that is valuable around that area. Nobody really pays attention to that particular are. He discusses how it’s been proven that majority of the shoppers tend to turn right, right away. Therefore one should avoid displaying anything in the decompression zone. The way this theory has been proven is by analyzing shoppers through surveillance cameras. Surveillance cameras have allowed Paco to study the behavior of people, in particular those shoppers. Once again the recordings from the camera have been studied by Paco, he has discovered the “Butt-Brush “ theory in which a women tends to become more aware and jumpy of you brush against or even bump into her back side. Therefore he states that it is better not to put something that’s going to be examined in a narrow space. This allows the woman to examine her object without the “Butt-Brush”. According to Paco invariant right is when most shoppers tend to go to the right, according him he believes it tends to happen simply because the majority of us are right handed. Petting is the sequence that occurs after someone had spotted and touched the sweater or shirt. This is the main reason why many retail store have usually the sweaters and shirts on tables, it allows the customer to pick it up and “pet” it. Underhill has based a lot of his research on recording tapes from surveillance cameras, in my opinion I see no reason why this should make me be afraid of Paco Underhill. With today’s technology I would be surprise if wherever I were to walk in there would be no surveillance camera. Paco is simply doing his job, no reason to fear the man behind these crazy theories.

Ashli Lilly
09/11/2013 11:40pm

In the book “The signs of life in the USA (The science of shopping) there are several terms associated with the behaviors of consumers.

The first term is what is referred to as a decompression zone. A brief description of this term is generally the area of display that is most often minimally noticed due to consumers over stimulation of senses. Usually a decompression zone is used to allow the buyer time to adjust to their new surrounds without missing any significant products or services. A second term used in the reading was the butt-brush theory. Defined by Paco Underhill this theory represents the anxiety felt by a woman who is bumped or jostled on the bottom while perusing. This occurrence of course suggests the phenomenon that causes her to flee the shopping zone where she is located thus diminishing her likelihood to convert from a browser to a buyer.
Invariant Right is also a term mentioned in the book. Defining this term is a bit more scientific in the manner that the behavior is acted upon unconsciously due to the natural functioning of our brains. It is proven that the left sides of our brains intake and process information which is then logically set in action by the right sides of our brains. In laymen’s terms this definition translates to the fact that most humans in general have a certain natural attraction to fixate on things located to the right side. The last term that we will discuss in this overview of the reading is the term called petting. Petting is the action of touching or rubbing an item. The significance of petting by a consumer is it is a way to connect to the product.

By utilizing video footage of shoppers in retail settings Underhill was able to set a baseline for the behaviors and routines most often seen in consumers. This footage showed evidence that on a mass scale the most common action of individuals was focusing their attention to items on their right side. Paco suggests that despite the location the shopper entered the store, the shopper’s first response of interest, therefore direction, will always be to the right. I have to personally covey that what is also appealing to shoppers, as I am one, is the fact that items on the right side are also easily accessed. No changing lanes, no dodging other shoppers and no added effort to visit the product. That fact alone is seductive enough to make even myself stop and examine a display on the right side.

Researchers and thinkers alike should embrace concepts such as Paco Underhills with intentions to expand those ideas. As science helps to explain the rationale behind theory’s such as the invariant right we must also encourage ways to intellectualize the levels of behavior that science does not explain.

Johnny Ramirez
09/12/2013 10:59am

The Decompression Zone is the entrance of the store where costumers adjust themselves to light and “gear down down from walking speed to shopping speed.” When entering a store, having a open space is a good for costumers to know they environment and five to fifteen paces is just enough for your eyes to adjust to the store’s lighting. Paco Underhill states that never, ever put anything in this zone “-not shopping baskets or tie racks or big promotional displays-” because people will not see it.

“Butt-brush” theory is know to be when a woman is less likely to buy a item because she was touch, brush, or bump from the behind. Women tend to be “more sensitive back there” and most likely will leave the store. Aisles that have women products should never be place in a narrow place.

When people shop, we tend to always go to the right. This is call “Invariant Right.” Paco verified this by putting cameras by the entrance and when costumers are refocus, they usually go right of the store. We “absorb and digest information in the left part of the brain and assimilate and logically use this information in the right half.” We scan the store from all around and then mostly fix our eyes on a object towards our right. Putting items on the right is most recommended to increase sells.

