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Back to School Shopping - US - January 2015

“With many retailers expanding the scope of their price matching policies, differentiating based on low prices is becoming increasingly difficult. However, shoppers’ trust is an increasingly important currency that can be exchanged for engagement. Retailers that can meet needs as specific as individual school requirements can build that trust, thus appearing not as simply a provider of school supplies, but as a knowledgeable source of information regarding what students need in order to be successful.”
– Bryant Harland, Technology and Media Analyst

This report looks at the following areas:

  • Back-to-school shopping participation
  • Differentiation in back-to-school sales: Beyond discounts
  • In-store and online back-to-school shopping

Anticipated back-to-school shopping spending has remained steady since 2010. In 2014, consumers reported they planned to spend over $70 billion on back-to-school in total (including both kindergarten through grade 12 and college spending), marking a slight increase from 2013. However, retailers face a growing challenge in the heightened demand for multichannel experiences across all retail categories.

This report explores what consumers want out of the retail experience when back-to-school shopping as well as the prominence of online and in-store purchasing. Other topics explored in this report include the types of information used on path to purchase, back-to-school shopping opinions, and both college and shopping for grades kindergarten through 12.

This report defines back-to-school shopping as any shopping done in preparation for a school term. This may include clothing and accessories, pens, pencils, paper, electronics, and other items consumers purchase specifically for school.

 

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Table of contents

  1. Scope and Themes

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
        • Data sources
          • Market overview
            • Market drivers
              • Consumer qualitative research
                • Consumer survey data
                  • Abbreviations and terms
                    • Abbreviations
                      • Terms
                      • Executive Summary

                        • Overview
                          • The market
                            • Figure 1: Consumers’ planned back-to-school spending (billions) – College and K-12, 2007-14
                          • Key players
                            • The consumer
                              • Only 11% of back-to-school shoppers plan to spend less in 2015
                                • Figure 2: Planned back-to-school spending, October 2014
                              • Information used on path to purchase
                                • Figure 3: Information used on path to purchase, October 2014
                              • Online and in-store back-to-school shopping
                                • Figure 4: Retailers visited for back-to-school shopping, October 2014
                              • What we think
                              • Issues and Insights

                                  • Back-to-school shopping participation
                                    • The issues
                                      • The implications
                                        • Differentiation in back-to-school sales: Beyond discounts
                                          • The issues
                                            • The implications
                                              • In-store and online back-to-school shopping
                                                • The issues
                                                  • The implications
                                                  • Trend Applications

                                                      • Trend: Extend My Brand
                                                        • Trend: Life Hacking
                                                          • Trend: Experience is All
                                                          • Market Overview

                                                            • Key points
                                                              • Planned back-to-school spending for grades K-12
                                                                • Figure 5: Consumers’ planned back-to-school spending (billions) – K-12, 2007-14
                                                              • Planned back-to-school spending for college
                                                                • Figure 6: Consumers’ planned back-to-school spending (billions) – college, 2007-14
                                                            • Market Drivers

                                                              • Key points
                                                                • Education budgets fall between 2008 and 2014
                                                                  • Modest growth in education enrollment, driven primarily by increased college attendance
                                                                    • Figure 7: US population aged 3 and older enrolled in school, by grade level, 2000-13
                                                                    • Figure 8: US population aged 3 and older enrolled in school, by grade level, 2000-13 (cont.)
                                                                  • Students starting to go digital
                                                                  • Marketing Strategies and Innovations

                                                                    • Bed Bath & Beyond
                                                                      • Back-to-school shopping starts giving back to schools
                                                                      • Social Media

                                                                          • Key findings
                                                                            • Market overview
                                                                              • Key social media metrics
                                                                                  • Figure 9: Key social media metrics for select back-to-school retailers, December 2014
                                                                                • Brand usage and awareness
                                                                                  • Figure 10: Brand usage and awareness for select back-to-school retailers, October 2014
                                                                                • Interactions with select back-to-school retailers
                                                                                  • Figure 11: Levels of interaction for select back-to-school retailers, October 2014
                                                                                • Leading online campaigns
                                                                                  • Online tools
                                                                                    • Charitable initiatives
                                                                                      • Video
                                                                                        • What we think
                                                                                          • Online conversations
                                                                                            • Figure 12: Online mentions for select back-to-school retailers, by week, Dec. 15, 2013-Dec. 14, 2014
                                                                                          • Where are people talking about BTS retailers online?
                                                                                            • Figure 13: Online mentions for select back-to-school retailers, by page type, Dec. 15, 2013-Dec. 14, 2014
                                                                                          • What are people talking about?
                                                                                            • Figure 14: Topics of conversation for select back-to-school retailers, Dec. 15, 2013-Dec. 14, 2014
                                                                                        • Participation in Back-to-school Shopping

