Using technology to shop better

Kit's Favorite Takeaways From Gen BuY


Gen Y's profound influence on what their entire family buys, from their mother's wardrobe to family vacations. For example, Gen BuY teens influence half of auto purchases and 90% of apparel purchases in their homes.

Why Gen Y buys and shops more than previous generations. Examples include the importance of appearance in an increasingly visual society, the necessity of technology and more integration of shopping venues into their social life.

2009 Back-to-School and Off-to-College - all the latest on what retailers are doing and why it works. For example - an explosion of 2.0 tie-ins, ad themes with the subtext that purchasers will be stars or models (rather than just admired or popular) and contests.

How Gen Y shops differently than other generations. Among the many examples: anywhere and all the time with help of smart phones, balancing "easily bored and craving new" with environmentalism, and in groups both in stores and online.

Here are Kit's Top Five Tips for shopping better by shopping like a Gen Yer:

  1. Turn on, Tune in and Opt Out. In other words - get control of your online relationships with retailers and brands.

    Become an insider with the retailers and brands that you love: sign up for their Twitters, become a "fan" on their Facebook pages, opt-in for emails, and visit their websites. You can be the first to find out sales, get exclusive coupons and special offers, and find out when new products will be available.

    Manage these connections so that you're also opting-out of emails and contact from unsatisfying merchants. Only sign up for emails from the merchant you like, never agree to get special offers from their "friends." Be selective. Because once you get flooded or overwhelmed with information you're likely to stop using these services altogether.

  2. Harvest the research capabilities of the Internet to find the best prices.

    Let price comparison sites do the work for you. You can get lists of online prices for particular products across the web, along with links to those sites.

    These sites work best if you already know the exact brand and product that you want and are only looking for the best price. Don't forget to calculate shipping costs and tax, and be sure to check consumer satisfaction ratings for the product websites you're considering. Try: BizRate, NexTag, Shopzilla or PriceGrabber.

    For fashion, you can compare prices and shop by both category and brand on fashion sites like ShopStyle. Travel comparison sites like Kayak, Orbitz and Travelocity are great time savers.

    Additional savings can often be found by visiting coupon websites like Coupon and Retailmenot. Fatwallet has coupons, comparisons and special deals.

  3. Harness the unbiased opinions of others - but do it wisely.

    Try Yelp and Angie's List for local services.

    Visit several retail websites to get even more reviews if you're really uncertain about a product you're considering.

    To gauge the accuracy of a review, check the number of customer reviewers before you're sure you've picked a winner. Be wary of the accuracy of a review if it only has handful of reviewers. Merchants have been known to rate their own products and trash their competitors'. Check how many other products a reviewer rated to verify the reviewer's authenticity.

    Check the age or demographics of reviewers, particularly for health and beauty products. For example, skincare products that work well on a 50 year-old woman may not do the trick with teens and vice versa.

  4. Go Mobile.

    Your smart phone can alert you to nearby sales while you're shopping. I-Phone application, Yowza, for example, uses your phone's GPS to find coupons and sales in the area you're shopping.

    On-the go price comparison tools like check nearby stores and online prices for better deals when you're considering a purchase in a store.

    Mobile coupons can be downloaded to your phone from home and redeemed in stores. For example, from Cellfire you can load coupons onto your Safeway Club Card or Sears coupons onto your cell phone.

    There are Smart phone applications for easy on-the-go calculations. For example, try ishopsmart for unit price comparisons, TipCaluclator for figuring out tips and who owes what, and iTax, which calculates the final tax-included cost of the products you're considering using GPS for the correct tax in any area.

  5. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

    Craigslist and eBay are beloved by Gen Yers who get bored more easily than older generations and want more product turnover in their lives, but also want to save money and reduce waste.

About Kit Yarrow:
Kit Yarrow is an award-winning consumer research psychologist and a professor of psychology and marketing at Golden Gate University. She is co-author or Gen BuY: How Tweens, Teens and Twenty-Somethings are Revolutionizing Retail. Visit for more information about the psychology and shopping habits of Generation Y, those born between 1978 and 2000.
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