Petting is when is costumers is allow to touch a product that is lay out in front them on a table. Costumers that get to touch an item are mostly likely to buy it than just looking at.

Should we be afraid of of Paco Underhill? No, we shouldn’t. All of the cameras he has put up look just like any normal security camera, which every store has. They are all hazy and soundless, so he doesn’t get involved in costumer’s conversation.

09/12/2013 11:01pm

The Science Of Shopping is an article written by Malcolm Gladwell for The New Yorker. In it Gladwell introduces Paco Underhill, an urban geographer turned retail anthropologist. Underhill explains in depth that the stores that we walk into have already counted our steps and predicted what direction we will turn as we walk in. According to Gladwell “In such a competitive environment retailers don’t just want to know how shoppers behave in their stores. They have to know. “

Corporations pay millions of dollars to know what’s inside a consumer’s mind and Paco Underhill is the man for the job. After scrutinizing surveillance videos for well over a decade he is able to distinctly pinpoint the amount of steps it will take a customer to unwind after he or she walks into a store. This area is known as the “Decompression Zone” and it takes a customer five to fifteen paces to acclimate themselves to their new surroundings. Another highly recognized quirk is the “Invariant Right Theory.” When a customer walks into a store they will naturally stay to their right, and although explanations for this phenomenon vary, what anthropologists can agree on is that it’s been countlessly proven to happen. Some more interesting theories of Underhill’s include the, crude but sustaining, “Butt Brush Theory” which states that a woman will undoubtedly be startled by a touch in her rear when she is being converted from a browser to a shopper. More interestingly Gladwell mentions what Underhill calls “Petting.” This, being the most instinctive of all quirks, is actually influenced by a feeling of comfort. By simply placing a neatly folded sweater on a table a retailer can increase the interaction with the product significantly. Underhill’s reason for this reaction is that, “We eat, we pick up food, on tables.”

So the question begs to be answered: Should We Be Afraid of Paco Underhill? My vote is yes. There’s no question that this type of scrutiny crosses the line. When a person’s shopping goes from a simple leisure activity to an involuntary compulsion it is no wonder that their efforts for restraint are futile. This is a tremendous amount of power to have over anyone. Consider the ethics behind this type of surveillance and the way that it’s being utilized. It’s being used for profit with complete disregard to the violations of privacy.

09/15/2013 1:25pm

Paco Underhill is a genius to study all these habits of shoppers. I am going to answer the question of should we be afraid of Paco Underhill first. I totally think we should be afraid of him because he is dead on with his description of shoppers and how they act in a store. It’s unbelievable, from the decompression zone to petting to us going right instead of left. It’s so right its almost humorous. We should definitely have a fear that this one man is watching so many of us shopping this closely. I have not been able to walk into a store since reading this article without analyzing every step I make and the entire layout of the store.
The decompression zone is the first thing that shoppers see when they enter the store. A correctly laid out decompression zone will be one that allows shoppers to take in the new store they are in and get adjusted and accustomed to the layout. He suggests not putting a lot of key items near the front because customers tend to walk past them. And contrast the lighting with the outdoor lighting.
Butt-Brush theory is technically for women shoppers that when they are walking and their butt brushes up against things, clothes, a person, etc. that they are more likely to make a purchase then. I am sorry but this works for men too. I guess that is why Target places everything so close together in the sections, because I am always brushing up against something too and I can’t get out of Target without spending $100 every time I walk in the damn door.
The invariant right theory of Underhill’s states that American shoppers have a huge tendency to turn right a lot in the store, or shop towards the right. That is because we do most things on the right, like drive, so we naturally make a lot of right hand turns. I don’t find this true with Target on La Brea and Santa Monica. I go straight most of the time, that’s where the cosmetics, toilet paper, food is. The things I mostly go to Target for. On occasion I do go right where the electronics and clothing are if I need something over there.
Petting is an interesting item of Underhill’s. It says that customers like to handle merchandise and are more likely to touch things if they are on tables and such. People like to pick up and feel what they may be buying. I can relate to that. I love to go into Macy’s and handle the cashmere sweaters that I cannot afford. So yes I agree that merchandise likes to be handled.

