August 3, 2013 § Leave a comment
What is contributing to this slowdown in back-to-school sales? Some say that last year’s high sales were a response to pent-up demand. Economists say this year’s spending will be slower because shoppers are dealing with more expensive gasoline and higher payroll taxes. But I think there are other factors at work. Here are some contributing trends:
1. As schools move to more year-round calendars, families are shrinking the shopping list for the traditional Back-to-School time period. Finding data on the percentage of year-round schools is difficult. In 2008, the National Center for Education Statistics found 14 percent of U.S. public schools were on year-round calendars, with the largest percentage in the South and West. States are using tax holidays to encourage more back-to-school shopping in the fall.
2. Just-in-time shopping is lingering behavior from the recession. The needs that of each child tend to be spread over the school year, and parents are spreading the spending out to better manage their budgets. Almost half of all working Moms report they will re-use items from last year. Backpacks don’t wear out only in May and tennis shoes are not just needed in August. And coat purchases may wait until the first cold snap. And families are waiting until students get in the classroom to see what school supplies they really need. Retailers are seeing purchases much closer to the time of need. We don’t purchase fall fashions months ahead anymore.
Additionally, trend-savvy teens are spreading out their apparel spending over the year. One factor may be the rise of chains like H&M and Zara, fast fashion retailers that sell inexpensive clothing and are constantly bringing in new inventory to stay on trend. Another is the importance of comparison shopping and late-season clearance sales.
3. Online shopping also fuels just-in-time shopping. This year, Nielsen predicts that 21% of back-to-school shopping will happen online. In 2012, online sales were 7% of total retail spending and 10% of holiday spending, so you can see that back-to-school shopping is a heavy online shopping period. That means that shoppers are comparison shopping and getting those last minute needs online.
4. Smartphones and tablets have become more prolific and do not need to be replaced each year. And prices are going down as competition increases. According to BIGinsight’s study for the NRF, fewer families with children in grades K-12 will purchase electronics (55.7%) this year. Those who are purchasing a new tablet or smartphone are going to spend slightly less than last year ($199.05 vs. $217.88 in 2012).
5. Teen-agers have less to spend on their needs. While we are all so happy that the overall unemployment rate is around 7.4%, there has been no movement in the teen unemployment rate of 23.7%. Why is this important? Teens contribute to the household income in many families, providing for their own needs for school. Some 35% of teens help pay for back-to-school shopping. Over the past ten years, teen employment in a lot of traditional teen sectors, like retail or sales, has actually fallen, while the number of people who are age 55 and older has risen in those sectors. And so we’re just not seeing the types of opportunities for teens that maybe there were in the past.
How should marketers deal with these new trends? Realize that shopping is going to be more year-round. Online and offline shopping need to work together for busy moms. Women will expect new inventory more often and be able to buy it wherever, whenever they want. And maybe we just need to hire a student more often.
The Back to School shopping season is second only to holiday shopping. This year’s sales are expected to total $635 for the average family with school-age children, down from last year’s $689, according to the National Retail Federation.
July 22, 2013 § Leave a comment
Millennials have experienced the stock market and Great Recession making them a bit more risk-averse than prior young generations. Their debt is primarily in credit card bills and student loans. Because of the recession and slow job recovery, we have yet to see how they perform on mortgages and other major loans. According to a study done by Accenture, some 43% of them consider themselves to be conservative investors.
Nearly 9 in 10 Millennials create a budget for themselves, with the majority saving money and paying off debts. In terms of saving money, two-thirds of them save the cash left over from their paychecks and 18% of them pay off debt, according to a study by market research firm Lab42. About half of them, 52%, have student loan debt that averages $37,100 and 45% of them have credit card debt that on average totals $5,448, according to a study released last year by ING Retirement Research Institute.
But less we think they are all work and no play, some 41% of them say that vacations and travel are their most important reasons for saving money.
For more information, see the infographic below:
February 24, 2013 § Leave a comment
One of the lingering effects of the “new normal” is the growth in breadwinner wives. From 2007 to 2011, women’s contribution to household income grew from 44% to 47%. And in some 40% of marriages, the women are the highest wage earners.
“This past recession caused women’s share of earnings to rise even more significantly, with the largest single year increase,” said Kristin Smith, a family demographer at the Carsey Institute and a research assistant professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire.
