June 22, 2002

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Being the Shopper

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 9:26 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Being the Shopper: Understanding the Buyers Choice by Phil Lempert, John Wiley and Sons, 220 Pages, $27.95 Hardcover, June 2002, ISBN 0471151351
Above all, I consider myself a merchant and have been such for a good part of my life. Not only do I love making sales, I love to watch for buying trends and for changes in the publics buying behavior. Phil Lempert, the food trends correspondent from The Today Show, has written an extremely detailed look at the buying patterns and habits of supermarket consumers. He lets us in on what motivates shoppers, what turns them off, what they ultimately desire from their shopping experience. And Lempert discovers his information the old-fashioned way, by actually talking to shoppers, and more importantly, listening to shoppers. While this book is primarily focused toward supermarkets, it also talks a good deal about other forms of retail sales. I found Part Four, Shoppers Sense-Abilities, well worth the price of admission. Those fifty pages cover what a customer sees, feels, hears and smells when they enter a store, and how that can affect how and what they buy.
I understand that few of you own or manage a grocery store, however, there is much to be learned from Being the Shopper. In chapter 10, Getting Value to Shoppers, Lempert discusses how offering coupons or discounts can be an effective first step in building up your brand, though it should never be used in the long term because coupons do not make your brand, only products and services do. On the one hand, he writes, it seems crazy to lose money to reward present customers, and yet, he acknowledges, discounts give your company the opportunity to build relationships with your customers which will outlast any satisfaction which financial savings may briefly give them.
The authors incredible focus is what really sets this book apart. All the advice he gives is backed up with documented research and interviews with real shoppers. Lempert helps us recognize the importance of really knowing our customers and, in fact, recognizing the consumer in ourselves. Fascinating.

About Dylan Schleicher

Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.