09/17/2013 2:15am

Paco Underhill is known as the "Big Brother" of consumers. He pioneered the study of retail anthropology, which is basically studying consumer behavior intensely. A former student of anthropologist William Whyte, he followed his mentor's footsteps in studying the success of different establishments by setting up surveillance videos and documenting notes on the businesses' strategies that needs to be developed. His opinion on shoppers' behavior is highly regarded since he founded Envirosell, where top names in the retail industry - such as the Gap, Starbucks, Apple computers, and McDonald's just to name a few -would seek his counsel.

A successful store has followed Paco Underhill's theories on consumer behavior. The rule of thumb is that stores must never put anything of value within fifteen feet of the store entrance. In all of his observations, Underhill noticed that shoppers walked past items that are placed within the door. In this area - called the Decompression Zone - is where potential shoppers adjust their eyes to the light and the ambiance of the store. Store managers leave this area as an empty space; and if the retailer’s goal is to increase sales, they should place their items further inside their store.

In all of his videotape libraries, one of the most fascinating is the Butt-Brush Theory. In this theory, it holds that the probability of the conversion of a woman from a browser to a shopper is inversely proportional to the probability of getting a woman’s behind brushed or touched while examining an item. This theory may be tied to the essay “The Signs of Shopping” since it concerns mainly to the female demographic. Underhill further developed this observations into retailing’s golden rule: a merchandise that requires meticulous examination should never be placed in a narrow aisle.

Paco Underhill stated that “we have reached a historic moment in American society.” The shift on the way consumers shop during the last decade alone has changed dramatically. Retailers or resellers are now involving all senses of the buyers just to keep the profits up. The rule of the Invariant Right is more of a psychological observation from different anthropologists, but it was Underhill that used this observation to manipulate the placement of items in a store. Shoppers are drawn to turn right while hopping in a store, than browsing from left to right. That is why most stores place their clearance items on right. And even the sense of touch is being involved.Stores like Hollister, the Gap or even large department store brands. Most of these stores place their clothing merchandise on the table rather than hang it on a rack, to make potential customers to touch the item.

The way Paco Underhill conducted his extensive survey reminded me of George Orwell's 1984. The story featured a time when civil liberties were a thing of the past, and totalitarianism took over. The government controlled every aspect of each citizen's lives. But in this scenario, it is the sellers that manipulate the buyers. The idea of being watched and controlling the consumer's shopping environment is like luring a lab rat with a piece of cheese inside a maze. With all the products and different retailers out there, it should seem that consumers should have the freedom of choice; but the concept of freedom goes away when it all comes down to is retail outlets catering to our shopping quirks.

09/17/2013 11:53am

.Throughout his study, Underhill developed many theories about the behavior of the shoppers. Some of these theories are "the decompression zone”, “the butt-brush”, “the invariant right”, and “the petting”. To place these theories that one can understand, the invariant right theory is that upon entering a shop, people usually tend to go to the right side first. And shoppers usually do not pay attention to goods displayed in the entrance area or what is called "The decompression zone". Another aspect of shoppers' behavior that Underhill observed is the "butt-brush" theory which suggests that goods displayed in narrow aisles will be ignored or avoided by shoppers, especially women who dislike being pushed from behind. Shoppers also, according to the "petting" theory, prefer to examine the goods both physically and visually before deciding to buy the product.
Paco Underhill used to be a victim himself when he went inside stores and wondered the structural criteria for a well-founded shopping field. However as a consultant, Paco Underhill, a “retail anthropologist”, become an expert in helping a mass of shopping places move their goods in the right place so shoppers can conduct in the shopaholic venture of no tomorrow. Most of his studies are behind the camera of a small office in Union Square. These studies run for at least two to three days, just enough to hammer down the effect that people have on the cause of moving promotional or 50% sale items in the “decompression zone.” In one of his findings for the “butt-brush” theory were that such items like jewelry should be placed in wide open spaces so women can view such items with ease and no one in their personal bubble. In the same way, the “Invariant Right” is like using your right hand for every purpose of writing, throwing, holding, or playing an instrument. Most consumers shift to right to store because they absorb more useful items to be on that side. And to finalize these movements of “petting”, one makes an eager and final decision on what product to buy in the sense of how it feels. Paco claims that the tables on display with the folded sweater on top assure an “invite-indeed symbolize-touching.” Basically, Paco has identified and determined the science of how shoppers and the shopping model come to a close end of spending and visualization of how a consumer spends.
“Should we be scared of Paco Hill?” Yes would be my answer. Now when it comes to shopping at Glendale Galleria, I will be assuming that he is behind the black camera watching my every move to see what I do, how I move, and what I am looking at. Now I ask myself if shopping was ever an escape to reward myself for losing ten pounds and buying a new dress just because!

