Two Back to School shopping trends to watch for this holiday season

September 9, 2013 by Experian Marketing Services

Back to School data is a key indicator for the upcoming holiday season, according to Experian Marketing Services’ head of global research, Bill Tancer. According to Tancer, retailers need  to market to the consumer and not the channel this holiday season as the “Always On Consumer,” or the consumer that uses multiple marketing channels to find the best deals and prices throughout the day, continues to define and drive shopping behavior.  As the second-largest consumer spending season winds down, Tancer sees two primary Back to School trends that marketers and retailers can expect to continue throughout the 2013 holiday season:

1. Shoppers are looking for deals

Shoppers are looking for the best possible price before they buy this Back to School season. Online retail and browsing data from the final weeks of Back to School show that significant growth year-over-year in Internet searches for value qualifiers including “cheap,” “coupon” and “sale” with search terms about Back to School. Further, email offers with coupons had the highest unique click rate and those offering discounts had the highest unique open rate.

2. Retailers are extending the shopping seasons with earlier promotions, but expect shoppers to wait

Marketers are increasing their communications to consumers earlier in the shopping season, a strategy that started during the recent economic recession and continues today. Back to School started early this year with retailers distributing Back to School email promotions earlier than ever, but the percentage of Back to School email revenue continues to increase within the month of August, from 41% in 2011 to 54% in 2012, and not before. Shoppers are delaying their purchases to later in the season, even beyond the Labor Day weekend. Students, for example, want to wait to see what the other kids are wearing before buying, with Internet searches for “Back to School outfits” emerging as the third most popular search term last week. The increase of “delayed shopping” is a carry-over trend from the 2012 holiday shopping season. Expect Black Friday 2013 to be a weeklong-event again this year, if not longer. We call it Peak Week, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, because it is a crucial time for marketers and shoppers alike. Also, we could see an even greater delay of big ticket items this holiday season as more consumers look for the best price and the steepest discount.

For more insights and holiday trends, register for Experian Marketing Services’ October 24th holiday webinar, moderated by Tancer.