To Buy or Not To Buy

Why we overshop and how to stop.

Kick Yourself If Need Be…Don’t Use Shopkick!

Don't use Shopkick!

Yet another inviting technological marketing ploy has emerged this season—just in time for holiday shopping. Shopkick, a new, free smartphone app, offers reward points for simply checking into stores, more points for scanning products, and still more points for buying. The points can be redeemed for gift cards at participating merchants—presently, Macy’s, American Eagle Outfitters, Best Buy, Sports Authority, and Simon Malls—or for music downloads, donations to causes, and selected merchandise. Shopkick learns your buying habits and can then offer you tailored special promotions right on the spot.

Presently, the app is operating in four major U.S. markets: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago. Whether it expands, and how quickly, will depend on how successful it is at achieving its goals of driving foot traffic and promoting sales. Overshoppers should be thoroughly wary of this new enticement to shop. Research has shown convincingly that the more time you spend in stores, the more likely you are to overbuy, so even the chaste intention of chalking up points “just for entering” stores is bound to give way to the lure of holiday sales. And even if it didn’t, an increased focus on shopping—the goal of Shopkick—is precisely what an overshopper doesn’t need. Pass up this flashy new siren of an app and you’ll help yourself stay conscious about your shopping.

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April Lane Benson, Ph.D., is the author of To Buy or Not to Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop. She specializes in the treatment of compulsive buying disorder.

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