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Back to School Shopping - US - January 2018

"Back-to-school shopping is a much hyped annual event for good reason: For the 2017 school season, consumers planned to spend over $83 billion for the occasion. During the past two school seasons (2016 and 2017), both parents and college students planned to increase their annual spending, going against trend. This could result in more of a “make do” year for the upcoming 2018 season, but given favorable factors like higher income and consumer confidence, as well as increased college enrollments, positive year-over-year (YOY) spending is also very likely if current macroeconomic factors hold through the first half of the year."

- Alexis DeSalva, Retail & Apparel Analyst

This report will look at the following areas:

  • How effective are advertisements?
  • Traditional retailers are losing some back-to-school shoppers to mass merchants including Amazon

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • Overview
          • The issues
            • How effective are advertisements?
              • Figure 1: Shopping influencers - parents and college students, November 2017
            • Traditional retailers are losing some back-to-school shoppers to mass merchants including Amazon
              • Figure 2: Retailers shopped- parents and college students, November 2017
            • The opportunities
              • Engage with young shoppers to foster long-term relationships
                • Figure 3: Attitudes toward back-to-school shopping - college students, November 2017
              • Appeal to multicultural shoppers
                • Figure 4: Shopping participation - parents, by race and Hispanic origin, November 2017
              • Rethink the shopping timeline
                • What it means
                • The Market – What You Need to Know

                  • Back-to-college spending drives the market, but K-12 spending also on the rise
                    • The evolving BTS shopper
                      • Positive enrollment levels could aid positive spending
                      • Market Size

                        • Bucking the trend, consumers expect to increase spending for the second year in a row
                          • Figure 5: Consumers' planned back-to-school (K-12) spending, in current dollars, 2012-17
                        • Anticipated college spending also goes against cycle
                          • Figure 6: Consumers' planned back-to-college spending, in current dollars, 2012-17
                      • Market Factors

                        • Higher confidence, lower unemployment paint an optimistic picture
                          • Figure 7: Consumer confidence and unemployment, 2000 - November 2017
                        • A changing population creates diversified needs
                          • Figure 8: Households, by presence of own children, 2006-16
                          • Figure 9: Households with related children, by race and Hispanic origin of householder, 2016
                        • Decline in younger education enrollment could signal a possible threat
                          • Figure 10: School enrollment of the population 3 Years Old and Over: 2012-16
                      • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                        • Deal-seeking behavior dominates back-to-school season, but parents and college students demonstrate different priorities
                          • Promotional timing and marketing mix represent areas for reconsideration
                            • Evolving the back-to-school shopping experience
                            • What’s Happening?

                              • Key shopping differences exist between parents and college students
                                • Retailers Shopped
                                  • Figure 11: Retailers shopped - parents versus college students, November 2017
                                • Items to Purchase
                                  • Figure 12: Top three items to purchase - parents versus college students, November 2017
                                • Attitudes toward Back-to-School Shopping
                                  • Figure 13: Attitudes toward back-to-school shopping- parents versus college students, November 2017
                                • Improvements
                                  • Figure 14: Improvements - parents versus college students, November 2017
                                • Social media playing a larger role
                                  • Figure 15: JCPenney pair up campaign, August 2017
                                  • Figure 16: Kohl’s back-to-school shopping challenge, August 2017
                              • What’s Struggling?

                                • Advertisements have less influence on shopping decisions
                                  • Figure 17: Shopping influencers - parents and college students, November 2017
                                • An issue with timing
                                • What’s Next?