                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                            • Nearly half of consumers went back-to-school shopping in 2014
                                                                                              • Figure 15: Back-to-school shopping participation, by age, October 2014
                                                                                            • BTS Shoppers: Who are they shopping for?
                                                                                              • Figure 16: Target audience for back-to-school products, by gender and age, October 2014
                                                                                            • More than one third of college shoppers are earning Bachelor’s degrees
                                                                                              • Figure 17: Degree being earned by college back-to-school shoppers, October 2014
                                                                                          • Retailers Visited for Back-to-school Products

                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                              • Online makes less frequented BTS destinations more competitive
                                                                                                • Figure 18: Retailers visited for back-to-school shopping, October 2014
                                                                                              • 25-34s visit the largest range of retailers
                                                                                                • Figure 19: Retailers visited for back-to-school shopping – Any shopping, by age, October 2014
                                                                                              • Fathers more likely to buy BTS items online
                                                                                                • Figure 20: Retailers visited for back-to-school shopping – purchased products online, by parental status by gender and presence of children in household, October 2014
                                                                                              • College BTS shoppers turn to Amazon
                                                                                                • Figure 21: Retailers visited for back-to-school shopping – Purchased products online, by target audience for back-to-school products, October 2014
                                                                                            • Planned Back-to-school Shopping Spending in 2015

                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                • More than half of 25-34s planning to spend more on BTS shopping in 2015
                                                                                                  • Figure 22: Planned back-to-school spending, by age, October 2014
                                                                                                • Men show elevated interest in BTS electronics
                                                                                                  • Figure 23: Planned back-to-school spending for product categories, by gender and age, October 2014
                                                                                                • Planned electronics spending increases slightly after grade six
                                                                                                  • Figure 24: Planned back-to-school spending, by target audience for back-to-school products, October 2014
                                                                                              • Consumers’ Back-to-school Shopping Behavior

                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                  • One in five BTS shoppers see shopping late as a good way to save money
                                                                                                      • Figure 25: Back-to-school shopping experience opinions, by gender, October 2014
                                                                                                    • Quality versus price in back-to-school shopping
                                                                                                        • Figure 26: Back-to-school shopping experience opinions, by household income, October 2014
                                                                                                      • Nearly 40% of parents say they would spend more on their children than on themselves
                                                                                                          • Figure 27: Back-to-school shopping experience opinions, by age, October 2014
                                                                                                      • Information Used on Path to Purchase

                                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                                          • Brand familiarity becomes more important with age
                                                                                                            • Figure 28: Information used on path to purchase – Any rank, by age, October 2014
                                                                                                          • Fathers more receptive to TV ads
                                                                                                            • Figure 29: Information used on path to purchase – Any rank, by parental status by gender with children in household, October 2014
                                                                                                          • Back-to-school shoppers and retailers’ expertise
                                                                                                            • Figure 30: Information used on path to purchase – Any rank, by back-to-school shopping experience opinions, October 2014
                                                                                                        • Desired Improvements to the Back-to-school Shopping Experience

                                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                                            • Discounts lead desired retail improvements
                                                                                                              • Figure 31: Improvements for the back-to-school shopping experience – Any rank, by gender and age, October 2014
                                                                                                            • Back-to-school shoppers seek faster checkout, larger product selections
                                                                                                                • Figure 32: Improvements for the back-to-school shopping experience – Any rank, by household income, October 2014
                                                                                                              • Fathers interested in product/service bundles
                                                                                                                • Figure 33: Improvements for the back-to-school shopping experience – Any rank, by parental status by gender with children in household, October 2014
                                                                                                            • Opinions and Attitudes Regarding Back-to-school Shopping