Albert Virgen
09/17/2013 1:44pm

In the article “The science of shopping “there are four key practices that Paco Underhill uses in order to improve the quality of stores.
The decompression zone gives an individual a certain amount of space in order to “decompress”, or relieve the excess of energy used from making the journey from the parking lot, or other stores etc. The decompression zone also asks of the store owners to not place any items in that zone (15 feet from the entrance) that are in need of attention because they will probably be overlooked.
The next item is the “Butt Brush Theory”, or le facteur bousculade. It is a theory simply stating that women have sensitive butts, and contact with that area causes them to flee. Whenever there is an item that is in need of attention you must make sure that the area in which that item is placed does not cause the woman to be in a tight space. If something brushes that woman’s butt more often than not the woman inspecting the item will tend to move away from that area.
Invariant right states that no matter what a person will invariantly enter a store and head over to the right side of the store. Thus, items of importance must not be placed on the left side of the store but rather the right side of the store. “Human beings walk the way they drive, which is to say that Americans tend to keep to the right when they stroll down shopping-mall concourses or city sidewalks.” (97).
Last but not least is petting. When a person walks in to a store and they see items sprawled out on a table they are enticed to “pet” the items on that table. Just like the idea of a dinner table where we would pick up our food, retailers would set up a table for the consumer to pick up an item. Tables generally symbolizes touching. When petting an item that has a comfortable feel to it, the shopper is enticed to buy that item.
Paco Underhill is a revolutionary in his studies of economic human behavior. It is imperative for him to study consumers through videos in order to gain information. The area in which I disagree lies in his documentation of these videotapes. Is it legal for someone to keep video or photographic images of you without your permission, even if it is for study?

Albert Virgen
09/17/2013 1:46pm

In the article “The science of shopping “there are four key practices that Paco Underhill uses in order to improve the quality of stores.
The decompression zone gives an individual a certain amount of space in order to “decompress”, or relieve the excess of energy used from making the journey from the parking lot, or other stores etc. The decompression zone also asks of the store owners to not place any items in that zone (15 feet from the entrance) that are in need of attention because they will probably be overlooked.
The next item is the “Butt Brush Theory”, or le facteur bousculade. It is a theory simply stating that women have sensitive butts, and contact with that area causes them to flee. Whenever there is an item that is in need of attention you must make sure that the area in which that item is placed does not cause the woman to be in a tight space. If something brushes that woman’s butt more often than not the woman inspecting the item will tend to move away from that area.
Invariant right states that no matter what a person will invariantly enter a store and head over to the right side of the store. Thus, items of importance must not be placed on the left side of the store but rather the right side of the store. “Human beings walk the way they drive, which is to say that Americans tend to keep to the right when they stroll down shopping-mall concourses or city sidewalks.” (97).
Last but not least is petting. When a person walks in to a store and they see items sprawled out on a table they are enticed to “pet” the items on that table. Just like the idea of a dinner table where we would pick up our food, retailers would set up a table for the consumer to pick up an item. Tables generally symbolizes touching. When petting an item that has a comfortable feel to it, the shopper is enticed to buy that item.
Paco Underhill is a revolutionary in his studies of economic human behavior. It is imperative for him to study consumers through videos in order to gain information. The area in which I disagree lies in his documentation of these videotapes. Is it legal for someone to keep video or photographic images of you without your permission, even if it is for study?

