The back-to-school market is estimated to increase 5.8% year-on-year to hit $34.4 billion this year with parents spending an average of $661 for each child, according to the 2022 Deloitte back-to-school survey. This is despite 57% of parents being concerned about higher prices due to inflation and 33% reporting more difficult household finances than last year. As a result, 77% say they will switch brands if product prices are too high.
Which channels are parents using to shop?
In-store BTS spend is expected to reach $16.8 billion, while $11.9 billion will be spent online.
Social media will be used to make purchases by 35% of parents, down from 41% last year. Emerging tech will be used by 42%, a slight dip from 44%. Some 59% of parents are wary about the metaverse as a shopping channel.
Despite the slight dip in social media and emerging tech usage, digital use for back-to-school shopping is still well above pre-pandemic levels, the report notes.
The top emerging tech for parents to use while shopping are digital wallets, shoppable content, cashierless stores, buy buttons on social and live or interactive streaming.
In addition, 65% will shop using their smartphone, while 58% intend to use a desktop.
Sustainability and mental health are a key focus
Half of parents are willing to spend more on sustainable products and 29% would rather purchase a refurbished or used product than a new one. The report also notes that shoppers focused on sustainability spend 22% more than the average buyer.
Their children’s mental health is a concern for half of parents and 36% buy products or services designed to help. Parents with a mental health concern spend 8% more on BTS shopping then their peers.
Millennial and Generation X parents use social media about the same amount to browse, but millennials are more likely to use it to seek reviews or recommendations, while Gen X prioritize it to find coupons or promotions.
In addition, 50% of millennials are keen to shop in the metaverse compared to just 31% of Gen X.
Key BTS lessons for marketers
SmartBrief asked Ryan Pintado-Vertner, founder and CEO of Smoketown, a boutique brand consultancy, about the main issues marketers should be aware of this back-to-school season. One of those factors is how the pandemic has taken a toll on both parents and their kids.
“Parents are now playing catch up, they want things to feel normal,” Pintado-Vertner says, which explains why, despite financial worries, parents are still invested in ensuring their children’s back-to-school experience is better than ever.
“These last two-to-three years have left many parents feeling the need to and desire to be more emotionally connected to the experience. They desperately want to give their children everything they need to be fully ready to head back to school,” Pintado-Vertner explains.
One way marketers can stand out from the back-to-school crowd is by making emotional connections between their brand and a parent’s desire to give their child the best experience.
“Helping a parent prepare their child for school is about helping the parent feel like they’ve stepped their kid up for success,” Pintado-Vertner says. “Marketing should have emotional ties to it and it should be tied to the experience of what it’s like to head back into the classroom feeling prepared and confident to start off the new year.”
Successfully creating that emotional connection “shows that their brand is part of what it looks like for that child to be successful,” Pintado-Vertner says.
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