Unanswered Questions Into New Revealed

Unanswered Questions Into New Revealed

Some Gen Yers loathe brand names that others in their cohort love. Some like thrift-store finds to call brand names. They surveyed 2,000 Americans, conducted 11 focus groups, spoke with hundreds of Gen Yers, spoke with retail executives and invested lots of time in shopping malls.

They discovered that Gen Y not just decides what they'll use but often exactly what their moms and dads and grandparents will wear. The authors cite a Denver high school senior who persuaded her 70-year-old granny to get Uggs and her 93-year-old great-grandmother to go shopping at Chico's while teaching her 50-year-old mom to text photos so they might "keep each other in the retail loop.".

Says General Motors' sales and marketing chief Mark LaNeve, "More youthful individuals teach us what's cool." Among the book's most intriguing findings is the "gaplet" between Gen Yers over 20 and under 20, makings it tough for retailers to aim messages at the entire group.

Numerous older Gen Y members grew up without iPods or computers in their bed rooms and went shopping within limits as teens. By contrast, most of today's teenagers have cellphones (what the authors call "their third hand") and high-speed Web connections. The word "economic crisis" isn't in their vocabulary.

"My more youthful sister is way more into stuff than I was," states Regina, 25, of San Francisco. "She not just desires more, she's a lot more specific about exactly what she desires. I see young kids with $300 jeans and Coach bags.".

Current sales figures, nevertheless, recommend that even Gen Y is feeling the economic pinch. Sales for 4 of the five favorite tween woman brands (Abercrombie, American Eagle, Hollister and Target) fell in August vs. a year back. Just Aeropostale saw sales increase. Experts attribute that bump to the chain lowering rates. The authors state Aeropostale's success is partially due to having dressing spaces in the center of stores, letting Gen Y customers be the center of interest. To paraphrase Freud, what does Gen Y desire?