Five Things to Know About 2014 Back-to-School Marketing

July 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

UnknownBack-to-school is in full swing now.  The traditional back-to-school season has changed and marketers need to make note.  The reason for many of these changes are year-round school schedules, just-in-time shopping, online shopping habits and budgets.  The back-to-school season has become more of a pinnacle of an ongoing activity than a confined season.

How big is back-to-school?  The average family will spend $670 on shopping this year, up 5% from 2013 according to the National Retail Federation.   However, 21% of families with children in elementary, middle school or high school reported in a NRF survey they will spend less this year.

Did you know?  Combined school and college spending was estimated at $72.5 billion, making it the second-biggest season for retailers. Winter holiday ranks first at $84 billion and Mother’s Day comes in at third at $21 billion.

Here are five things to know about this year.

1.  Back-to-school shopping starts in July.  Americans began their search as early as June last year.  Google conducted a study during the 2013 season and found that 23% of respondents began back-to-school research before July 4, with nearly two-thirds (65%) starting by the end of July. In contrast, only 35% said they made a purchase by the end of July.  174621

BTS-Content-ConsumptionThe spending is spread out over several months, with traditional spending in August and September.  The early shoppers take advantage fresh merchandise, early bird sales and comparison shopping, while the later shoppers are necessity shopping and maybe taking advantage of end-of-season sales.

One difference in the early and traditional shopper may be their form of shopping.  The early shoppers are using their desktop and tablets to shop, while the more traditional are using mobile devices and shopping in-store.

During back-to-school 2013, competitive pricing was the top use of mobile, with 66 percent of shoppers planning to use their smartphones to obtain price information and 60 percent to obtain discounts, coupons, or sale information–up 15 percentage points from 2012.  There is a whopping 78% of smartphone owners using their mobile devices for shopping.

2.  Just in time shopping.   The mall has been replaced by online and teens are constantly shopping for new ideas.  The world of disposable fashion has lead teens to take advantage of affordable retailers and wait to see what their friends are wearing.  Digital-native students are shopping constantly throughout the year, even if they’re not buying.

Just-in-time shopping also shows that as many as 50% parents only buy what is essential for back to school and then buy additional needs during the holiday season, when they expect the best deals.  It is a way of spreading out the shopping expense to make it more manageable for their budget.  And parents are saving money by buying store-brand items, shopping sales and using coupons.

3. Online is #3 destination.   eMarketer forecasts that digital sales for the back-to-school season will increase 16.0% in 2014.  One-third of all back-to-school shoppers will make an online purchase, and 45% of back-to-college shoppers will head online.  According to Deloitte, among top back-to-school shopping destinations in 2013, 36 percent of consumers shopped online, moving online shopping to the third destination behind discount and office supply/technology stores, a significant jump from the No. 8 position in 2012.

9754-1652-140701-Back_to_School-l4.  College Online Spending Big.  More than $3 of every $5 aimed at back-to-school clothes and supplies is spent on college-bound students.   A PM Digital report shows online shoppers stealing 37% of this market as the online college segment spends over $1,100 per family.  In fact, shopping expenditures are higher online – with 37.3% K-12 and 37.1% college students buying through e-commerce.

5.  Smartphone Tool for Shopping.  During back-to-school 2013, competitive pricing was the top use of mobile, with 66 percent of shoppers planning to use their smartphones to obtain price information and 60 percent to obtain discounts, coupons, or sale information–up 15 percentage points from 2012. There is a whopping 78% of smartphone owners using their mobile devices for shopping.

What should marketers do this season?

1.  Make sure your campaigns are live now and active through September.  To stand out, thing about using video and consumer stories to help tell the story.  Search should be already in place.

2.  Make sure content is available on tablet and mobile.  Don’t forget social. Hashtags like #stapleshasit and L.L.Bean’s #packmentality, which leapt from social media into display, email and print last season, will proliferate in 2014.

3.  Solicit stories from your customers to drive positive reviews.

4.  Time your sales (early-bird and end of season) to match buying periods.

5.  Differentiate between back-to-school and back-to-college.

 

 

Holiday Marketing to Women: 43% of Women Shop Online at Work

December 10, 2013 § 1 Comment

Christmas Video ChatWomen are the holiday multi-taskers so it’s no surprise that 43% of female workers say they have holiday shopped online while at work, according to the new CareerBuilder CyberMonday study.  Jennifer Sullivan Grasz from CareerBuilder reports only 35% of male workers are also holiday shopping online.

CyberMonday shoppers work too!

