The ABC's of Back-to-School Shopping

Back-to-school season can put a lot of pressure on moms to make the grade. There’s purchasing the right clothes, shoes and backpacks. There’s the added stress from “social moms” – you know, the ones who parade their prowess in preparing artful lunches and hand-designed notes for their children. But moms aren’t the only ones feeling the strain: Retail brands are being forced to learn a thing or two from millennial moms who seek an unrivaled brand experience that reaches them whenever, wherever and however they shop.

According to Forbes, more than $75 billion is spent annually on back-to-school products. And for brands that are hungry for a piece of the pie, it’s imperative that they embrace the back-to-school experience in its entirety.

1. Get Social

Clever brands use social media to drive awareness and engage moms in order to make sales. Today’s mom is socially engaged, so brands need to be active on channels like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest (think buyable pins) and Twitter in order to influence her buying decisions. From fun photos and resonant anecdotes to helpful problem solvers and targeted messaging, brands can use social media to effectively market to – and reach – Mom.

2. Mom’s in Control

Successful brands know that moms control back-to-school spending. Moms decide what they need to buy, how much they’re willing to spend and where they’re going to buy it from. Brands need to step up and deliver to mom wherever her purchase is going to happen because moms are controlling the sale, not the brand.

3. Go Mobile

Ninety-two percent of parents use mobile devices during back-to-school shopping, with another 33 percent using mobile devices while making purchases in store, according to The Shelf. It’s estimated that online content influences 36 percent of every dollar spent in-store. This, in turn, creates an opportunity for retail brands to reach Mom with location-based promotion notifications and offer her coupons when she’s actually in the store.

4. Identify Peak Interest

Brands looking to strongly connect with moms need to align their biggest promotions during peak weeks of shopping. School supplies are consistently purchased from July through September. Clothing and fitness apparel increase in July whereas electronics and technology are purchased primarily in September.

5. Time it to the Children

Truth be told, kids guide many moms’ shopping decisions. Moms are unlikely to have a particularly successful shopping trip – especially for clothes and personalized supplies – until whomever she’s shopping for is ready too. And then, of course, there are the kids who are always in the mood: one-third of shoppers who spend $1,000 or more on each child shop year-round.

6. Don’t Forget the College Kids

Connecting with college kids (whose parents may now step back from their buying decisions) is also worth consideration. According to a recent study conducted by UM and Chegg, college students are more likely to notice advertising within mobile apps or on Facebook. Brands looking to target college students should know they expect to spend $163 billion on non-essential items in the next year as they head back to campus.

7. Deal in Dad

And don’t forget Dad. Dads are apt to spend 37 percent more than moms during back-to-school shopping to save time – meaning they’re less likely to search for and use coupons. But that doesn’t mean Pops shouldn’t be marketed to, as well.

Brands looking to connect with Mom, Dad or the kids must connect across all distribution channels and deliver an unparalleled shopping experience. The International Council of Shopping Centers indicates that customers who come through an omnichannel experience spend 3.5 times more money than those who are single-channel shoppers. If that’s not enough reason to make sure your brand is where it needs to be (i.e. everywhere), it may be time to go back to school.

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