Paco Underhill

CEO of Envirosell Inc., Speaker, NY Times Best-Selling Author

Paco founded Envirosell Inc. in 1986 as a testing agency for prototype stores. A consulting firm that does research, Envirosell has worked in 46 countries and with more than half of the Fortune 50 list. With branch offices in London, Milan, Shanghai, Seoul, Tokyo, Mexico City and Sao Paulo – it has a global reach. While prototype testing of stores, restaurants and bank branches is still 30% of its business, its largest clients in 2019 are technology companies trying to understand consumer behavior in store, in home, on the job, and on-line. Other clients include global Mall Developers, CPGs, Healthcare groups, Airports, Professional Sports Clubs, Theme Parks, Home Builders, Office Designers, and On-Line Agencies.

Paco is the author of popular books including Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping out in 28 languages and used in MBA programs, Design Schools and Retailing Training Programs across the world. His books and articles are used in English as a Second Language (ESL) textbooks published by both Oxford University Press and National Geographic. His newest book with a working title of The Future of Eating and Drinking will be published by Simon & Schuster in 2021.

As a speaker and presenter he has worked in 50 countries talking to merchants, marketers, bankers, technologists, hospital groups, government agencies and most importantly students. As the son of a diplomat who grew up around the world – he has a global perspective and believes in Edutainment – laughter and education are intertwined.

  • Posted on: 11/15/2019

    Is the environment Amazon’s Achilles heel or opportunity?

    We cannot continue to deliver goods in the way we have. Drones, cardboard packaging, paper, plastic much less gas and labor. Outside my NYC office window, I can watch the analog reality of Amazon as trucks and boxes are sorted on the sidewalk -- next to the trash containers filled with the above.
  • Posted on: 10/25/2019

    Free next-day shipping hits Amazon in its bottom line

    I am deeply troubled by delivery issues. Outside my NYC office window, I see the sidewalk where someone is sorting Amazon packages. Urban streets are blocked, cars and trucks sit idling, the carbon footprint of same day/next day/two day delivery are environmentally unsustainable. However digital they may be at the front end, the view from the street is still 20th/19th Century analog. When and how are we going to get to a better solution/system? My 2 cents.
  • Posted on: 10/24/2019

    Will customers get the ‘social proof’ they need from Fomo Storefront?

    Our research shows that customers will interact with screens only in specific places in the store - and that in-aisle placement often doesn't work. Where they do work is where people are waiting - a cashwrap line or outside/inside a dressing room. The danger in the U.S. is that screens in other places are play spots for bored kids and that the info they collect is flawed. We have been hired often to test interactive in-store systems and arrived to find the systems down. For the record, U.S. kids are interactive terrorists - European and Japanese kids are not as destructive ...
  • Posted on: 10/23/2019

    Will going fur-free move the needle on Macy’s brand image?

    How about leather shoes and jackets? We work with the ASPCA and other animal focused organizations - the issues are more complex.
  • Posted on: 10/23/2019

    Do angry shoppers make happier customers?

    As someone who started his career teaching in a Doctoral program in Environmental Psychology I could not disagree more. Sounds like a lab study transferred into real world retail - 40 years of research tells me it doesn't float.
  • Posted on: 10/18/2019

    Have Giant Food and Stop & Shop nailed ‘frictionless’ checkouts?

    The USA trails Germany and the Nordic countries in grocery checkout tech. Those markets have been driven to build and refine checkout often due to labor issues. Grocery labor in the USA is -- by global standards -- cheap and easy. I agree with many of the comments below. Checkout may be faster; the act of having to scan everything you buy in the aisle may not save you overall time in-store.
  • Posted on: 10/17/2019

    Will debt-free college make Chipotle the place to work in the restaurant biz?

    Nice idea.
  • Posted on: 10/15/2019

    Why are grocers still missing the mark with small food brands?

    This is one of the themes of the new book "The Future of Eating and Drinking" I am working on now. Yes we have a major loss of trust to many of the Global food brands. We want to eat better and healthier. We want to get beyond processed food. The farmers market is growing and the range of local products in that market has expanded -- the alternative grocery store that doesn't charge slotting fees is no longer beneath the radar screen. And those smaller brands are finding way to get their customers. My Ginger Juice from the Ginger People just arrived via the mail at my office....
  • Posted on: 10/14/2019

    Is BOPIS a good fit for Dollar General?

    Context. Never in our history has more cash been in circulation. Most of our economic measurement tools are anchored in the 20th not the 21st century. In the U.S. and particularly Europe the gray and black economies are largely unmeasured. Not a bad idea - but not a perfect fit either...
  • Posted on: 10/11/2019

    Will Sam’s Club CEO lead Walmart’s U.S. business to greater success?

    We like retail senior management who started their careers as associates. It shows boots on the ground experience. In the US Army we call them mustangs -- enlisted men who became officers. Retail remains one career path that regardless of social background or education -- if you have the chops, you can climb the ladder. Good luck John.
  • Posted on: 10/09/2019

    REI opens outdoor adventure gateway concept

    Cabela's lets customers camp in their parking lot. Does REI?
  • Posted on: 10/09/2019

    Will part-timers flock to Lidl after grocer offers health insurance for all?

    Good move. Like Walmart's venture in in healthcare coverage, this is an important evolution in American industry. Let's see how Lidl can control costs and pass that saving onto the single mom working 25 hours a week.
  • Posted on: 10/07/2019

    What if stores innovated like restaurants?

    The depreciation schedule for restaurants is less than the five year schedule most merchants work on. Based on tax law, it's not in the ball park for most merchants.
  • Posted on: 10/04/2019

    Is Walmart on the right track with new healthcare pilot programs?

    Sam Walton in his autobiography talked about his mission to serve a single mother trying to provide for her kids. Good for Doug and Walmart to try and tackle the American healthcare problem. It makes complete sense. It builds both pharmacy sales and OTC. Remember much of healthcare is more nursing than doctor based. Start with employees and move to the general public. The next step is consumer banking - again targeting the median American family with a household incomes of $59,000. They deserve a better consumer banking deal than they are getting.
  • Posted on: 10/01/2019

    Do retail metrics need to be reinvented?

    Full disclosure: I am founder and CEO of Envirosell, which has been a testing agency for prototype stores and bank branches for over 30 years. We have worked in 47 countries and tested retail concepts for more than a third of the Fortune 100 list. Over that time period we have used roughly 1000 different measures. Today, across all channels we have settled on 30 basic measures, based on the channel and the degree to which cyber-spaces intersect, we add to that list. About 40% of the measures we gathered 20 years ago in analog — we can get digitally today. Still, gathering data in 2019 is easy — figuring out how to apply it is tough. The measurements divide into two distinct groups. First biological constants — 90% of us are right handed. Our eyes age at the same rate in Tokyo as they do in Albany. Our group composition — single, same sex friends, couples, nuclear and extended family — again are the same globally. What changes is digital literacy — very much in transition and different whether the market is in a digital capital (think Seattle) or somewhere else (think Dubai or Susanville CA). Another big issue is the difference between the rich and the poor — great in Mumbai, but very different in Stockholm. Retail is a reflection of social change — that's what makes it interesting. Yes, some measures need to change, but which?

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