Albert Virgen
09/17/2013 1:47pm

In the article “The science of shopping “there are four key practices that Paco Underhill uses in order to improve the quality of stores.
The decompression zone gives an individual a certain amount of space in order to “decompress”, or relieve the excess of energy used from making the journey from the parking lot, or other stores etc. The decompression zone also asks of the store owners to not place any items in that zone (15 feet from the entrance) that are in need of attention because they will probably be overlooked.
The next item is the “Butt Brush Theory”, or le facteur bousculade. It is a theory simply stating that women have sensitive butts, and contact with that area causes them to flee. Whenever there is an item that is in need of attention you must make sure that the area in which that item is placed does not cause the woman to be in a tight space. If something brushes that woman’s butt more often than not the woman inspecting the item will tend to move away from that area.
Invariant right states that no matter what a person will invariantly enter a store and head over to the right side of the store. Thus, items of importance must not be placed on the left side of the store but rather the right side of the store. “Human beings walk the way they drive, which is to say that Americans tend to keep to the right when they stroll down shopping-mall concourses or city sidewalks.” (97).
Last but not least is petting. When a person walks in to a store and they see items sprawled out on a table they are enticed to “pet” the items on that table. Just like the idea of a dinner table where we would pick up our food, retailers would set up a table for the consumer to pick up an item. Tables generally symbolizes touching. When petting an item that has a comfortable feel to it, the shopper is enticed to buy that item.
Paco Underhill is a revolutionary in his studies of economic human behavior. It is imperative for him to study consumers through videos in order to gain information. The area in which I disagree lies in his documentation of these videotapes. Is it legal for someone to keep video or photographic images of you without your permission, even if it is for study?

stephanie cardoza
09/23/2013 8:01pm

In the article "The Science of Shopping" the author describes four methods to improve the quality of a store.
The decompression zone which is the place right after entering a store. This section of the store is an empty place so the customer can adjust to lights and ambience before continuing into the store. The author suggests that there shouldn't be anything of value in this area as it can go highly unnoticed. If something has to go there it should be more placed to right as that catches more attention due to people generally steering to the right side of any place. The second method, well its more of a theory. Is the "but brush" theory is when any women gets brushed on her behind while examining an item. This causes a discomfort and may result in no purchase of the product. The narrowness of an aisle is a perfect scenario of this occurring.Therefore, the aisles should be more wider and ample so there is none of the "but brushing" happening. Especially for items than need an extensive examination in order to purchase.
Invariant Right is we humans absorb information on the left side but and we logically use it on the right side. We can scan a store from left to right but we'll end up eyeing an item thats on the right side of the store. People reflexivity move to the right when approaching something. Petting is the technique that stores use on people. There are retail store such as gap that put their sweaters,pants, among many other things so a customer can see them and be able to touch "pet". This is to invite the consumer, as Paco said "We eat,we pick up food,on tables." The inviting of it makes the customer feel more comfortable and be able to grab the items placed there for the sole reason of selling.

mayra Lomas
09/30/2013 12:59am

In the article “The Science of Shopping”, Paco Underhill a retail anthropology studies consumer behavior. Underhill also developed theories on how people shopped. He developed this theories be setting up surveillance videos in retail stores. In order to increase sales he has also developed strategies on how retail stores should be design and set up their items.
Paco Underhill talked about the decompression zone. The Decompression zone is the area located at the main entrance of a retail stores, he recommends that this zone should be clear because usually people over past any items at the entrance of a store. This happens because people adjust their speed and vision when entering to a store. He also tells retail manager to place their items further inside the store or as he said “To the back edge zone”, to increase sales.
Petting is basically how some retailers would set out tables with clothing for people to “feel” the material of the clothing and the connection that this action has when people touch the clothes, which makes people wanting to buy such items. Underhill considers that if costumers “pet” the clothing it is most likely for them to buy it.
Butt –brush is when a woman is converted from a browser to a buyer. He recommends that items that required special examination should be place in a wide aisle because a woman usually likes to take the time to analyze the products
Should we be afraid of Paco Underhill maybe , he has developed strategies on how stores should be set up in order for us to shop or I would say to manipulate us to shop. He sure is the one responsible for many of us to be tempted to shop.


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    Prof. David Fulton

    I received my MA in English from CSU, Northridge and his .MFA in Creative Writing from CSU, Long Beach. I have  been teaching College English since 2004.. I am a published poet and was recently a Pushcart Prize finalist for my poem "Hubris" In addition to teaching,, I enjoy cooking, figuring out how to garden, going to the gym, researching Shakespeare, and watching MMA. 

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