Did you know Back to Class shoppers spend more per household on items for the upcoming school year than consumers spend on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day combined? The annual Back to Class season is a major opportunity for retailers to capture a sizable share of consumer’s wallets. Let’s take a look at the Back to Class trends, broken down by Back to School (BTS) and Back to College (BTC).
Timing is Everything: When do Consumers in Mspark Geography Start Back to Class Shopping?
The key to success is to start advertising early to capitalize on shoppers who like to be ahead of the game. For many families and students, the Back to School and Back to College shopping season starts well before the first day of class. You may be surprised to learn that many of these shoppers – 24% of BTS and 25% of BTC shoppers – begin shopping at least two months before school starts. Planning ahead, 53% of BTS and 41% of BTC shoppers plan on shopping 3 weeks to 1 month before school starts.
For households in our geography, we can see that 49% of rural households with kids in elementary through high school indicated they plan to start shopping for BTS three weeks to one month before school starts. They are, however, 3% more likely than their urban counterparts to plan on waiting until one to two weeks before the start of school. Retailers should make sure their promotions start early, but are still applicable to late BTS shoppers, especially those in rural areas.
What about BTC shoppers? Looking at the chart above, most rural BTC shoppers will start shopping around a month or later before the start of school. However, 29% will begin as early as two months before. Retailers should be appealing to these consumers early.
Why Do Shoppers in Mspark’s Geography Start Early?
In a monthly consumer survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, 70% indicated that spreading out their BTS budget was the primary reason. This is 9% higher than BTS shoppers in urban areas. 32% said they wanted to make sure the items they wanted were not picked over.
65% of rural BTC shoppers indicated they planned to shop early in order to spread out their budget, an 18% difference from their urban counterparts. 51% indicated it was because prices and promotions were too good to pass up. Rural BTC shoppers are motivated by deals. The earlier the deal, the better. Retailers should be keeping these shoppers on their mailing radar.
What Are Shoppers Buying and Where?
Now that you know the trends around Back to Class shopping timelines, let’s look at the 2018 top categories of BTS and BTC household spend, and where they plan to shop:
While apparel and electronics are still the biggest budget items on BTS shopper’s lists, households are spending more than ever on purchases like shoes and supplies.
As for BTC shoppers, 64% of college freshmen surveyed plan to stock up on new electronics like laptops, TVs, and gaming consoles before heading off to school. By far, the biggest planned spend for rural BTC shoppers was a new laptop. 61% planned to purchase one, 3.4% higher than their urban counterparts. Rural BTC shoppers will likely be looking for the best deal on laptops they’ve researched, and are more motivated to shop either at department stores or online for BTC compared to their urban counterparts.
Creating an Effective Marketing Mix For Back to Class Shoppers
Because Mspark engages younger consumers, Back to Class shoppers and consumers in Mspark’s geography are a perfect match for your offers and promotions.
Compared to their urban counterparts, rural households with kids tend to have younger-aged children. Of those surveyed, 55% of rural households with kids said they have kids in elementary school, 35.5% in middle school, 37% in high school. Target these rural households to build repeat business as children progress through school.
Let’s Compare the Back to School Shopper with Today’s Newspaper Reader
If you want to promote your business’ Back to Class sales, you cannot rely on the newspaper in rural markets. The median age of newspaper readers is 61, 24 years older than the average BTS shopper, and only 21% of newspaper readers report having children at home. Furthermore, as overall newspaper readership continues to decline, the newspaper is not the most cost-effective or reliable way to reach consumers. In order to have a successful marketing mix, we recommend that you send them your message in a medium that has a much higher readership and ROI with shared direct mail. 80% of all households read direct mail – that’s 8 out of 10 households! Rural consumers are also 56% more influenced by direct mail than they are by newspaper.
What Media Drives and Influences the Rural Back to Class Shopper?
Looking at the chart above, we can tell rural consumers rely heavily on deals to save money on Back to Class shopping. 39% of rural consumers report coupons most influence their Back to Class shopping. 36% of rural consumers report in-store promotion as the next largest influence on their shopping. Consumers are not only looking for your coupons, they are using them to make decisions on where to shop.
Print is a Key Driver for Back to Class Store Traffic and Sales
Mspark’s shared mail package is delivered directly to the consumer’s mailbox, giving them a tangible printed reminder of your BTS/BTC offer. 75% of rural shoppers choose a retailer based on available promotions or sales, so utilize shared direct mail to deliver your Back to Class promotions to this highly engaged audience.
Want to drive Back to Class traffic and revenue to your business? Make sure your business is in mailboxes on June 25th, July 30th, and August 27th. Don’t miss your opportunity to capture Back to Class wallet share! Give us a call or fill out the form, and then it’s as easy as 1-2-3:
Our knowledgeable direct mail team will help you:
- Select your mailing profile.
- Choose your piece type and select your creative & coupons.
- Watch your traffic grow!
For even more Back to Class advertising trends and a retail success story, please download our eBook.
Advertising Readership & Response Tracking Study, TNS Custom Studies
NRF’s Annual Consumer Spending Surveys, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics
Prosper Consumer Survey Jan 2017; Simmons NCS Spring 2017
Prosper Insights & Analytics, Monthly Consumer Survey 2018
Prosper Insight & Analytics 2017
Prosper Insights & Analytics 2018
Response Rate Report 2017, Data & Marketing Association, Connecting for Action – Canada Post Neuroscience Report
2k18 Valassis Coupon Intelligence Report
2018 NRF Back to School/College Spending Survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics