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: 07/12/2019

    Will free, same-day pickup give Sam’s Club the edge it has been looking for over Costco?

    Sam's and Costco overlap, but the focus of both businesses is different. Sam's targets the small business customer first, the family consumer second. Costco is focused on the upper middle class family. Patterns of customer use to both chains tends to be different. Sam's is trying to facilitate that small business customer who has a different time pressure and is much more focused on expense management. The order today, pick-up today is Sam's innovating to meet small business needs.
  • Posted on: 07/11/2019

    Crate and Barrel takes the feed them and they will come approach

    ABC Carpet and Home in NYC has two restaurants on premises. This is a good idea where Crate has the space. I hope they have some fun with the process, like leaving price tags on the table and chairs and showcasing the tabletops they sell.
  • Posted on: 06/27/2019

    The data and analytics talk that must stop

    Collecting data in 2019 is easy; figuring out what to do with it is the hard part. Too many merchants and marketers look at the size of the pile and not the quality of the collect. In 30 + years of retail research we have learned to use as many "dip sticks" as possible. Observe in-store and online, talk to customers and non-customers, talk to staff and store managers -- look and process census data, and be careful not to get lost in AI or bluetooth based data collecting. We are looking for a better mix of art and science, global and local.
  • Posted on: 06/24/2019

    How do consumers define cleanliness in grocery stores?

    Our research suggests that if the customer sees cleaning in progress they are more likely to rate the store positively. Some Latin grocers have moved some of the cleaning process from off-hours to open hours - so the customer can see. We are asking the important question -- at what point in the store design process are cleaning issues take into account? The simple truth is that the easier it is to clean/keep clean the more likely it is to be clean. Interviewing janitors and the cleaning staff can be very useful.
  • Posted on: 06/21/2019

    Does experiential retailing play better on the Great, White Way?

    We call it Place Marketing. Money comes out of print and broadcast and goes into a physical location. Times Square has the Cover Girl store, the M&M store and most recently the Hershey Store. What management doesn't always understand is that so many visitors to Times Square are foreign tourists. I watched an amusing discussion as a staff member at the Hershey Store tried explain to a Chinese family what a s'more was. We also think of it as the Cathedral, Church and Chapel strategy. The Times Square Krispy Kreme Cathedral is visited by both novices and devotees of the brand.
  • Posted on: 06/17/2019

    How well did Target handle its no good, very bad weekend?

    How did Argentina handle the country's power system going down? Crisis management well done fosters sympathy. Beyond the people at the register and staff facing them -- the media coverage was generally positive. No one died. But it does point out our tech vulnerability. It could be so much worse -- look at Argentina....
  • Posted on: 06/07/2019

    How long before Amazon launches its fleet of drones?

    How much of Brooklyn much less East St. Louis is drone-accessible? Maybe deliveries to gated communities, or into exurbia - but please get real. We need a better system that takes into account the carbon footprint of our appetite for goods.
  • Posted on: 06/06/2019

    Will urgent care centers put a hurt on retail health clinics?

    No. The drug store based centers are staffed with nurses, who will direct a customer to a hospital or an urgent care center if appropriate. Nurse tend to treat with knowledge or information. Access to nurses is good for America. Inexpensive and effective.
  • Posted on: 06/05/2019

    Walmart’s checkout pilot puts shoppers in the fast lane

    North America trails Western Europe in checkout technology. Go to a Swedish supermarket and the majority of shoppers use some form of scan and go. The USA has had the luxury of cheap, often part-time labor and thus no economic pressure to innovate checkout. Also checkout and checkout line impulse sales are all high margin. Scan and go may reduce customer frustration -- but there go magazine and and candy sales.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2019

    Will delivering online orders seven days a week further transform retail ops?

    The carbon footprint of today's small package delivery offering is miserable. Its effect on traffic, particularly in urban settings is again miserable. We will have a distribution/delivery act at some point in the future to regulate more responsible access to goods. We might call it the Couch Potato Act, where convenience is making it to the front door and exercise is taking out the garbage.
  • Posted on: 05/28/2019

    Can department stores shake themselves out of the doldrums?

    U.S. department store industry needs to pay attention to London, Paris and Tokyo. Has anyone visited Ginza 6? 1.) Pay attention to the off-shore tourist interested in an organized friendly shopping experience. 2.) Be careful about organizing by brand rather than purpose. 3.) Burnish your food offering including menus in multiple languages. 4.) Curate for the young female executive - working uniforms. 5.) Be creative about gifting - the best graduation gifts are uniforms for success.
  • Posted on: 05/22/2019

    Growing demand for local products leads to out-of-stocks

    Both the food and the adult beverage markets are facing a local vs. global problem. The below-the-radar growth of farmers markets (where the range of local products is expanding - beer/wine/cider/whiskey and meats, not just fruit and vegetables) is teaching consumers they have choices. Climate change experts are also predicting that California will in 10 years not be able to produce the greens to feed the nation as the state has for decades. Where are we going to get our greens in the winter? The question isn't out-of-stocks, it's sourcing and inventory control.
  • Posted on: 05/21/2019

    How should retailers raise prices to offset tariffs?

    Cost of living for Americans is low compared to the rest of the world. That said, we need to see in our daily lives the impact of global politics -- trade wars, climate warming, gun control, reproductive rights, and the cost of goods at Walmart. Merchants have to do what they have do -- including raising prices.
  • Posted on: 05/20/2019

    Kroger launches accelerator fund

    The American Grocery industry needs a refresh. We have no real national chains and the thought leaders are regional often family owned chains that are not afraid of taking risks. Kroger historically has stood on the sidelines and watched -- cherry picking the winning idea that others have experimented with. Glad to see that leadership is trying to break that pattern.
  • Posted on: 05/14/2019

    Lands’ End is looking to get out of Sears like a bat out of hell

    Hell yes. Lands' End is viable and has shifted well with the tides. Sears is badly aging compost that needs to join Montgomery Ward in the retail history books.

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