WHY WE BUY by Paco Underhill, whose company follows retail customers around to determine what motivates them and why. His conclusions are often surprising, yet understandable. Still, some retailers don't get it. For example, many people go into big stores with the idea of purchasing one or two items, but then see other things they want or need. Yet stores don't usually have carts or baskets further into the store. If you can't carry the extra items--and you don't want to walk back to the front--you'll decline the purchase. What's the real purpose of the Wal Mart greeter--the little old lady or retired veteran who says hello? It's to prevent theft. Studies show that having a respected person speak to entering customers lowers shoplifting. (And you thought they cared about you, with entire aisles of junk food and soda?) The book also talks about innovative stores in malls from South Africa to Dubai, and throws in a chapter on the internet. A companion book to this would be THE PRICE OF EVERYTHING by Eduardo Porter, narrated by Walter Dixon. It's about why we pay what we do for things, while other countries pay different prices (sometimes less, sometimes more.) It depends on culture, values, availability, and what is subsidized by the government (and so true costs are hidden, as in corn and beef.)
Frank Muller. And if you're interested in learning how meditation can decrease--not just your stress level--but also depression, sleep disorders, eating disorders, and phobias, listen to a fascinating examination of how thoughts affect the mind, BUDDHA'S BRAIN--The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love & Wisdom, by Dr. Rick Hanson and Dr. Richard Mendius, as read by Alan Jones. I definitely recommend it to anyone who stomps their gas pedal the instant the person in front of them moves into the passing lane.