Back-to-school is the second largest consumer spending season for retailers, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF)—consumer spend is projected at $82.8 billion on back-to-school and back-to-college shopping in 2018, or $27.5 billion and $55.3 billion respectively. New research from intelligent media delivery firm Valassis offers insights to help retailers capture critical consumer spend.
Back-to-school shopping begins early—approximately one in four consumers planned to shop at least two months before school starts, with 53 percent of back-to-college shoppers beginning three weeks to one month in advance of the semester. According to a survey from RetailMeNot, 84 percent of retailers believe back-to-school shopping began on or before Amazon Prime Day 2018, and 60 percent were planning to run promotional offerings that targeted shoppers before Prime Day.
Retailers can get ahead of back-to-school and back-to-college shopping by engaging with consumers—especially parents—when and where they shop. According to Valassis’ Capturing the Dynamic Retail Shopper: Parent Snap insight report, parents are more likely than all consumers to research and plan for every purchase across shopping categories, which is especially helpful for retailers to keep in mind during back-to-school season. These categories include apparel (53 percent versus 43 percent of all consumers); electronics (67 percent versus 58 percent); furniture (74 percent versus 65 percent); and housewares (64 percent versus 52 percent).
The research also found that while “at home” is the number one place for planning purchases, parents are also more likely to plan at work and on-the-go: 34 percent of parents will plan less expensive furniture/ mattress purchases at work (vs. 24 percent of all consumers) and 30 percent will do so on-the-go (vs. 21 percent of all consumers).
In addition, Valassis’ Building Loyalty with Dynamic Shoppers research reveals consumers can be swayed by advertised promotions and sales, especially parents and millennial parents (83 percent and 82 percent, respectively, compared to 73 percent of all consumers). This is supported by The NPD Group’s research, which reveals that 72 percent of consumers only bought items that were on sale or discount during the 2017 back-to-school season.
“It is critical for retailers to be promotionally aggressive so they don’t lose ground in what is expected to be a highly competitive back-to-school season,” said Curtis Tingle, Valassis CMO, in a news release. “Savings will be top of mind for back-to-school shoppers this year, and brands will need to start early in order to capture back-to-school spend, especially around Amazon Prime Day. As we’ve seen in previous years and in recent data from RetailMeNot, Amazon Prime Day is expected to rise the tide for all retailers—not just Amazon—and brands should leverage savings opportunities and targeted messaging to activate consumers.”
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