retail anthropology
(REE.tail an.thruh.POL.uh.jee) n. The principles and practices of anthropology applied to retail spaces and operations.

Example Citation:
So-called retail anthropology now regularly maps the most arcane patterns of consumer behavior: which aisle number in a store seems the most alluring; what kind of overhead lighting and piped-in music is conducive to purchasing; what gimmicks lure shoppers into the most lucrative parts of the store, a fabled area known to marketers as Zone 4. Before long, the ways of the American shopper will be as codified and demystified as those of a Yanomami tribesman.
—Lawrence Osborne, "Consuming Rituals of the Suburban Tribe," The New York Times, January 13, 2002

Earliest Citation:
Soon, however, it dawned on Paco [Underhill] that Whyte's ideas could be taken a step further — that the same techniques he used to establish why a plaza worked or didn't work could also be used to determine why a store worked or didn't work. Thus was born the field of retail anthropology.
—Malcom Gladwell, "The Science of Shopping," The New Yorker, November 4, 1996

What's up with the "Zone 4" reference in the first citation? Retail anthropologists divide a store in various "zones" that refer to physical sections of the store. They correspond roughly to how far away the merchandise in the section is from the store's entrance. The first zone is the Transition Zone (a.k.a., the Decompression Zone) and it refers to the area around the store entrance where customers slow down and orient themselves. From there the first quarter of the store is Zone 1, the second quarter is Zone 2, the third is Zone 3, and the fourth is Zone 4. (These sections can be rectagular or semi-circular, depending on the shape of the retail space.) Retailers want shoppers to penetrate to Zone 4 because it means they see all or most of the store's merchandise. This explains why, for example, grocery stores put staples such as the milk and meat at the back of the store.

A similar phrase that I've seen is retail enthnography:

So the latest trend in the science of psyching out the shopper—a trend propelled by the development of new technology—is "observational research," otherwise known as "retail ethnography."
—Stephanie Simon, "Shopping with Big Brother," Los Angeles Times, May 1, 2002

This one doesn't work, however, since ethnography is the branch of anthropology that studies and describes ethnic groups.

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