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: 10/22/2020

    How crucial is last mile fulfillment to 7-Eleven and the c-store channel?

    7-Eleven Japan, the parent company, and other Japanese c-store chains have been accepting package deliveries for customers in the surrounding neighborhood for decades. Yes it does generate traffic. But remember American c-stores can be broken up into three very different businesses based on the level of friends/neighbors and strangers - it is based on the road/street they sit on. Next to a major highway - 90 percent strangers. On a state road - 40 percent strangers. On a local road or in an urban neighborhood 20 percent strangers. The package acceptance offering works best in the third category.
  • Posted on: 07/16/2020

    How murky has COVID-19 made retail data?

    Collecting data is all too easy. In a PostPan world, we need to use multiple technologies and collection devices to get to the truth.
  • Posted on: 07/08/2020

    What roles will store displays play in retail’s new normal?

    Almost every big box merchant is looking to downsize. Supply chain management has improved -- a store can have the same SKUs and shrink 20+%. The VM conversation is about stores taking more control over PoP and packaging. The idea that everything has to scream from the shelf is so 20th Century, especially in aging markets where for 40+ year olds, 80% of weekly purchases are the same thing. We also know that the union of product, package, shelf and aisle -- much less store -- is ripe for reinvention a PostPan world where digital literacy has been challenged. Yes Alice, the PoP/Display world is going to change.
  • Posted on: 07/07/2020

    Has the pandemic changed shopping behaviors forever?

    Many of the trends that were already in play have either morphed or been accelerated. Convenience + economy meets fear and caution. The pressure of time: how long are you willing to stand in line - whether to shop or to vote? Local and global/national are in major conflict - Connecticut versus Texas. The conflict between that haves and have nots. The choice of where we live - the micro-environment of the gated community, versus the city housing project. How will school work in a post-pandemic world, and what will be the effect on working women? And in turn how will that affect consumption? Yes Alice, the world has changed.
  • Posted on: 06/17/2020

    Who will come to J.C. Penney’s rescue?

    This is not a financial play -- it's a customer centered play. Can JCP get real? William Whyte in his book "City Rediscovering the Center" points out that when merchants leave their HQ in center cities they lose touch with their customers. JCP HQ used be in Rockefeller Center -- close to the media and close to garment district. In their daily lives, management had to see and listen to a broader world. When JCP moved to Plano, they lost touch and it's been a downhill slide since then.
  • Posted on: 06/11/2020

    Are tourist dollars coming back any time soon?

    Shopping vacations for the foreseeable future are over. London, Paris, New York, Dubai, with air travel curtailed, have seen severe drop offs. In the face of economic and social change spending money is more guarded. Retail around road trip destinations will pick up, but AirB&B and Vrbo are failing based on cleaning perceptions.
  • Posted on: 05/05/2020

    Kristin’s farm-to-consumer model fills in food supply gaps at a critical time

    Hear hear. The local food movement is here to stay. We have to ask the tough question would you rather eat organic spinach that got picked two weeks ago in CA, or something picked a day ago, but without the national organic certification? The farmers market movement is no longer functioning under the radar screen.
  • Posted on: 04/28/2020

    Do malls need to add curbside pickup service to reopen?

    American malls are ripe for re-invention. They need to morph into ALLS -- housing, office, a COMPLETE mix of tenants. And may be have schools, libraries, churches, day care centers, doctor's offices and maybe government offices. There is no short term solution. It is a three year project.
  • Posted on: 03/06/2020

    Can Old Navy’s boss lead a turnaround at Gap Inc.?

    Most peoples' closets divide into uniforms and costumes. Uniforms are worn Monday thru Friday -- to work and to play. Costumes are worn on Saturday night and sometimes on Sunday. The Gap prospered when it was clear in-store, in visual merchandising, etc., that it was in the uniform business. The key is making it unambiguous -- you can wear this to the business casual office and/or that Thursday night date. Customers find a uniform solution and go back. Speaking personally as a tall man, there is not a single pair of pants at the Gap I can buy in-store -- they don't stock 36 inch inseams. Hope she can correct that!
  • Posted on: 03/06/2020

    Can Lassie save the mall?

    In NYC it is a health code violation to bring your pet into a retail location that sells food -- the supermarket, the drug store, the corner deli or a restaurant. No fine to the person with the pet, but to the store/restaurant manager. Yes, if the dog has a ADA tag it's allowed. That said, veterans groups are angry that ADA is being used by pet owners to take their animals into stores, airports and onto airplanes -- when the ADA was meant to assist those who had served their country and paid a price.
  • Posted on: 03/04/2020

    Target thinks small to succeed big time

    Retail has to follow housing trends. Many American cities are being repopulated. They are under- or historically poorly-served markets. Target like other national players needs to get local. 85 percent of the product mix stays the same - but the 15 percent needs to be well chosen. Anyone know what Banana Ketchup is? Or the importance in some markets of Halal meats?
  • Posted on: 03/02/2020

    Retailers go into business triage mode as coronavirus enters the U.S.

    The Mall at Short Hills was empty. More associates than customers in the Apple store. Costco in New Jersey was packed -- water, toilet paper, and paper towels flying out the door. There are still more people with the plain flu - which has a higher mortality rate. My cynical self says this is an event for day traders. Yet there I was at Costco with the crowds on Sunday...
  • Posted on: 02/26/2020

    Independent grocers need to make dramatic upgrades in marketing tech

    The challenge isn't the tech - it's using the tech to meet the challenge. How do you get local? How do you connect with your customers and service them (and educate them) better?
  • Posted on: 02/24/2020

    Should grocers just say ‘no’ to big CPG brands when it comes to shelf decisions?

    Catman has reached a crossroads. Time for the merchant and the brands to do a better job managing not just the plan-o-gram and shelf sets, but to understand the broader store better. How does Catman intersect with store design and visual merchandising?
  • Posted on: 12/06/2019

    Do independent liquor stores need a rehab?

    We have long history working with the adult beverage industry. The challenge is understanding the local nature of their markets. Yes stocking mega brands is a no brainer, but once you get past Jack.... Another critical issue is about making women feel comfortable -- from the store hygiene to helping get the purchase to the trunk of the car. Men buy for themselves -- women buy as hosts.