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How brands can reach the back-to-school audience (Includes interview)

The Toluna survey finds that states that 93 percent of back-to-school supplies are influenced by the list generated by the school. This means that brands needs to find new and imaginative ways to market their products. To understand how, Digital Journal spoke with Jay Rampuria, EVP, Global Business & Corporate Development at Toluna.

In the interview, Rampuria discusses the challenges of back to school marketing and recent consumer insights.

Digital Journal: How much are families typically spending on school supplies?

Jay Rampuria: A recent Toluna survey found that 62 percent of people spend $50 dollars or more each fall, with 26 percent spending more than $100 dollars on school supplies. Approximately 75 percent of respondents spent between $50 and $200 dollars a year on new school clothes. The U.S. National Retail Federation estimates the back-to-school market to be around $80.7 billion for 2019.

DJ: How do schools draw up back to school supplies lists?

Rampuria: Schools draw up back to school lists from individual teacher’s asks based on their lesson plans throughout the year. This is becoming more common. According to a Toluna survey, more than 93 percent of those that shop for back to school said they relied solely or mostly on a list dictated by the school. Many parents can tell you these lists are specific, indicating the type of supply, the brand, and the quantity.

DJ: How does this approach work against brands?

Rampuria:Teachers and schools creating their back to school lists based on individual lesson plans alongside brand familiarity presents a unique challenge to brands in that they can’t rely on traditional tools like creative packaging, licensing deals or advertising to attract children and parents. This is where it is of the utmost importance that brands can access consumer insights to understand any particular trends. Accessing exact target audiences and implementing agile research solutions to inform decision-making will make or break the season.

DJ: How can brands develop BTS marketing so they get on lists?

Rampuria:The best way for brands to develop marketing that will be effective, is through agile consumer insights. Understanding, as early as possible, what customers are looking for and how they are being swayed into different purchasing decisions is the most effecting way to keep up.

DJ: To what extent is digital marketing important?

Rampuria:Digital marketing is part of the shift toward more personalized marketing. This requires the ability to obtain massive amounts of data and pivot quickly to ever changing customer behavior.

DJ: What are the top drivers for purchase decisions?

Rampuria:A recent Toluna survey found that price was a leading driver for purchase decisions, with 66 percent of respondents ranking it the most important factor. Additionally, twenty percent favored brands they recognized versus 10 percent who opted for new items. Also, important to note that while there is a lot of focus on ecommerce these days, for back to school shopping, plenty of people are still headed in-store to find what they need. Almost half of all shoppers still head to the store themselves to find what they need. Insights are also important for retailers to understand consumer trends in order to prepare for crowds or online activity and market to those shoppers accordingly.

DJ: What influence do students have over purchasing decisions relative to their parents?

Rampuria:Aside from lists that come directly from teachers, there is a big back to school market for other kinds of purchases like clothing, snacks and school accessories. When it comes to these shopping decisions, children are leading the decision making almost half of the time. With the added variables of region to student age, brands need to make strategic decisions on what products to develop, how to package them, and how to advertise if they want to be purchased. From there, retailers need to make those same strategic decisions as they sell those items.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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