                                  • A rapid move toward mobile
                                    • Is new really better?
                                      • Figure 18: Attitudes toward back-to-school shopping, college students, November 2017
                                    • Incorporating children into the shopping process
                                      • The effects of a changing retail landscape
                                      • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                        • Shopping participation is high, with few changes expected
                                          • Consumers are increasingly heading online for BTS needs
                                            • Different requirements result in different purchase priorities among parents and college students
                                              • College students are more likely to shop with a budget-conscious attitude
                                                • Promotions and recommendations are more influential than brands and advertisements
                                                  • Parents and students have a desire for deals
                                                  • Shopping Participation (K-12)

                                                      • Majority of parents are conducting back-to-school shopping, with few changes expected for 2018
                                                        • Figure 19: Shopping participation, November 2017
                                                      • Shopping for milestone years takes a priority for parents
                                                        • Figure 20: Shopping participation, by children’s grade level, November 2017
                                                      • Moms are more engaged than dads in shopping for younger children
                                                        • Figure 21: Shopping participation, by parental status, November 2017
                                                      • Hispanic and Non-Hispanic Black consumers are having more children and are shopping more as a result
                                                        • Figure 22: Shopping participation, by race and Hispanic origin, November 2017
                                                    • Shopping Participation (College)

                                                        • Virtually all college students shop for back-to-school, but fewer plan to do so in the upcoming year
                                                          • Figure 23: Shopping participation, November 2017
                                                        • Female undergrads and male grad students most likely to anticipate spending for future BTS season
                                                          • Figure 24: Shopping participation, full-time versus part-time students, November 2017
                                                        • Online students could have less reasons to shop
                                                          • Figure 25: Shopping participation, select demographics, November 2017
                                                        • Participation differences versus parents
                                                        • Retailers Shopped (K-12)

                                                            • Nearly all parents shop in stores but more are shifting online
                                                                • Figure 26: Retailers shopped, November 2017
                                                              • Younger parents are turning to mass for BTS needs
                                                                • Figure 27: Retailers shopped, by gender and age, November 2017
                                                              • Amazon and electronics stores are popular destinations for dads
                                                                • Figure 28: Select retailers shopped, by parental status, November 2017
                                                              • Black Non-Hispanic parents shop around, Hispanic parents prefer mass and Amazon
                                                                • Figure 29: Retailers shopped, by race and Hispanic origin, November 2017
                                                              • Parents describe their preferred places to shop back-to-school
                                                              • Retailers Shopped (College)

                                                                  • College students are increasingly shopping online for BTS needs
                                                                    • Figure 30: Retailers shopped, November 2017
                                                                  • Female students prefer mass merchandisers
                                                                    • Figure 31: Retailers shopped, by gender, November 2017
                                                                  • Amazon has universal appeal
                                                                    • Figure 32: Amazon shoppers, by select demographics, November 2017
                                                                    • Figure 33: Amazon Prime student email, November 2017
                                                                    • Figure 34: Amazon Prime student email, November 2017
                                                                  • Differences in retailers shopped versus parents
                                                                  • Items to Purchase (K-12)

                                                                      • Apparel & accessories, individual school supplies are a priority for parents
                                                                        • Figure 35: Items to purchase, November 2017
                                                                      • Dads are buying electronics and sporting equipment for older kids
                                                                          • Figure 36: Items to purchase, by select demographics, November 2017
                                                                        • Non-Hispanic Black and Asian parents also focus on other purchases
                                                                          • Figure 37: Items to purchase, by race and Hispanic origin, November 2017
                                                                      • Items to Purchase (College)

                                                                          • School supplies outrank clothes for college students
                                                                            • Figure 38: Items to purchase, November 2017
                                                                          • Men prioritize electronics, while women spend across categories
                                                                            • Figure 39: Items to purchase, by gender, November 2017
                                                                          • Less affluent students often reuse items, which means spending is prioritized on items requiring replenishment
                                                                            • Figure 40: Items to purchase, by household income, November 2017
                                                                          • Differences in prioritized purchases versus parents
                                                                          • Attitudes toward Back-to-School Shopping (K-12)