The trend is strongest among couples where the husband has a lower level of education. Women married to men with a high school degree or less contributed 51% of total family earnings in 2011; those married to men with a college degree contributed 42%.
Men dominated jobs suffered the most in the past recession. From December 2007 to January 2010, America lost 8.7 million jobs, with male-dominated industries, such as construction and manufacturing, suffering the most. Unemployment peaked in October 2009, at 10%, with men’s unemployment at 11.2% and women’s at 8.7%.
As the economy improves, women will tend to stay in their job roles. Many households lost ground in savings, housing values and retirement accounts.
Other gender-related shifts that have taken place in recent years: Colleges are graduating more women than men; women under 30 earn more than their male counterparts in most of America’s largest cities; and women now comprise about half of the workforce.
An unintended cultural effect was found in a 2010 study by Western Washington University where researchers found that when a woman’s contribution to household income tops 60 percent, the couple is more likely to divorce. However, this cultural shift may balance out as the new generation starts their households. The vast majority of young people – about 80% of women and 70% of men across all races, classes, and family backgrounds — desire an egalitarian marriage in which both partners share breadwinning, housekeeping, and child rearing. The data come from Kathleen Gerson‘s fabulous 2010 book, The Unfinished Revolution.
Marketers should be alert to how women are portrayed in advertising because of this new normal. Old stereotypes will not serve a brand well, particularly if women are the primary target.
January 29, 2013 § Leave a comment
Okay, we are the Lipstick Economy, but a little girly news about nail polish won’t hurt anyone. While expanding lipstick sales have been traditionally linked with recessionary periods, nail polish is the new indicator for the 21st Century. According to WWD, polish sales reached $768 million in 2012 in the U.S., which is a gain of 32% over 2011. WWD reports on a survey that claims that 33% of women in the States have at least 25 bottles of polish in their homes.
Why the booming sales? I think we all know why. There are all the colors of the rainbow now available in polish. Gel nails are all the rage and have recently been introduced as home kits. Nail art and decals are part of the personal nail expression. And polishes come in all types of finishes – cracked, sand, matte, high gloss and more.
Nail polish is all about personal expression. And it fits all sizes and ages. It’s also an inexpensive way to follow trends without too much risk. I often see grandmothers, daughters and granddaughters all in a nail salon together discussing the merits of Cajun Shrimp or My Chihuahua Bites. Oh, and the names are part of the experience. It’s cheap fun that lifts your spirits.
OPI always has wacky names and seasonal destination collections that give you and your toes a quick vacation just by polishing. Now that’s a group that understands its brand and its personality. The names are so fun that I hear women talking about them all the time and talking about their favorites. Names like Aphrodite’s Pink Nightie and Lincoln Park After Dark.
Evidently nail art has been big in hipster places like Japan for quite a while. Here in the United States, it’s a small luxury with a big return. After all, we can only see our lipstick when we look in a mirror or see the smudge on our coffee mug, but we see our hands all the time.
Fast Company reports that women are not the only ones that want a little fun. Seems men are getting into the nail obsession. Josh Espley is CEO of Blakk Cosmetics, whose first product,Alphanail, is being billed as “war paint for your fingernails.” (It’s nail polish, but for dudes.)
December 4, 2012 § Leave a comment
Women on average make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. If the gender wage gap were closed and women were paid equitably, it could have unbelievable impact to our economy. This fact should not be too surprising to marketers. The robust economy that we enjoyed from the 1970s through 2000s was fueled by the two-income household which allowed for time-saving appliances, two cars, vacations, larger homes and higher education.
Today, we need a different boost because of the large number of working women. Women are now half of all workers on U.S payrolls, two-thirds of mothers are bringing home at least a quarter of the family’s earnings, and 4 in 10 mothers are either the sole breadwinner (a single, working mother) or are bringing home as much or more than their spouse.
Economist Heidi Hartmann, president of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, estimates that the stimulus effect of wage equality would grow the U.S. economy by at least three to four percentage points. By comparison, the $800 billion economic stimulus package that Congress passed in 2009 to bail banks out of the recession is estimated to have grown the GDP by less than 1.5 percent overall. The growth estimate gets larger if you consider how many women would be drawn into the workforce is wages were increased.
