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« A New Paradigm for Sports Venues | Main | The Art & Science of Shopping: Souvenirs »

Goodbye Mirror, Hello Looking Glass

Photo courtesy of Bazaarvoice.

I consider myself to be a trusting person, but when it comes to shopping I apply a high level of scrutiny to every possible transaction. Bottom line: If I'm going to spend my money, I want to make sure I'm getting what I want.

For example, I don’t always trust the opinion of a sales person. The way I see it, to them the whole point of our interaction is to make a sale, so when they tell me I can’t live without green eyeshadow…I have to question it. No matter how accommodating or insightful or friendly that person may be, I constantly remind myself that the sales person is there to get me to buy something.

When it comes to shopping with friends, knowing when to take and give advice is a tightrope act. Don’t get me wrong—I love my friends and often solicit their opinions—but when it comes to getting advice from them about what to buy, they're not always completely forthcoming and we don’t always see eye to eye. Friends by their very nature don’t like to be the ones hurting feelings, and sometimes they’re willing to let me by a pair of jeans that I’m in love with because they don’t want to come out and say that the jeans aren’t flattering. And then there is the simple matter of taste. Some of my friends are up-to-date with the current trends in fashion, while others don’t understand why I would ever want a pair of fluorescent yellow shoes. I don’t choose my friends because they have the exact same taste as me—I choose friends because they are good people. Their politeness or our difference in taste isn’t always helpful in making decisions

That's not to say I don't value advice when it comes to making purchases, but it takes a certain volume of opinions to get my attention. Why seek out one opinion when you have access to a ton of them?

One great feature about social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, blogs) and recommendation-based aggregators (Yelp!, Urbanspoon) is that they take the concept of “strength in numbers” and use it to publish reviews on products or services. These reviews are informed by the site’s millions of users, which to me seems like an adequate sample size. When deciding to purchase a new pair of Marc by Marc Jacobs shoes, I find that it's better to trust the opinions of a group of people who also love platform heels than to let my decision hinge on what one or two close friends (who wouldn’t be caught dead in heels) might recommend.

The "hot or not" websites that were prevalent when I was in college served as a preview for where we are now: a growing online community of people who freely share their opinions. It's quite clear that a generation of the Millennials, which by 2017 will have more spending power than any other generation, are open to sharing their opinions online and tend to trust user generated content (UGC) review sites.

How can UGC be integrated into retail stores beyond just checking in and having people comment on your check-in? I’m thinking it comes down to this: goodbye mirror, hello looking glass. Interactive mirrors—ones that allow us to photograph and email friends an outfit we’re trying on—are already growing in popularity. But what’s next? What about a mirror where people can tweet their thoughts about your outfit or post suggestions? Imagine a personal shopping advice network where the content is user generated, and the immortal question “mirror mirror on the wall, which dress I should wear to the ball?” can finally be answered!

Millennials don't have the privacy barrier that Gen Xers and Boomers have because they've grown up in a world where online sharing is the norm. They are conditioned to take advantage of these networks, and I predict that the Nexters will be even MORE engaged with these types of platforms. Somewhere out there, the Nexter version of Mark Zuckerberg is dreaming up the latest digital revolution right under our noses. And whatever it is, I think it will build on the desire to find new and bold ways to interact with large groups of people.

Lara Marrero
Lara Marrero views shopping as both an art and a science. Her education in marketing and psychology combined with her love of boots, bags, and baubles, arms her with unique insight into retail and ethnographic trends. Working with Gensler’s strategy and design teams, she helps inform the design process through research, trend analysis, and her knowledge of brands and consumer needs. Lara is a senior associate and the marketing manager in the Los Angeles office. You can contact her at lara_marrero@gensler.com.

References (1)

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  • Response
    Response: Galaxyessay
    This is very big place for shopping with friends and family members for all the things needed for the daily life.

Reader Comments (2)

Hi Lara Marrero your writing style is perfect I enjoy your article. I agree with you not only here every body want to make sure what he will get after spend hi money. Thanks for sharing :)
04.4.2015 | Unregistered CommenterLisa
You have beautifully posted the stuff. This is really awesome post i like every word of your post it inspires me very much.
06.27.2015 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Groff

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