Over half (54 percent) of all workers expect to be shopping online for the holidays.  Many of those will be planning to spend the time during lunch or during breaks.  The survey finds that one in five workers will spend between one and three hours browsing Internet deals from the office over the course of the holiday season and 10 percent will spend 3 hours or more; a quarter report just planning to spend an hour or less.

Back in 2010, we reported on a similar study that found that 40% of female workers 18-54 said they shopped online, and a whopping 84% of moms said they spent 15 minutes or more daily shopping.  And emails were a definite trigger for with 60% responding to email offers.

Workers are responding to lots of holiday emails.

No wonder we are responding to emails.   Some 28 percent of all emails are sent during the holiday season.  In fact, every brand is sending consumers an average of six emails, up from five last year.  Experian says that email accounts for nearly 3 percent of website visits (ahead of social) and higher conversions (3.58 percent) than search (2.49 percent) and social (.71 percent) combined. Oh, and don’t forget –  half of all emails are now read on mobile devices.

Email tips for marketers.

For marketers, we need to take all of this in consideration and start planning early.  Some of the important considerations are:

1.  Test emails and offers for effectiveness.

2.  Test timing of emails.  Weekends versus weekdays may yield different results.  By the way, half of all working women do their shopping between 11 am and 2 pm.

3.  Make sure your subject lines are appealing and stand out to your consumers.  Subject lines are where most people make a decision to unsubscribe.

4.  Help your customer with gift guides.  According to Experian, gift guide emails experience 48% higher transaction rates than normal promotion emails.

4.  Look for new ways to build your list and reach new people.

5.  Be more personal. Address your customer by name or tailor the message to your geography, weather or preferences.

6.  Use re-targeting and abandoned cart messages.

7.  Make sure you are optimized for mobile.

The CareerBuilder survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive© on behalf of CareerBuilder among 3,484 U.S. workers and 2,099 hiring managers and human resource professionals (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) between August 13 and September 6, 2013.

Holiday Marketing to Women: Online Shopping Rules!

November 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

wanders_target_bullseyeThe stores are already decked in Christmas decorations.  Santa has shown up in some malls.  The holiday television spots have started.  And retailers are planning moving up the selling season from Black Friday to Thanksgiving Day.  The holiday reports point to a holiday shopping season that will start online and continue in full force through December.

 eMarketer says the US holiday season online retail commerce spending will be up 15.1% over last year and will reach $61.8 billion.  November and December spending will account for nearly one-fourth of all retail ecommerce spending for 2013.  Total holiday sales are expected to top $602 billion, up 3.9% from last year.

Deloitte‘s annual report shows that 47% of internet users expect to shop online this holiday season and 38% of respondents said they would spend at least half of their budgets online.  Where are they shopping if they are not online:  some 44% said they would shop at a discount or value department store, 28% planned to shop at a traditional department store, and 21% anticipated going to an electronics, office supply or computer store.

The National Federation of Retailers says that online holiday shoppers expect to spend 20 percent more than other shoppers.  The online shoppers expect to spend a net average $884.55 on gifts, decorations, food and more this holiday season, compared with an average $737.95 among all holiday shoppers.

The Google 2013 Holiday Shopping Intentions Study reports that  64% of women, compared with 56% of men, are more likely than men to start shopping early and purchase on the big days.  But some 41% will still be shopping in December.

And shopping has already started.  More than 40 percent of holiday shoppers said they started their shopping in October or before.   Two-thirds of online holiday shoppers started early to help spread out their budget. Another half want to avoid the stress of last-minute shopping and the crowds.  This holiday season will continue to highlight the importance of  smartphones and tablets in shopping.  Shoppers will use them to research products, compare prices, look up retailer information, and redeem coupons.

Value will continue to be important.  Many say they are focusing on what they need and will be making practical purchases this year.  Google finds that 81% of shoppers will rely on discounts, 76% will take advantage of free shipping, and 60% will act on purchase incentives.

Marketing to Women: The Mobile Shopping Love Affair

September 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

We can no longer separate the female shopper from her shopping tool of choice – the smartphone and the tablet.  Retailers should understand that the love affair of women and their mobile devices is deep and growing.  In fact,  57% of women would rather give up sex than give up their smartphone for seven days.

woman-smartphone-app-horiz

Who is the Mobile Shopper?

The mobile shopper is divided equally between men and women but women are more likely to use their devices for physical purchases.  Mobile shoppers tend to skew younger. The majority (57%) are under 45 years old and make up a growing share of mobile shoppers, and 34 percent are under 34 years old.

Nielsen says that both men and women participate in shopping but women are the dominant shopper in every retailer category except convenience stores.  Women drive the larger shopping trips outspending males by $14.31 per trip in supercenters and by $10.32 per trip in grocery stores.