                                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                                • Creating positive in-store experiences among young back-to-school shoppers
                                                                                                                  • Figure 34: Overall opinions regarding back-to-school shopping – Any agree, by gender and age, October 2014
                                                                                                                • The influence of children on BTS shoppers
                                                                                                                  • Figure 35: Overall opinions regarding back-to-school shopping – Any agree, by parental status by gender with children in household, October 2014
                                                                                                              • Kids’ Opinions about School and Advertising

                                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                                  • Kids’ freedom to select back-to-school brands
                                                                                                                    • Figure 36: Kids' school supplies, by age, April 2013-June 2014
                                                                                                                  • Are there enough children-focused media?
                                                                                                                    • Figure 37: Kids' attitudes regarding media, by age, April 2013-June 2014
                                                                                                                • Impact of Hispanic Origin

                                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                                    • Nearly half of Hispanics plan to spend more on back-to-school in 2015
                                                                                                                      • Figure 38: Planned back-to-school spending, by race/Hispanic origin, October 2014
                                                                                                                    • Hispanics less interested in coupons, show elevated interest in price comparison tools
                                                                                                                      • Figure 39: Information used on path to purchase – Any rank, by race/Hispanic origin, October 2014
                                                                                                                    • Hispanics face conflicting demands when shopping for back-to-school
                                                                                                                      • Figure 40: Overall opinions regarding back-to-school shopping – Any agree, by race/Hispanic origin, October 2014
                                                                                                                  • Qualitative Research

                                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                                      • Back-to-school planning and research habits
                                                                                                                        • Technology and BTS shopping
                                                                                                                          • Consumers’ path to purchase: deciding what and where to buy
                                                                                                                            • Influence of others on back-to-school shoppers
                                                                                                                              • Back-to-school shopping frustrations
                                                                                                                                • The ideal back-to-school shopping day
                                                                                                                                • Cluster Analysis

                                                                                                                                      • Figure 41: Target clusters, October, 2014
                                                                                                                                    • Impassioned shoppers
                                                                                                                                      • Demographics
                                                                                                                                        • Characteristics
                                                                                                                                          • Opportunities
                                                                                                                                            • Productivity-focused shoppers
                                                                                                                                              • Demographics
                                                                                                                                                • Characteristics
                                                                                                                                                  • Opportunities
                                                                                                                                                    • Indifferent shoppers
                                                                                                                                                      • Demographics
                                                                                                                                                        • Characteristics
                                                                                                                                                          • Opportunities
                                                                                                                                                            • Cluster characteristic tables
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 42: Target clusters, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 43: Target audience for back-to-school products, by target clusters, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 44: Retailers visited for back-to-school shopping – Any shopping, by target clusters, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 45: Planned back-to-school spending, by target clusters, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 46: Planned back-to-school spending for product categories, by target clusters, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 47: Back-to-school shopping experience opinions, by target clusters, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 48: Improvements for the back-to-school shopping experience – Any rank, by target clusters, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 49: Overall opinions regarding back-to-school shopping – Any agree, by target clusters, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                            • Cluster demographic tables
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 50: Target clusters, by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                            • Cluster methodology
                                                                                                                                                            • Appendix – Other Useful Consumer Tables

