Saturday, November 23, 2013

Highlight: Bargain Fever: Our Obsession With Getting More for Less by Mark Ellwood


A spirited investigation into the phenomenon of bargain hunting, now bigger than ever.

When Coca-Cola offered the first retail coupon in the 1880s customers were thrilled. But today's shoppers, plugged into Gilt Groupe, RueLaLa, and Living Social, see sales and discounts as the norm, not the exception. The relentless pursuit of deals has totally changed the relationship between buyers and sellers.

In this playful, well-researched book, journalist Mark Ellwood takes readers deep into the discount game, both high end and low. From the haggling markets of Istanbul to Black Friday in a suburban mall, to pinnacles of global luxury such as Herm├Ęs and Louis Vuitton, companies and consumers are engaged in a constant game of cat and mouse. Some companies now change their prices literally second by second. Consumers, for their part, turn to coupon apps and strategic Twitter analysis to find great bargains.

Today's unorthodox tactics range from “secret” sales for frequent shoppers to brands going so far as to destroy unsold merchandise rather than slash prices. Ellwood offers fascinating insights into the twisted economy of bargain hunting, with more than a few shopping tips for readers.

Mark  EllwoodAbout the author:  British-born, New York-based Mark Ellwood has lived out of a suitcase for most of his life.

After studying for an undergraduate degree in English Literature at Cambridge University in England and a Masters on a scholarship to the University of Chicago, he spent several years as a tour director leading art tours around cities like Florence, Rome and Paris. After college, Mark moved to New York to become a print and broadcast journalist, specializing in luxury goods: travel, fashion and contemporary art.

He has written regularly for the Financial Times Weekend and How To Spend It Magazine, T: New York Times style magazine, Wall Street Journal Weekend, Bloomberg Business Week and Departures among others. He has interviewed the world's oldest supermodel (she's 75 and counting), trekked to a $10bn art island in rural Japan that looked like a Bond villain's lair (he brought his own white cat) spent a weekend in an all-psychic town (and yes, they did know he was coming because he called) and confirmed where & when men first slipped into a speedo (Sydney, 1961).

Ellwood's new book Bargain Fever: How to Shop in a Discounted World will be published by Penguin-Portfolio on October 17 2013. In this book, he examines our culture's newfound obsession with deals, discounts and never paying full price (like the unadvertised discount savvy shoppers can wrestle out of Prada staff with a few choice words or the woman who earns more than a $1m a year reselling coupons).

As a host and producer, Ellwood was one of the longtime onscreen talents for luxury network Plum TV. He hosted Plum's first ever travel show, Local Currency: Mark hopscotches around Europe learning from residents of cities like Amsterdam and Vienna what it takes to pass for a local and then testing out the tips first hand with a hidden camera chronicling every one of his bungled mistakes. As a correspondent for the weekly lifestyle show Plum Daily in its key markets from Miami Beach and Aspen to the Hamptons, he wrangled interviews with everyone from Calvin Klein and Alison Janney to Russell Simmons and Mario Batali. Ellwood learned how to play croquet from a pro (yes, they exist) and spent a Thursday evening at the Manhattan offices of some upscale dermatologists who cater to last minute gala-goers in need of pre-Hamptons Botox and fillers. Mark also hosted and produced live special coverage of splashy events from Art Basel Miami Beach to Aspen's Food + Wine festival.

Favorite assignments have included hitting the nightclubs of Maputo in Mozambique with Europe's twentysomething jetset, watching the cowboy poets of Wyoming rap by the campfire, and judging the finer points of vodka-swigging at the cocktail set's answer to Miss World in New Zealand. He's also spent a weekend trawling through the menswear stores of Tokyo trying to find something large enough to fit.

There was a lot of great information in this book regarding Groupon, hotels and travel discounts.  There is a new wave a savers and the craze has created almost a whole new sector of the population.  This book gives the history and information in a well researched book about bargain fever.   The book, at times, was slow to me....I ended up skimming through some parts. 

I thought this would be a how-to book, but it turned out to be more about the craze of bargain fever and not a go to guide on saving big.   I found it interesting however....with the craze producing shows, websites and the such.  Worth the read for the die hard shopper 3.0 stars.

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