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If you’re a retailer or a CPG brand, you’re likely in the middle of planning the latter half of 2017, which leads off with Back-to-School and Back-to-College. May and June is a great time to ensure internal alignment on goals and objectives for these popular retail events, identify key target audiences, decide on the merchandise and services you want to promote and develop a weekly marketing plan for July, August and September.
According to research from Statista1, in 2016 Back-to-School was the second-highest seasonal spending time of the year in the US with roughly $68B in sales, trailing only the winter holidays and far outpacing the $21 billion spent on No. 3 Mother’s Day.
Chart source: Statista
Here are a few tips to help brands maximize engagement with customers and drive sales:
A = Acquisition: From nursery school to college, there were 78 million children and adults enrolled in school throughout the country in October 20132. According to research from Deloitte3 households with school or college-aged children will spend approximately $500 on Back-to-School products which means there is plenty of opportunity for savvy marketers to capitalize on this spend and increase their market share.
With the help of third party lists and data appends marketers can reach households with school-aged children and build multichannel display, email and direct mail campaigns to target their parents, thus driving new customer acquisition.
B = Be where your customers are: All marketing channels have a primary objective and should be used accordingly to generate awareness, consideration, revenue and loyalty.
C = Connect with your most loyal customers: Brands can capitalize on their rewards and loyalty programs by finding ways to recognize, thank, and incentivize their loyalty customers above and beyond what the general population gets. According to a recent survey, 42% of consumers look for stores where they can earn rewards from back-to-school purchases and 36% search for stores where they can redeem rewards; moreover, 66% say rewards influence where they decide to shop. So rather than following the pack and relying heavily on discounts that affect profitability, marketers should consider loyalty offers, services or experiential rewards to drive members to their brand.
1 = One platform is critical: Mobile. More than 50% of consumers will use their smartphones and tablets as part of their Back-to-School shopping journey. Mothers are big drivers of this type of shopping; they are 30% more likely to shop on mobile than other adult demographics and 43% more likely to click "Buy" on their smartphones. Below are some of the must-haves for an excellent mobile experience:
2 = Two Key Time Periods for Consumers
Chart source: The 2016 Back-to-School Trends You Need to Know
Almost 50% of consumers start shopping BEFORE August, so brands need to be in market as soon as Independence Day, driving consumers to stores and online with engaging messages and appealing promotions. Since school start dates vary, marketers would be smart to employ a regional strategy in support of a larger national campaign.
3 = Develop and execute (at least) THREE tests. Given the number of shoppers during Back-to-School, it is a great time to test and assess what works so it can be applied to the peak holiday season. In this sense, marketers should begin with the end in mind – what can they learn today to be more effective tomorrow? One of the most effective ways to do this is to develop a multivariate testing schedule to facilitate fast learning. Here are some quick email components to consider testing:
The retail industry has been struggling to adapt to changes in consumer behavior and the explosion of smaller brands online, especially during the defining last months of the year when seasonal events and holidays dictate much of consumers’ purchases. Advanced planning of relevant, informed and personalized campaigns can be instrumental for retailers in retaining and expanding their market share.
4. Frank Newport and Steve Ander, “Four in 10 Americans Look Forward to Checking Mail,” Gallup, April 2, 2015. Copyright © (2015) Gallup, Inc. All rights reserved. The content is used with permission; however, Gallup retains all rights of republication.