                                                                                                                                                              • 2014 Back-to-school shopping participation
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 51: Back-to-school shopping participation, by gender and age, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 52: Back-to-school shopping participation, by race/Hispanic origin, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Who consumers purchased back-to-school items for
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 53: Target audience for back-to-school products, by age, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 54: Target audience for back-to-school products, by household income, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 55: Target audience for back-to-school products, by parental status by gender with children in household, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Retailers visited for back-to-school shopping
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 56: Retailers visited for back-to-school shopping – Any shopping, by gender and age, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 57: Retailers visited for back-to-school shopping – Any shopping, by household income
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 58: Retailers visited for back-to-school shopping – Any shopping, by race/Hispanic origin, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Retailers shopped for back-to-school – Online
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 59: Retailers visited for back-to-school shopping – Purchased products online, by age, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 60: Retailers visited for back-to-school shopping – Purchased products online, by household income, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Retailers shopped for back-to-school – In-store
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 61: Retailers visited for back-to-school shopping – Purchased products in-store, by age, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Planned back-to-school spending in 2015
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 62: Planned back-to-school spending, by gender and age, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 63: Planned back-to-school spending, by household income, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 64: Planned back-to-school spending, by parental status with children in household, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 65: Planned back-to-school spending, by parental status by gender with children in household, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 66: Planned back-to-school spending, by type of back-to-school shopper, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Back-to-school shoppers’ path to purchase
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 67: Information used on path to purchase – Any rank, by gender and age, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 68: Information used on path to purchase, by target audience for BTS products, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Back-to-school shopping behaviors
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 69: Back-to-school shopping experience opinions, by age, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 70: Back-to-school shopping experience opinions, by race/Hispanic origin, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 71: Back-to-school shopping experience opinions, by parental status by gender with children in household, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 72: Back-to-school shopping experience opinions, by type of back-to-school shopper, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Desired improvements for the back-to-school shopping experience
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 73: Improvements for the back-to-school shopping experience – Any rank, by age, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 74: Improvements for the back-to-school shopping experience – Any rank, by parental status with children in household, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 75: Improvements for the back-to-school shopping experience – Any rank, by type of back-to-school shopper, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 76: Improvements for the back-to-school shopping experience – Any rank, by race/Hispanic origin, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Back-to-school shopping opinions
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 77: Overall opinions regarding back-to-school shopping – Any agree, by age, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 78: Overall opinions regarding back-to-school shopping – Any agree, by household income, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 79: Overall opinions regarding back-to-school shopping – Any agree, by parental status with children in household, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 80: Overall opinions regarding back-to-school shopping – Any agree, by type of back-to-school shopper, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Kids’ opinions about school and computer use
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 81: Kids' opinions regarding school, by age, April 2013-June 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 82: Kids' computer software and game usage, by age, April 2013-June 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 83: Kids' computer usage, by age, April 2013-June 2014
                                                                                                                                                            • Appendix – Social Media

                                                                                                                                                              • Key social media metrics
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 84: Key social media metrics for select back-to-school retailers, December 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Online conversations
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 85: Online mentions for select back-to-school retailers, by week, Dec. 15, 2013-Dec. 14, 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Brand usage or awareness
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 86: Brand usage or awareness, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 87: Walmart usage or awareness, by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 88: Kmart usage or awareness, by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 89: Target usage or awareness, by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 90: Amazon.com usage or awareness, by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 91: Staples usage or awareness, by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 92: Macy’s usage or awareness, by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                              • Activities done
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 93: Activities done, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 94: Walmart – Activities done – I have looked up/talked about this brand online on social media…, by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 95: Walmart – Activities done – I have contacted/interacted with the brand online on social media to…, by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 96: Walmart – Activities done – I follow/like the brand on social media because…., by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 97: Walmart – Activities done – I have researched the brand on social media to…., by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 98: Kmart – Activities done – I have looked up/talked about this brand online on social media…, by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 99: Kmart – Activities done – I have contacted/interacted with the brand online on social media to…, by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 100: Kmart – Activities done – I follow/like the brand on social media because…., by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 101: Kmart – Activities done – I have researched the brand on social media to…., by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 102: Target – Activities done – I have looked up/talked about this brand online on social media…, by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 103: Target – Activities done – I have contacted/interacted with the brand online on social media to…, by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 104: Target – Activities done – I follow/like the brand on social media because…., by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 105: Target – Activities done – I have researched the brand on social media to…., by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 106: Amazon.com – Activities done – I have looked up/talked about this brand online on social media…, by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 107: Amazon.com – Activities done – I have contacted/interacted with the brand online on social media to…, by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 108: Amazon.com – Activities done – I follow/like the brand on social media because…., by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 109: Amazon.com – Activities done – I have researched the brand on social media to…., by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 110: Staples – Activities done – I have looked up/talked about this brand online on social media…, by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 111: Staples – Activities done – I have contacted/interacted with the brand online on social media to…, by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 112: Staples – Activities done – I follow/like the brand on social media because…., by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 113: Staples – Activities done – I have researched the brand on social media to…., by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 114: Macy’s – Activities done – I have looked up/talked about this brand online on social media…, by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 115: Macy’s – Activities done – I have contacted/interacted with the brand online on social media to…, by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 116: Macy’s – Activities done – I follow/like the brand on social media because…., by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 117: Macy’s – Activities done – I have researched the brand on social media to…., by demographics, October 2014
                                                                                                                                                            • Appendix – Trade Associations

                                                                                                                                                              Companies Covered

                                                                                                                                                              To learn more about the companies covered in this report please contact us.

                                                                                                                                                              Back to School Shopping - US - January 2015

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