Women Shop Mobile At Home

We are using our devices most frequently at home, according to Nielsen.   More than two-thirds of smartphone shoppers and four-out-of-five tablet shoppers are shopping at home—sometimes while watching TV.   Tablet owners are more likely to be doing research on purchases (59%) and are more likely to purchase physical items (38%) than smartphone shoppers (24%).

Women Shop Mobile In-Store

Smartphones are necessary shopping outside the home.  The are the in-store device of choice for most.  While on the way to the store, 70 percent of smartphone shoppers use a store locator to plan their shopping trip.  Once inside the store, 37 percent stay organized using lists while shopping on their phones.    We use our devices to check prices, and the majority of smartphone (63%) and tablet (53%) owners then use search and scanners to determine price and deals.  At the checkout lane, smartphone shoppers then are more likely to use their devices for mobile coupons (34%) and for payment (23%).

Women Continue After the Shopping Experience

After we finish our shopping, we pick up our tablets to track and share our shopping experience. Some 20 percent write comments on social media and 16 percent use their tablets to write reviews of their purchases.  For the at-home mobile shopper, the majority of smartphone (55%) and tablet (52%) shoppers are using their devices to track the progress of their online orders.

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Marketing to Women: 79% Trust Online Reviews As Much As Personal Recommendations

July 1, 2013 § 2 Comments

imagesA new study from BrightLocal shows that consumers are increasingly trusting online reviews for local purchases.  In fact, 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.  Only one in five consumers say they do not trust online recommendations.

Our research at Brand Wise has shown similar patterns in shopping behavior.  Most shopping starts online – whether the purchase is happening online or in-store.  BrightLocal found that 37% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the past month.  The top searches are for restaurants (67% of consumers), doctors/dentists (35%), general shopping (35%), hotel accommodations (30%) and clothes (28%).

And with a growth in online reviews, consumers can make decisions in advance before making their purchase.  In fact, 85% of consumers say they have read online reviews for for local businesses, up from 76% in 2012.  And of course, consumers say positive reviews raise their level of trust in the business, and their likelihood to use the business.

What are consumers looking to find in a customer review? When it comes to “reputation traits,” 71% chose reliability as the most important trait in a local business (up from 64%), while 45% pointed to good value.

While we trust online reviews, we are still using word of mouth as our personal way of informing friends and relatives.  During the prior 12 months, 72% of consumers reported having recommended a local business by word of mouth (down from 78% last year), while 37% did so on Facebook (up from 32%).

Those who are marketing to women need to embrace reviews the way consumers have, providing ways for consumers to write reviews for your services, whether it is on your website or on review sites.  Since much of that research is happening on smartphones, businesses need to have a clear, easy-to-read mobile site. And it is important to engage consumers on-line and respond to all comments, whether positive or negative.

Marketing to Women: Shopability and Mobile Research

June 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

best-iphone-shopping-apps-4I just like to say “Shopability”!  But retailers today need to be able to say it and do it.  All retailers need shopability to compete in today’s mobile world.  Technology advances are changing shopping behavior at lighting speed. With the democratization of information and the multitude of shopping venues online and offline, retailers must be much more engaged with consumers.

eMarketer reports e-commerce sales in the U.S. were at an impressive $225.5 billion in 2012, and they are on track to reach a staggering $434.2 billion by 2017.

Mobile is so important to today’s retail activity.  According to findings in the 2013 Mobile Path-to-Purchase study, fifty percent of respondents said they use their mobile devices to start the search process; 46 percent use mobile exclusively when performing research online.   Even Google noted last year that 65 percent of online searches began on a smartphone.

Screen-Shot-2013-05-22-at-5.34.42-AM-600x246The study also shows one out of every three respondents use a mobile device throughout the entire purchase process. Sixty percent of smartphone users across the categories examined in the study – banking/finance, gas/convenience, insurance and retail in the U.S. – completed purchases related to their mobile activity.  And 57% of smartphone users go directly to the brand’s app or website.

Think this is only for big brands? Think again.  Mobile research for local is BIG.  Sixty percent of consumers expect a business to be within walking or local driving distance from their current location. One out of every three smartphone users search for a business’s contact information.

What does all that research add up to?  Seventy-four percent of smartphone related purchases are completed offline in-store, and 54% of tablet related purchases are completed online through personal computer or mobile device.

For today’s shoppers, you have to be able to navigate these surfing habits and ensure no bad research, shopping or purchase experiences.  Irrelevant content, slow-loading sites, poor search, and lack of engagement lead to no purchase, and even worse, no future visits.

