New Research: How to Grow Revenue With Better Back-to-School Audience Targeting
School’s out for summer, which means now is the time for retailers to be formulating their strategies for connecting with back-to-school shoppers. With such a huge sales opportunity at hand, marketers can’t afford to rely on the same tired tactics. Back-to-school (BTS) shopping is a $82.8 billion market, second behind the holiday season, making this a critical time for retailers.
To reach the right shoppers in the right place with the most effective messaging and creative, marketers need to stop speaking to all parents of school-age kids as if they’re the same. Naturally, parents of kindergarteners have different priorities, daily routines and life stages than parents with kids going off to college, but there are other important differences you need to know in order to maximize sales this season.
To get a deeper look at who BTS shoppers are, we leveraged insights within Resonate’s consumer intelligence platform to break parents into four primary categories: parents of elementary school kids, parents of middle school kids, parents of high school kids, and parents of college kids. We compared them on everything from their shopping behaviors to what they watch on TV and what social media platforms they use. Here are some of the insights that should inform your company’s BTS strategy this season.
How Parents Shop
Understanding how BTS consumers shop is important for retailers. It helps shape how products are positioned and what offers to present to shoppers. For example, college parents are 31 percent more likely than other parents to buy products online and pick them up in store. They also place a higher value on an enjoyable in-store experience. If you’re a retailer that sells dorm furniture, you might set up a mock dorm room inside your brick-and-mortar store to entice these shoppers. They also slightly overindex for impulse shopping.
High school and college parents slightly overindex for cutting coupons, so send them a booklet of coupons before the BTS season. Parents across all segments are big fans of loyalty programs, especially college and elementary school parents, so consider taking yours to the next level. An easy return policy is more important for elementary and middle school parents, so highlight your smooth process when targeting these segments.
For K-12 parents, who especially value being listened to by brands, emphasize how you’ve incorporated customer input into your products or services. Mention that a product is back by popular demand or that you’ve made changes to a product based on customer feedback.
Where to Find Parents
Armed with an understanding of how parents of different-aged children shop, it’s important that you reach them in the right places as they consume media, both online and offline. Elementary parents are 58 percent more likely to consider themselves heavy social media users. As the age of children increases, the less likely parents are to consider themselves heavy social media users. When it comes to social media, elementary and middle school parents prefer more visual channels like Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest. High school and college parents can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter, which are more career-oriented channels. These parents are also roughly 30 percent more likely to have full-time jobs, therefore run a paid social campaign across these channels during the work week. Middle school parents are 18 percent more likely than any other group of parents to use a desktop computer regularly, so run targeted desktop ads for this segment.
Parents across all age groups make purchases on their mobile phone, but elementary parents are 36 percent more likely than other parents to do so. When it comes to receiving marketing messages, college parents prefer snail mail over digital messaging. Put together a catalog of your deals or a booklet of coupons to mail out to this particular segment.
When it comes to TV, here are a few points to keep in mind:
- All parents stream TV shows, particularly on Hulu with Live TV (except for college parents). Elementary and middle school parents also subscribe to HBO, while high school parents also watch Netflix. College parents do most of their streaming on ESPN+, Starz and Showtime.
- High school, college and elementary school parents both watch TV mostly in the early morning during the week, and middle school parents watch in the early afternoon. Therefore, keep these engagement times in mind when you’re getting specific with ad targeting.
- Elementary and middle school parents are roughly 20 percent more likely to stream shows on their tablet, while high school and college parents stream on their TV, so place your ads accordingly.
BTS shopping is a critical time of year for retailers, as you have the potential to grab nearly 20 percent of your yearly revenue from this annual shopping frenzy. Reaching the right people with the right message is incredibly important. Segmenting parents according to the age of their children gives retailers the opportunity to reach, engage, convert and form stronger, longer-lasting connections with current and future customers.
Sarah Title is a content marketing manager for Resonate, a technology company that studies consumer motivations.
Related story: Mobile's Impact on Back-to-School Shopping