New insights for tapping huge back-to-college spend trend

New research from intelligent media delivery firm Valassis aims to help retailers determine how and where to influence shoppers this back-to-school season. The company’s new study particularly focuses on college students as they prepare to head back to campus, revealing shopper tendencies across electronics, apparel and furniture purchases.

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Over the next few weeks, retailers will target students and their parents to capitalize on the back-to-school shopping season, which by one estimate, is expected to garner more than $83.6 billion in sales—a 10 percent increase over 2016 with college shopping projected to hit an all-time high. Additionally, with RetailMeNot reporting that 85 percent of marketers plan to invest more in their back-to-school efforts this year, it is critical for retailers to understand where consumers shop and how they make purchase decisions across key verticals if they want to come out on top.

“Back-to-school shopping is incredibly competitive, as consumers carefully compare and contrast items online and in-store to ensure they are securing the best possible deals,” said Curtis Tingle, chief marketing officer at Valassis, in a news release. “With this in mind, it’s important for retailers to leverage data to understand what drives shoppers to make a purchase, where they are shopping and why. Our research underscores the importance of taking a consumer-centric approach for retailers to win this back-to-school season.”

Shopping for electronics

Forty-one percent of consumers make their purchase decisions at home before shopping, with 21 percent doing so while in-store and 17 percent while shopping online.

Thirteen percent of shoppers are influenced to buy a brand they normally wouldn’t due to promotions/sales in-store, with 11 percent being persuaded by mobile discounts received on-the-go or near a store.

When looking at what’s most important when deciding where to shop:

  • 24 percent focus on price;
  • 15 percent prefer to shop online; and
  • 12 percent focus on promotions/sales.

When do you make most of your electronics purchase decisions?

New insights for tapping huge back-to-college spend trend

Shopping for apparel

Forty-three percent make their purchase decisions in-store, with over a quarter of consumers saying they make these decisions at home. This percentage rises when it comes specifically to moms, with 55 percent doing so.

Sixteen percent of shoppers are influenced to buy a brand they normally wouldn’t, due to promotions/sales in-store, with 13 percent being persuaded by TV advertisements.

Thirty-nine percent of employed respondents say they would visit stores near work more often if they received coupons from those stores.

When do you make most of your apparel purchase decisions?

New insights for tapping huge back-to-college spend trend

Shopping for furniture

Thirty-four percent of consumers make their purchase decisions at home before shopping, with 30 percent doing so in-store.

Price is the most important factor for consumers when deciding where to shop (25 percent), with promotions/sales being the secondary influencer (11 percent).

When it comes to in-store signage/display spurring consumers to buy a brand or product they normally wouldn’t, 21 percent of Hispanic customers say it’s a major influence, with 20 percent of dads and 19 percent of millennials sharing the same sentiment.

When do you make most of your furniture purchase decisions?

New insights for tapping huge back-to-college spend trend

The Valassis Coupon Intelligence Study was fielded in the third quarter of 2016 in conjunction with a global, third-party market research firm with proficiency in internet surveys. The sample was derived from an online consumer opinion panel and all participants were at least 18 years of age and living in the contiguous United States. Consumers were emailed an invitation to participate in the survey and were given three days to complete it. The survey was closed once 1,000 completed responses had been reached. The responses were weighted by factors obtained from national census data to provide appropriate representations of demographic groups at summary levels.


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