Thursday, January 15, 2015

Ever been shopping with kids who have the Gimmes?

If you have kids, you know what I'm talking about.  You go to a store with your child (mine happens to be 6 years old) and as soon as you enter the store you hear: "Can we go to the toy section?"

So you negotiate with your child, agreeing that you'll head over to the toy section after you pick up things you actually came to buy, you know, like soap, toilet paper, laundry detergent, cereal.  You make up a game where your child gets to keep track of things on the list to keep him distracted, and maybe you even let him pick up something at the front of the store to "play with while in the store but not buy."  You pick up all the essentials (no time to just browse), and head over to the toy section.

Your child, who knows he's only supposed to browse, is not going to actually buy anything, just wants to look... suddenly turns into "The Gimme Monster":  "Can we buy it? Please?! Why not? But I want it! Please? It's not fair.  We never get to buy anything."  Sound familiar?

Chances are, you've tried one or more of these strategies (I know I have!):

He's getting greedy, I'm just going to say no and we're going to leave.  There will probably be a tantrum and tears, but he needs to learn his lesson.

I don't have time for this, I'll just let him pick something small and deal with it later.

This is a teachable moment.  I'll tell him how lucky he is to have what he already has, and explain that there are other kids in the world who aren't as lucky as him, so he should be happy with what he has.

These all work to some extent, but my favourite secret weapon is using the Smoopa app while shopping with him.  Here's how it goes down:
  1. Your kid identifies something that he really really wants
  2. You tell your kid that you need to check to see if it's a good price
  3. You pull up the Smoopa app on your smartphone, scan the barcode, enter the price at the store and get a recommendation:

Next, you do this:
  • If it's too expensive you explain, "This is kind of expensive. It's been cheaper in the past" and you set a price alert to get notified when the price drops to your desired price. RESULT: You teach your child about price consciousness and delayed gratification.
  • If it's a good price but you don't want to buy it you say, "It's a good price, but you don't really need it right now.  How about we add it to your birthday list?" and then add it to a collection in Smoopa. RESULT: You teach your child it's ok to want things, but there needs to be a special occasion.  You can even share the Smoopa collection with family and friends when the special occasion comes around so they know what he'll like.
  • If you receive an offer from Smoopa, it means you've discovered a good deal and Smoopa is rewarding you for that.  You might actually want to buy the item but put it in a prize box for your child to earn as a reward. RESULT: You earn a little cash back!
Of course, there's a good chance that your child wants to buy something you really really don't want him to have.  If reasoning with him doesn't work, you can add to it a special collection with a code name, so you can say that you've added it to a list.  Chances are he'll have forgotten about it by the time his birthday comes around anyway!

- Archana Sehgal, Head of User Experience at Smoopa, currently collecting to Toys Stash list


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