50% of Shoppers Still in Back-to-School Mode
From “gaming chairs” and kegerators to Pokémon backpacks and Transformers, half of parents are still filling back-to-school wish lists for offspring from college to elementary school students. Here’s how retailers can get in on the biggest online back-to-school season ever.
Retailers who are surprised by the back-to-school statistics can take a look at that 50 percent in mid-August figure in Rakuten Marketing’s “Back-to-School 2016 Mid-Season Report.” The chilled beer and Pokemon statistics are courtesy of Hitwise, a division of Connexity.
“The 2016 back to school season will be bigger than ever based on visits to the Hitwise Retail 500, a collection of the top online shopping sites,” Hitwise tells Target Marketing on Wednesday. “Visits were up 2.6 percent during the four weeks ending Aug. 13, … vs. the same period a year ago. That equates to approximately 100 million more online shopping visits this back-to-school season, so far.”
Rakuten told Target Marketing on Wednesday that now, “Parents are prioritizing school-required items, and want a good price five times more than brand names.”
Plus, while retailers invested heavily in social media marketing, that’s having the least influence on buying decisions, the report says. (At the same time, it may be another instance of behavior not matching survey answers, because desktop sales are down 9 percent and mobile — where consumers tend to view social accounts — sales are up. Dads are 22 percent more likely to buy on mobile than moms.)
Here’s what marketers can do to sell more during the remainder of August:
Figure Out What Kids Want
About 59 percent of shoppers say they’ll buy what their children want, and their children want to look cool, according to an infographic from The Shelf.
Target seems to get it, speaking to kids directly.
“This year,” writes Kasee Bailey on Aug. 10 for bluehost.com, “the brand focused its efforts on a kid-centric campaign, featuring TV commercials that were written, designed and directed by youth. [Target is] also jumping on the crowdsourcing bandwagon with kids at the helm, offering to fund up to $5 million of kid-proposed education projects in schools.”
With The Shelf saying clothing, shoes and backpacks being top sellers, we defer to Hitwise for the “cool” and popular factor in school supplies.
Hitwise research shows:
- Pokémon backpacks rose 966 spots in search engine rankings this year;
- Emoji backpacks are for the more mature middle- and high-school set, rising 480 slots in search rankings YOY; and
- Kanye West will let college students finish their Internet searches, because they’ve boosted his “Yeezy” sneaker rankings 1,228 places.
Find Influencers and Motivate Them
As Hitwise notes, college students are a huge part of the back-to-school crowd. A Rubicon Project survey finds parents of incoming freshmen alone “spend on average $1,378 on their child’s back-to-school shopping. This number almost doubles the $684 K-12 parents will spend.”
So, as Bailey notes, retailers who motivate college students can exponentially increase the effectiveness of their efforts.
“JCPenney … harnessed the power of social media influencers to showcase its ideas for dorm life on specially created Instagram accounts,” reads the bluehost.com post, “addressing everything from dorm food and organizational how-tos to study tips.”
Marketers without a seasonal stake in the back-to-school market can newsjack the moment, but only if they’re helpful. Bailey writes about how Sonic asked students to comment on their Facebook page, asking for 10-word summaries of their summer reading list books that they hadn’t yet read. The brand shot back pithy responses about literature ranging from “Moby Dick” to “The Giver.”
What do you think, marketers?
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