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by Frankie Karrer
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Shoppers are stocking up now for their back-to-school essentials, but let’s not forget about the advertisers.
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A recent article earlier this month released by Forbes revealed that back-to-school sales are projected to grow about 5.9% this year, versus 13.1% last year. We weren’t too surprised to see that this is the case, amid inflationary pressures, ongoing war, higher gas prices, and the whisper of a recession on the horizon. However, let’s not discount the fact that there are still windows of opportunity for advertisers. For example, during the back-to-school shopping period, families are likely to spend more on apparel and accessories and shoes compared to last year, since students are back to in-school learning instead of at home—and yes, because of kids and teens outgrowing what they wore a year or two ago.
Read on as we shed some light on changing consumer sentiment and behavior that is sure to influence your back-to-school marketing strategy this year.
Back-to-school (and any shopping holiday, really), is always a competitive time for brands—but be prepared to battle it out even harder to win over consumers. This year, over 40% of shoppers are investing more time in comparative shopping—seeking sales and deep discounts. Over a third of shoppers are ditching brand loyalty in favor of generic or store brands.
The government has stepped in, with 17 states holding back-to-school tax-free holidays to ease the cost-pressures—expect these to cover most back-to-school supplies including apparel, computers, electronics and more up until the end of August this year. Check our chart below for more information and click here for state-specific exemptions.
For advertisers, this means one thing—expect an influx of shopping activity during this tax-free time (i.e. all of August) and ensure that your campaigns are switched on for the full month. Our annual back-to-school guide outlines the specific dates that you should be targeting.
Findings from Deloitte’s 2022 Back-to-School survey revealed that online shopping continues to gain popularity versus other shopping methods, with 10% more shoppers choosing to add-to-cart this year versus 2021.
However, the biggest difference we see this year is the perception (of rather, lack of) of brand loyalty, which seems to have gone out of the window in light of increased price sensitivity:
This means matching messaging to consumer sentiment is key. Advertisers should heavy up on the BOTF (bottom of the funnel) promotional and price messaging, calling out deep discounts, free and/or expedited shipping where possible, since this is what is converting shoppers. This is a great opportunity to incorporate multiple creative elements and test different variables (or even types of promotional messaging) to see what resonates. Here are some examples you might want to try:
Our research also revealed that shoppers are shopping on the move, with smartphones continuing to gain popularity, up almost 20% from 2020.
Building an omnichannel advertising strategy is key to reaching these shoppers—since they’re not only on smartphones, they’re also tuned into their TV and glancing at their laptops, too. With this in mind, you’ll want to ensure that your messaging is consistent during each touchpoint, to give shoppers the confidence to shop with you (and also, recall helps to drive conversions). Features like MNTN Multi-Touch is one way that advertisers can reach shoppers on their other devices in addition to Connected TV within the same campaign. While shoppers are price-sensitive during this time, they also expect superior customer service too. This is a great opportunity in your creative to experiment with different messages beyond price. For example, give users a glimpse into your brick and mortar store (if you’re one of those types of retailers), and other ways that make the shopping experience a pleasant one—like contactless shipping, free expedited shipping, VIP days for loyalty program members and more. The sky’s the limit.
We know data speaks volumes, which is why we’ve also dug into our own MNTN Performance TV data to bring this year’s back-to-school trends to you. Check out our report for the key takeaways to breeze through the season.