It’s that time of year! Even as summer swelters, parents and students alike are thinking about school supplies. Early August is actually when the majority of back-to-school shoppers plan to finish purchasing their wish lists, with an estimated $54.1 billion in national retail spending alone according to eMarketer. From clothing and backpacks to dorm decorations, the latest tech to good old-fashioned books, big spending spans the gamut from kindergarten all the way through college.
However, one unifying reality is the shift from in-store to digital purchasing, as traditional in-store sales continue to decline. Deloitte reports that the number of back-to-school shoppers who plan to use traditional department stores fell by 26%, down from 54 to 28% total. But that decrease is balanced by an uptick in shoppers looking to mass merchants, up 24% to 81% overall.
Marketers have to take an omnichannel approach to reach mobile-reliant consumers, thinking digitally to optimize back-to-school campaigns by targeting audiences across social and the open web, driving purchases online and in-store. Dive into the data to learn more about the behavior of today’s students who fall within Generation Z, a demographic rife with digital natives.
The Power of Back-To-College Spend
Big spending happens at the college level. Back-to-college spending more than doubles back-to-school, with $45.8 billion compared to BTS’ $26.8. 2017’s college students are highly focused on digital, with 70% of them looking to buy through digital-only retailers, according to Deloitte.
The Parent [Social] Trap
Parents are more traditional when it comes to school shopping decisions. They are less inclined to shop at digital-only retailers, looking instead to electronics retailers and traditional department stores at a slightly higher number than their children. Although parents are moving towards mass merchants and digital shopping more gradually, they do their research before buying. US mothers use their mobile devices to follow school-provided shopping lists, with a whopping 95% of respondents saying they would use their phones to some degree as early as May.
But not all decisions are based on careful planning. While 73% of Deloitte parents said they did not plan to use social media in the assistance process, we know that brand awareness is driven in the social space. Indecision leaves room for last-minute choices, and that’s where brands can make an impact.