Jay's Reviews > What Women Want: The Global Marketplace Turns Female-Friendly

What Women Want by Paco Underhill
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's review
Mar 14, 2012

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bookshelves: business, audiobook
Read from March 14 to 21, 2012

After reading this, I thought a more proper title would be "What Stereotypical Women Want". I was quite amazed that the author based his opinions on very little hard data. He did claim to use data on one page, but that didn't seem like enough to me, not enough to base a book's worth of recommendations on, not enough to validate recommendations. This book is written to sound like all recommendations are based on the author's direct observations of how women act in retail environments, but when he describes many of these observation, you can see other equally plausible explanations exist which can lead to different recommendations or areas of focus. This is generalizing based on limited observation, which can be dangerous and wrong, like continuing to walk across a frozen river because the first step was safe. The author makes recommendations based on the author's stereotypes of women relating to shopping. Does the author do this to make the book more readable? Unfortunately you can't tell, there are no footnotes and limited references mentioned. But this tact does make the book more readable, and makes the author appear to believe he is an expert. Despite misgivings based on his methodology, I have to agree with some of his recommendations and generalizations. I just don't know which ones -- times change. And some of his generalizations are very vague, such as "women like security". Hard to argue with some of these generalizations for most people. I also took issue with the author taking credit for changes in convenience stores to bring in more women shoppers. The specific steps mentioned were taken by at least one of the companies he mentioned about a dozen years prior to the author taking credit for the idea. I was there working for that company. He lost credibility with me on that one. But with all business books, the test is whether you think differently or will take action based on the concepts presented. And with this book, some of the descriptions of what women want did resonate. Even though the book is aimed at retail and I work in software, I see some changes to how I try to present my software based on the customer's gender, including changes in presentation design and the words I use. Easy to try, and make my own observations.

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