Grab Your Pencils. We’re Going Back to School.

Back-to-school Tips & Trends for Affiliate Marketers in 2017

School’s out! But not for much longer. September is just around the bend, retailers are really hoping to top up last year’s biggest sales, and a LOT of store space is being cleared for school supplies and apparel.

Back-to-school is the second largest shopping season of the year, right behind the holiday season and consumers are in full shopping swing for the upcoming year of classrooms, exams, backpacks, and laptops. Approximately 80 million students are to return to school/college this September and this massive number applies for America alone. They will need supplies and clothes.

Each year forecasts a slightly different view of consumer behavior and shopping trends, and if we as marketers want to take advantage of the back-to-school and back-to-college mania, we need to do our homework properly.

For this reason, our team has assembled six back-to-school 2017 tips & trends that will get you one step ahead in being a real class act this season.

1. Start planning today!

Back-to-school shopping is the longest one of all. It usually lasts from mid-July through early-mid September in the United States, Canada, and Europe. However, school supplies are always relevant and sales are very much made all throughout the year.

Parents begin prepping for the best deals as early as May and as late as December. It’s important not to narrow down your focus on the short time frame between July – September as the rest of the school year matters no less.

2. Know Your Customers

Back-to-school consumers are extremely diverse these days. Students of different ages (ranging wider than 18-21), religions, and cultures are occupying the classrooms, and they vary in interests and demands as well as in their reasons for going back to school.

Targeting your audience according to their demographics is just not enough. You need to also consider the why, where, and when behind their purchases.

Which consumers are you going to zoom in on? Students? Parents? Faculty?

Know and understand your target market so you can achieve top-class results.

3. Brick or click – where do consumers shop?

As of always, people are basing their purchases on practical factors like price, convenience and product quality. When it comes to how and where consumers do their shopping, it seems that department stores like Target and Walmart take the lead… for now. Free shipping, however, makes the biggest benefit of online shopping, leading for 45% of consumers to buy products online. It’s a close fight, with one element determining the scale – which offers more items on sale/discount and product quality & durability.

The cost matters a lot to consumers; however, value matters too. When a product remains good to use for longer, color, style and brand matter less.

According to the National Retail Federation annual Back-to-School and Back-to-College surveys, that analyze American families’ consumer behavior:

• 57.1% of consumers plan to do their back-to-school shopping in department stores.
• Most back-to-school and back-to-college shoppers spend their budget on apparel and electronics.
• 9 in 10 back-to-school and back-to-college shoppers take advantage of free shipping.

4. Parents are busy and hooked on their mobile phones

It’s no surprise that parents are even busier during the school holiday. Hustling between one planning to the next on how to keep their kids well occupied is no easy task, but when summer camps begin, parents manage to kill a little time and do their shopping properly.

Thank god for mobile phones.

According to Think with Google, approximately 40% of back-to-school searches were done on mobile devices during last summer’s shopping period, and this year, the mobile share is already topping 50%.

Mobile devices make everything accessible and easy. People are researching, comparing and immediately buying. Price comparisons, inventory availability and store directions are quicker to manipulate, making mobile devices extremely popular.

5. Teachers are a huge spending source – Tap!

The hectic back-to-school shopping season mainly revolves around students and their purchasing needs. Teachers, however, are a powerful spending source which is often poorly tapped by marketers.

According to the National School Supply and Equipment Association, teachers spend over $1.6 billion on personal and school supplies using their own money, especially after the cuts in federal education spending have been made.

Supplies, apparel, accessories, beauty products, computers, and electronics are constantly purchased by teachers before and during the school year, which makes them a strong audience to target.

• Students make up 25% of the population in the United States, from pre-K to college.

• Teachers make up 3.6 billion of the back-to-school shopping population.

6. Timing is everything!

According to NRF surveys, 46.7% consumers plan their back-to-school shopping sprees three weeks to one month before the beginning of the school year. Back-to-college shoppers do the same.

Retailers need to plan accordingly. And so do marketers.

As researchers show, there are 3 main categories for back-to-school spending. Electronics are more coveted during July, followed by office & school supplies and finally clothes & accessories purchases right behind.

Most parents start their office supplies spending during August, right after teachers send out the full supply list.

Finally, apparel is the last category people shop for before and slightly during the school year starts, but rather spend the highest chunk of their budget on, ranging between $200-$250.

Welcome, end of season sales!