Adapting to Changing Habits for Back-to-School Shoppers | Adtaxi

Adapting to Changing Habits for Back-to-School Shoppers

Digital Marketing

Jennifer Flanagan

Aug 03 2021

With more kids returning to full-time, in-person learning this fall, brands are gearing up for inevitable changes to the back-to-school shopping season. Fall 2021 is expected to see fewer in-store purchases and more attention paid to businesses that appear grounded and in-touch with customer needs.

These changes indicate a need for marketers to adapt their tried-and-true strategies and messaging to a new era of school shopping — one that takes place largely online and is full of opportunity for ecommerce brands to make the transition back to the classroom easier than ever.

Changes in School Supply Shopping Patterns

This fall’s back-to-school rush finds parents and students in a varied range of circumstances as the pandemic and its accompanying safety measures continue to make their impact felt. Businesses must understand shoppers who feel cautious about in-person schooling as well as those excited by the prospect of a return to normalcy — and be prepared to leverage content for both groups in an authentic way. An estimated 70% of surveyed consumers shop only with brands that understand their needs, placing a greater emphasis on personalization and understanding where customers spend most of their time.

Varying your back-to-school messages is key to connecting with your target audiences as shopping trends continue to shift online. Parents are anticipated to spend 150% more on school supplies this fall compared to 2020, with 95% of U.S. shoppers searching for special deals specific to the back-to-school season. Limited-time promotions and season-specific content showcasing relevant products in use will help any consumer see the value in your brand, but it’s also important to include authentic messaging that fosters trust in your business as new online buying habits develop. 

Where to Find Your Best Customers

Determining where to deploy your newly-focused seasonal ads ultimately comes down to which channels lend themselves most to your target demographic. For U.S. consumers, data shows 90% of parents with children ages 5-7 are OTT viewers. Online videos have influenced more than 20% of viewers to make a purchase decision — a number that climbs to 32% for display ads.

CTV poses an opportunity for businesses looking for a less-crowded back-to-school sales outlet. The majority of TV viewers use devices to explore topics relevant to their viewing habits, and over 70% say they use a mobile device to look up a product they see related to the ads or content they are currently watching. With a well-timed CTV ad, your brand can deliver a hand-picked message directly to both parents and students actively searching for products they see on their TV screen.

This complements other strategies you likely already have in place such as Facebook, Instagram, or other social channels. With these you’ll be able to engage with the highest-quality customers you can find — those who already follow your brand’s social accounts. Social Media Today’s data reveals 9 out of 10 consumers will buy from brands they follow on social, and 86% prefer a followed brand over a competitor.

How to Make Your Brand Stand Out

Successful campaigns at this crucial time of year showcase products in relevant settings — when users spot school supplies on a desk, attractive dorm room decor, or trendy styles around a college campus they can more easily spot what they might still be missing as they gear up for fall. Showing your products in use is a more effective way to project brand value, as opposed to more evergreen shots that risk failing to stand out from the crowd.

Special back-to-school discounts and promotions go a long way toward winning over parents on the lookout for classroom supplies and apparel, as does their children’s product preferences. In fact, four out of five parents say their child held at least a moderate influence on school clothing and accessory purchases. When structuring back-to-school campaigns, don’t forget to segment younger audiences through their preferred channels.

The return to the classroom is a relatively short shopping season, but that doesn’t rule out the need for lower-funnel tactics to complement your brand’s display, social, and search efforts. Campaigns to re-engage qualified shoppers can offer reminders of relevant product interest through dynamic retargeting, personalized emails, time-sensitive discount codes, and other helpful resources. Running a full-funnel ad campaign for back-to-school specifics positions your business as a helping hand in what can often be a stressful time for parents, children, and educators. Make the most of this opportunity to help your customers prepare accordingly — they won’t forget it.

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