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PopSugar Media Releases New Marketing Study on Gen Y Women's Influence on Lifestyle Trends and How Technology Has Expanded Their Sphere of Influence

"Why Y Women" Report Also Examines Generational Differences Between Gen X and Y Women

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- (Marketwire) -- 10/29/09 -- A new research report released today by PopSugar Media (www.popsugar.com) revealed that two-thirds of Generation X women chose Generation Y women as the most influential age group when it comes to defining trends in popular culture. Gen Y women, in turn, are discovering new brands and getting most of their style inspiration and product recommendations from blogs and social media.

The report, "Why Y Women," is a two-tier study of 1,018 women ages 18-49 conducted by Radar Research on behalf of PopSugar Media, which examines Gen Y women's sphere of influence of lifestyle trends, how technology and social media help them expand their sphere of influence, and how marketers can target and communicate with this group. PopSugar Media is the online leader in original content and social media for trendsetting Y women.

"Gen Y women represent a challenge to marketers. The results of this study underscore how much marketers must think and act differently when addressing this generation of women online. It shows they want to be addressed as individuals, they can be skeptical of marketing messages, and they are inundated by media and advertising," said Brian Sugar, founder and CEO of Sugar, Inc. "As this study and our experience proves, it's crucial for brands to create a trusted relationship and earn their loyalty through honest dialogue about their brand. Once they have a personal connection to a brand, Gen Y women will be passionate advocates and ambassadors. Our goal has been to work closely with brands to help facilitate that relationship."

Why Y Women?

Gen Y women are a major force in determining cultural trends and setting the pace for style. The "Why Y Women" survey found that 92 percent of Gen Y women consider themselves to be the trend leaders. Yet their influence extends beyond that as 67 percent of Gen X women identified Gen Y as trend leaders, too. In the survey, Gen X women cited reasons such as, "This age group tends to discover things first," "They spend more time in venues where they are more likely to be seen" and "They're more creative in terms of selection in fashion, pop culture, cuisine, etc."

Gen Y women are also influential brand advocates. When they discover a brand they love, 61 percent said they "share it with as many friends as possible," and they are likely to share it across a spectrum of platforms, including email, social networks, online reviews, blog comments, SMS/MMS, phone, and face-to-face. They are twice as likely to use online social networking sites to share their recommendations than Gen X women (28 percent vs. 15 percent).

Gen Y women are more brand loyal than many may assume. The research found that Gen Y and Gen X on virtually on par in this area (79 percent vs. 84 percent), though the level of brand loyalty varied by category.

Gen Y Women Redefine "Authenticity" and Widen Their Sphere of Influence Through Technology

Gen Y women acknowledge that, with technology, they have more choices available to them than previous generations. The study's participants believe the infinite numbers of choices they have are both empowering as well as confusing. To break through the clutter, they rely heavily on "authentic" recommendations of their peers for product referrals, brand suggestions, and style cues.

While Gen Y women tend to be skeptical of obvious marketing messages, they do respond to brands and messages they perceive to be "authentic." One of the study's significant findings is how Gen Y women have redefined "authentic." While Gen X women tend to seek insight and brand approval from "experts," Gen Y women rely more heavily on their peers because they believe their advice about brands to be more unbiased and honest. For example, Gen Y women are more likely to turn to online user reviews, with almost two in five women (38 percent) trusting the postings of online users to learn more about a product or brand. Gen Y women tend to be slightly more skeptical of professional reviewers and need to be reassured the reviewer doesn't have a stake in the results of the review.

How Gen Y women define their peer group is a significant change from previous generations. It not only includes their "real-life" friends but also online friends, blog writers, anonymous reviewers, Twitter followers, and other participants in online communities -- many whom they may have never met. As a result, this generation has a wider network of connections than Gen X women.

Blogs and Social Media Are Major Forces of Cultural Influence

Blogs and social media, rather than traditional media, have emerged as key trusted and inspirational sources for Gen Y to discover brands and products. Nearly twice as many Gen Y women than Gen X women said they rely on blogs to influence their decisions to buy a product (28 percent vs. 16 percent). Twice as many Gen Y women than Gen X women reported they discovered a new brand or product from a friend's status update on a social networking site (42 percent vs. 22 percent).

Consumption of new media, such as blogs, reinforce Gen Y women's perception of themselves as more individualistic than earlier generations. They cite blogs as being more accessible, more likely to be honest, on the cutting edge, and more likely to know about trends first. They also believe the "commentor community" on blogs is very important. To them, a healthy commentor community signals approval and trust in a blog. Gen Y women say they often glean new ideas about websites and products from other readers' comments on blogs.

Context Is Vital in Brand Perception and Advertising

Gen Y women are very media savvy and conscious of attempts to market to them. They are not easily swayed to action by advertising, either offline or online. While they aren't likely to click on an online ad, they are influenced by advertising messages and highly aware of brand messages online, such as in online magazines, search engines, blogs, social networking sites, and even ads. When asked if they've ever discovered a new product via an online ad they saw but didn't click on, almost two in five (38 percent) reported they did.

The study's findings demonstrate that context is vital when it comes to brand perception and advertising. The context in which they encounter an ad largely determines their trust in that brand. Their trust in a site translates into trust in an advertiser's brand, particularly for a brand they're less familiar with. Thus, exposure to a brand is more meaningful when it takes place on a website they already trust.

"Context matters a great deal to Gen Y women, so marketers need to be very selective about the sites they advertise on and avoid mass-reach network buys they cannot control," added Sugar. "In addition, Gen Y women rarely click on ads, so using click through as a metric of campaign success simply does not work. In order to win them over, marketers must use multiple digital touch points and offer many opportunities for consumers to engage with their brand. They must reach out to these women in ways that are interactive but nonintrusive, such as contests, games, custom integrated content, and discounts and also offer incentives for their attention."

Methodology

The "Why Y Women" study was conducted by Radar Research in September 2009 on behalf of PopSugar Media. It consisted of an online survey of 1,018 Gen X and Y women, aged 18-49, from a demographically representative sample who all had accessed the Internet at least once a day. For the purposes of this study, Gen X were defined as ages 35-49 and Gen Y were defined as ages 18-34. In addition to the online survey, in-person focus groups were conducted in October 2009. Three sessions were held with four to six Gen Y women each.

To view the "Why Y Women" white paper, go to www.sugarinc.com/WhyYWomen.

About PopSugar Media

PopSugar Media is the online leader in original content and social media for trendsetting Y women. It helps brands connect, engage, and be discovered by this influential generation. PopSugar Media is a division of Sugar Inc.

Sugar Inc. is a new media company that connects, entertains, and inspires women. The company owns and operates insanely addictive PopSugar Network (popsugar.com), the most fabulous online store ShopStyle (shopstyle.com), content management platform for celebrity, fashion, and lifestyle publishers OnSugar (onsugar.com), Sugar Entertainment (popsugar.tv), and Sugar Games (games.popsugar.com). Founded in April 2006 by husband and wife Lisa and Brian Sugar in San Francisco, Sugar Inc. is proud to delight its audience of over 11 million visitors a month. Sugar Inc. is a privately held company backed by world-class investor Sequoia Capital.

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