Whatever the case, the authors bring solid credentials to their forecast of the coming retail landscape, and they provide...

THE NEW RULES OF RETAIL

COMPETING IN THE WORLD'S TOUGHEST MARKETPLACE

The mall is dead. Long live…well, a different mall.

Retail consultants and strategists Lewis and Dart chart three periods of commercial history. The first was an era of pent-up real demand; the second featured abundance and the generation of wants made into needs; the third—well, whatever it is we’re living in now, when “consumers have grown accustomed to an instantaneous and unlimited selection of virtually anything they might dream of.” The problem for retailers is that our collective tastes have changed. Spoiled rotten, we demand “experience” when we shop, so that a visit to Trader Joe’s or Victoria’s Secret—take your pick—becomes a pampering of the senses as much as an opportunity to stock up on pot stickers or bras. Some retailers are not equipped to handle the rigors of what the authors call “experiential superiority,” to say nothing of “superior value-chain control.” At some unspecified point in the near future, Lewis and Dart predict that half of retailers and brands are going to disappear, to be replaced by companies that have somehow engineered their way around the “traditional retail/wholesale business model.” Writing with numerous bulleted lists, the authors outline the qualities and characteristics that they believe the winners in this Darwinian struggle will share—and, it would seem, many of those winners will be Chinese. Some of their conclusions seem very well backed by solid evidence; on the last point, for instance, they point to one Chinese apparel maker’s recent acquisition of 16 American brands. Other conclusions seem more speculative. If rats are drenched in dopamine while exploring new sections of the maze, does that really translate to humans taking great pleasure in finding a new store—particularly when “future consumers are going to be ‘wired,’ but only to what they choose to be wired to”?

Whatever the case, the authors bring solid credentials to their forecast of the coming retail landscape, and they provide plenty of interesting material for readers on both sides of the cash register.

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-230-10572-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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