                                                                              • As parents and children age, they care more about buying new and getting the right items
                                                                                • Figure 41: Attitudes toward back-to-school shopping, by gender and age of children, November 2017
                                                                              • Young moms prefer to be strategic with back-to-school shopping
                                                                                  • Figure 42: Attitudes toward back-to-school shopping, by gender and age, November 2017
                                                                                • Moms versus dads: Price versus quality
                                                                                  • Figure 43: Attitudes toward back-to-school shopping, parental status, November 2017
                                                                                • Thoughts on timing
                                                                                • Attitudes toward Back-to-School Shopping (College)

                                                                                    • College students like to plan ahead and recycle items
                                                                                      • Figure 44: Attitudes toward back-to-school shopping, November 2017
                                                                                    • Female students are strategic and thrifty
                                                                                      • Figure 45: Attitudes toward back-to-school shopping, by gender, November 2017
                                                                                    • Many full-time students are buying their own supplies and are motivated by price
                                                                                      • Figure 46: Attitudes toward back-to-school shopping, full-time versus part-time student, November 2017
                                                                                    • Hispanic students are buying new, but sticking to their budgets
                                                                                      • Figure 47: Attitudes toward back-to-school shopping, by Hispanic origin, November 2017
                                                                                    • Attitudinal differences versus parents
                                                                                    • Shopping Influencers (K-12)

                                                                                        • Children, school recommendations, and promotions are top shopping influencers
                                                                                          • Figure 48: Shopping influencers, November 2017
                                                                                        • Older children influence parents’ purchase decisions
                                                                                          • Figure 49: Shopping influence of children, by gender and age of child, November 2017
                                                                                        • Older dads influenced by recommendations, while younger moms swayed by promotions
                                                                                          • Advertisements prove to be influential with Black Non-Hispanic and Hispanic parents
                                                                                            • Figure 50: Shopping influencers, by race and Hispanic origin, November 2017
                                                                                          • In their own words
                                                                                          • Shopping Influencers (College)

                                                                                              • Brands, prices, and peers more influential to college students than ads
                                                                                                • Figure 51: Shopping influencers, November 2017
                                                                                              • A number of factors influence female students; men turn to ads
                                                                                                • Figure 52: Shopping influencers, by gender, November 2017
                                                                                              • Differences in shopping influencers versus parents
                                                                                              • Improvements (K-12)

                                                                                                  • What parents want: free shipping and savings
                                                                                                    • Figure 53: Improvements, November 2017
                                                                                                  • Younger moms seek promotions and coupons, while younger dads desire alternative options
                                                                                                    • Figure 54: Improvements, by gender and age, November 2017
                                                                                                  • Hispanic parents want more options
                                                                                                    • Figure 55: Improvements, by Hispanic origin, November 2017
                                                                                                • Improvements (College)

                                                                                                    • What college student doesn’t want a deal?
                                                                                                      • Figure 56: Improvements, November 2017
                                                                                                    • Women want deals and flexibility; men want free shipping and trade-in options
                                                                                                      • Figure 57: Improvements, by gender, November 2017
                                                                                                    • Full-time students looking to save time and money
                                                                                                      • Figure 58: Improvements, full-time versus part-time students, November 2017
                                                                                                    • Differences in desired improvements versus parents
                                                                                                    • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                                      • Data sources
                                                                                                        • Sales data
                                                                                                          • Consumer survey data
                                                                                                            • Consumer qualitative research
                                                                                                              • Direct marketing creative
                                                                                                                • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                                                  • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                    • Terms
                                                                                                                    • Appendix – The Market

                                                                                                                        • Figure 59: Consumers' planned back-to-school spending (K-12), in inflation-adjusted dollars, 2012-17
                                                                                                                        • Figure 60: Consumers' planned back-to-college spending, in inflation-adjusted dollars, 2012-17
                                                                                                                        • Figure 61: Population by race and Hispanic origin, 2012-22
                                                                                                                        • Figure 62: Unemployment and Hispanic unemployment rate, October 2017
                                                                                                                        • Figure 63: Median household income, by race and Hispanic origin of householder, 2016
                                                                                                                        • Figure 64: Population by age, 2012-22

                                                                                                                    Back to School Shopping - US - January 2018

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