Oh, and don’t forget. Women are more likely to stimulate the economy by spending the additional money we receive. Because women are the chief purchasing officer for their families.
For more information on the gender wage gap, here’s a great infographic created by LearnStuff.com:
December 1, 2012 § Leave a comment
According to the 2012 CMO Survey by the American Marketing Association and Duke University, marketing has been a star rebounder in the recovery. In fact, marketing departments have almost tripled since August 2011.
Because of these many new roles in marketing, the desire has been to have in-house resources for jobs like community managers, customer experience officers, social media directors, analytics and internal communications officers. These jobs require the ability to have intimate knowledge of the brands and be flexible. Inbound marketing has become a real strategy for many marketers that did not even know it existed a few years ago.
Where is your marketing department in this revolution? Are you adding people?
November 8, 2012 § Leave a comment
Who was the winner in the election? Evidently women were! For the first time in history, the nation elected twenty women to the US Senate, including the first Asian-American woman. In spite of the gains on Tuesday night, we might still want something else – a female president. Before the end of President Barack Obama’s acceptance speech, Hillary2016 was trending on Twitter. But what are Moms concerned about post-election? Take a look.
Thanks to Zeno.com, for a post-election snapshot of the mood of moms taken:
- Mood of Mom: Nervous (34%), happy (27%) and indifferent (14%) are how moms categorized their feeling, post-election. One message that topped the list is that moms are relieved that Election 2012 is over.
- Moms Take Issue: Concerns about the economy (61%), jobs (19%) and healthcare (13%) topped moms’ list as the single most important issues facing the country into 2013. However, nearly 3 in 5 moms report that the election will unlikely impact their confidence that their family’s healthcare needs will be met.
- TV Ranked Supreme: Even though election night was the biggest event in Twitter history with a record setting 20 million tweets, moms reported tuning in to television (76%) and traditional news sources to get election news throughout the season.
- Good Morning, Madame President: Could the Clintons return to the White House? 87 percent of those surveyed expect to see a female President during their lifetime. Hillary Clinton topped the list as the most likely candidate to grace the Oval Office.
- It’s Looking Good, Girl: 45% of moms with daughters report that they’re more optimistic about their daughters’ future today than before the election. Only 12% of moms with girls are feeling more pessimistic.
August 24, 2011 § 2 Comments
As I sit here pondering the relative merits of having green nail polish on my nails, I happened across this interesting new tidbit of information from our Great Recession. It seems that nail polish sales soared in 2010, up 13.7 percent over the prior year. Could it be that the Lipstick Index has become the Nail Polish Index?
In 2009, in the midst of the recession, lipstick sales actually declined, while nail polish sales soared. Why is that? Some beauty experts point to a multitude of new product launches, a shift from salon visits to at-home applications and the explosion of new colors on the scene. And it seems that we are buying more of our beauty products in mass merchants, discount stores and through direct sales. Fashion houses have made nail polish couture as well, with knock-offs available at your local Walgreen’s.
Take Katie Dunham, a millennial fashionista, as an example. She has so many bargain nail polishes in every color from purple to green, she needed a professional lucite display to hold them all. A $5 polish is a quick way to boost your spirits and add some fun to outfit.
A competitive jobs market also seems to have brought the need for a professional appearance back into focus. Having well-groomed nails plays a role in projecting a positive image to others. A London study showed three-quarters of women and half of men believe chipped or bitten nails create a bad overall impression.
A historical note on nail polish: It was developed during the Great Depression when women would only wear a faint, translucent pink polish in a “moon manicure” that left the tips of your nail and the nail “moon” unpolished while the middle had a bit of glimmer. Fast forward a couple of years and the Washing Post reported “When the depression struck America, the women’s finger-nails were the first things to go in the red.”
What’s the marketing message? Innovation (think green, yellow, blue and crackled polish), low prices and little luxuries that lift our spirits are more resilient in times of economic downturns. Turns out, we like our lipsticks in pinks and reds, not offering the chance to expand the category. Also, it seems that Revlon went out on limb and spent his entire advertising budget ($335.36) for an ad in The New Yorker to boost sales for his fledgling product. New products need an appropriate media push to succeed.
What are some of the new colors for Fall 2011: Sapphire, copper, grey and iridescent green!