Get an A+ on your back-to-school shopping campaigns this year
Most kids will be going back, full-time, to physical classrooms worldwide and leaving behind their virtual educations. With this return to their regular academic routine, they will need to do some back-to-school shopping and that’s great news for marketers. But while the pre-pandemic back-to-school (BTS) shopping behaviors may return, there will be some key differences.
The world is experiencing macro-economic and geo-political disruptions causing consumers to rethink what they are buying. We found that about nine in ten consumers across the globe are looking to reduce their discretionary spending and putting more of their money towards essential supplies and increasing the cost of living expenses. High retail inflation globally will force 34% of parents across North America and Europe to spend more on back-to-school shopping this year. Let’s explore the reasons why.
Inflation is altering spending by parents
Household budgets are not going as far as they used to and parents are getting creative. Some people are cutting discretionary spending while others are in search of budget-friendly alternatives. Parents are at the forefront of this need-only / price-first shopping experience and it’s expected that these behaviors will continue for back-to-school purchases.
According to a recent consumer survey, a higher percentage of parents are expected to spend more than $250 during the BTS season, which shows the effect of high retail inflation. Three in four parents are also open to looking at alternate brands and different shopping platforms. This is because they are looking for a great deal, but it puts more stress on brand loyalty. What can marketers do? Increased online research will offer marketers the chance to model consumer intent and reach them with the right messaging at the right time.
Hybrid shopping behaviors are staying put
Over the last two years, online shopping surged beyond traditional demographic, geographical, and socio-economic groups. Inventory challenges, comfort and safety of shopping from your couch, and the growing tendency to explore alternatives drove the interest for online shopping beyond the traditional product categories. While shopping in person has slowly returned, online shopping habits picked up during the pandemic aren’t going away.
While parents might stock up on snacks and drinks from the local grocery stores, online shopping platforms might be where they buy school supplies. The jury is split when considering purchases for apparel and electronics.
Why are parents buying more online? Competitive pricing and discounts, variety and availability and quick delivery top the list. Online shopping platforms are where parents do research. We found that three in five parents almost always do pre-purchase research. Other trends that will be part of BTS shopping this year are click and collect, research online – buy offline.
Digging into research
Consumer shopping and media habits have changed over the past 18-24 months. And this means a brand’s pre-pandemic understanding of consumers is being challenged. How can you draw consumer attention? A new media mix, creative format or elements? Audience discovery and the optimized media mix have become more complex.
It’s not bad news, in fact, eight to ten consumers globally are regularly doing more online and offline research. This gives brands the chance to identify and model intent to reach existing consumers while finding new audience segments they hadn’t considered before.
People are using two to three devices and platforms before actually buying anything, which means brands should connect their media initiatives to track and research consumer journeys more effectively. Offering personalized messaging through high-impact creative formats based on consumer interest is also a great way for brands to stand out and draw attention.
Summer sales are coming really soon and we found that eight in ten parents haven’t started their BTS shopping. This might be the perfect time for brands to refocus their marketing efforts to reach this group of consumers.
Get ready for back-to-school shopping success
- Identify your audience – Using the wealth of behavioral and contextual data signals available to your media partners, brands must figure out their target audience segment while also discovering incremental audiences they couldn’t access in the past.
- Building omnichannel strategies – Brands and marketers must make an effort to look to connect their fragmented cross-channel media plans to build holistic omnichannel activation to boost the ROI from your marketing initiatives.
- Measuring the right outcomes – It’s time to move beyond the traditional marketing KPIs and connect campaign activations with more relevant business goals to evaluate impact. It’s a great idea to have indicative measurements across different stages of the funnel.
- Planning for the cookieless future – This might be the final call for marketers to test and compare their cookieless strategies against the cookie-based initiative. With so many cookieless solutions available for marketers to experiment with, brands need to figure out the optimal approach for themselves to be better positioned for when the third-party cookies are finally taken back.
We have a lot more research for you about changing consumer behaviors and media consumption habits in our latest shopping report here.