Sunday, May 26, 2024

Back to school learnings

While the next back-to-school period is still months away in Australia, it has been and gone recently in the northern hemisphere. What lessons can retailers take from other markets?


According to research from Mintel, nearly 3 in 5 surveyed US parents say they look to their kids for what to buy when back-to-school shopping. And while mums prioritise school recommendations (41% of respondents) and promotions/coupons (40%), dads’ go-to sources for back-to-school shopping are brand familiarity (32%) and social media (33%). Retailer recommendations (15%) and ‘other parents’ (13%) seem to be the last places parents look for shopping ideas.

Regardless of where the inspiration comes from, parents are increasingly shopping on their phones, with 47% of surveyed US parents saying they shopped from a mobile device for the 2021-22 school year, up from just 17% for the previous school year.

“Brands looking to leverage the popularity of social media and many parents’ propensity to shop online should consider social commerce and influencer marketing strategies,” Mintel Senior Retail and E-commerce Analyst Brittany Steiger says.

“TikTok’s appeal and expanding popularity make it a great channel to help brands and retailers engage with Gen Z and younger parents by starting their own challenges or hashtags, or by participating in existing ones.”

Brands should also focus on convenience, value, and stress reduction, she adds, as 58% of surveyed US parents agree that back-to-school shopping is stressful (compared with 19% in 2019).


French multinational retailer and wholesaler Carrefour recently ran an ‘All in one go’ campaign in the UAE, offering up to 50% off school supplies alongside competitions, prizes and rewards.

Christophe Orcet, Head of Commercial and Operations of Carrefour UAE at Majid Al Futtaim Retail, says convenience and competitive prices are the main two factors that influence consumer habits in the choice of where to shop.

“Therefore, this year, we decided to focus on offering our customers the best value all in one go,” he says. “Parents [were] able to find all their kids’ school essentials in one place, paying one bill and collecting meaningful rewards along the way. There [were] also many activities and prizes to complement the retail experience at Carrefour to make shopping enjoyable for the whole family.”

For the past two years, virtual classes have greatly affected the back-to-school season in the UAE, with stationery sales dropping by almost 50% in 2020 before recovering slightly in 2021.

“Interestingly, the demand for stationery was compensated by electronics as parents prepared for home schooling with printers, toners, laptops, tablets and more,” Mr Orcet says. “This year, we expect stationery sales to reach pre-pandemic levels as students return to the classroom, and we’re proud to be supporting families across the UAE.”

Read more about back to school trends and products in the October issue of Retail World.

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