Marketing Travel to Women: Get Smart About Apps

April 25, 2013 § 1 Comment

travel-appsIt is becoming hard to say travel without talking about mobile devices today.  By 2014, smartphones and tablets are on track to capture nearly one in five travel dollars. And those who are marketing travel to women should take note of some of the opportunities and challenges.

Travel Decisions Made by Women

Some 80% of all travel decisions are made by women and 40% of travel is planned using a mobile device.  The tablet is the preferred device for planning travel and the smartphone is the choice for booking trips while on the go.  In fact, three-quarters (76%) of us reach for the smartphone when booking travel on the go.

Poor Mobile Experiences

So you know the drill – you are traveling and something happens to cause you to change your airline reservations.  You go to your handy app.   But you have a hard time loading the information, it gets confusing and then, you just call the airlines or the hotel or the car rental or the restaurant because it was a hassle figuring it out on that handy app.  It’s happened to me before – and apparently, lots of others.  A ResearchNow study released by Mobiquity shows the top negatives:

  • 60% of smartphone owners, 52% of tablet owners found mobile travel sites slow to load
  • 51% of tablet owners rated search and selection options on travel apps as complicated
  • 20% of tablet owners were disappointed the apps were not integrated with their loyalty programs

Poor mobile experiences can cause travelers to take an alternative course and could result in decreased revenue for travel brands.  More than a third (35%) of connected travelers would be less likely to book again with the travel brand after a slow, confusing of non-optimized experience when research or booking travel on a mobile device.  Some of the issues in addition to slow load time are  complicated search and selection, poor navigation, not linked to loyalty programs or not designed.

Top Mobile Travel Apps

The top mobile websites mostly include airlines and travel aggregators, such as TripAdvisor and Priceline.com.  Of the 8% of iPhone users that use travel apps, the top airline apps are:

United Airlines  (1.6%)
Southwest Airlines (1.5%)
Fly Delta (1.3%)
American Airlines (1.3%)
JetBlue (0.5%)

Some of the other popular apps for travel are included in the following infographic:

onavo-data-eating-booking-data

http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/198843/travelers-expect-more-from-mobile-on-the-road.html?edition=59193#ixzz2RWRst23x

Marketing to Women: Mobile Advertising Yet?

April 23, 2013 § 1 Comment

Smartphones now comprise 57% of the mobile market in the United States.  By next year, there will be more mobile devices than there are people in the world and more mobile phones than desktop PCs.

mobile-adsWith all that mobile action, why then is mobile advertising not growing as fast as smartphone adoption?  According to IAB, some 53% of agencies say they don’t have experience in mobile advertising.  And 70% say they would purchase more if clients understood it better.  Translation:  Agencies and clients need to go to school on mobile.

The Google Factor

mobileimage2So here’s a tip for all the late adopters:  Mobile ads work!  Or at least that’s what Google says.  Mobile ads appear to be the most effective paid method of driving page likes, and Google reports that smartphone users are unusually responsive to advertising. Forty-two percent of users click on mobile ads they like, found the Mobile Movement: Understanding Smartphone Users survey. Of those, 49 percent go on to make a purchase, while 35 percent visit the advertiser’s site, and 27 percent call the business in question.  A lot of that clicking is on local sites;  95% of people look for local info on their smartphone.

All that smartphone usage leads to smartphone shopping. While strolling the aisles, 49% of us compare prices, 44 percent read reviews of stuff while we shop, and 34 percent are using their phones to check the store’s inventory.

Gender differences in shopping:  In a new study by Millennial Media and comScore, findings show men are more likely to use phones to check product availability, compare prices, find deals or make online purchases. Women are more likely than men to use phones in stores to text or call friends about products, send pictures of products, or research product features.

Mobile-Optimized Sites and Apps Necessary

Those that will win in mobile will have sites that are responsive and won’t have roadblocks like Flash.  I was working with a client recently, and I tried to view her website on my iPad.  Because her site was built in Flash, it was not at all accessible on any Apple devices.

Right now, people spend more time on apps than mobile websites.  Tablets seem to be the online shopping tool of choice.  Important features include side-by-side product comparison, 360-degree zoom, customer ratings, and an easy checkout process are most important to shoppers.

So let’s go mobile!

Marketing to Women: In 2016 44% of Retail Sales Impacted by Web

April 15, 2013 § 1 Comment

iStock_000018760804SmallWhether we buy online or research online, all retail is going to be impacted by online activity.  Not ten years from now, but just a couple of years from now.  How can that be, you ask, when only 5.4% of retail sales were reported as e-commerce in the fourth quarter of 2012?

Well, here’s the news bulletin.  While online retail sales are a smaller portion, many of today’s sales are web-influenced.  In fact, 70% of consumers research online before they make an in-store purchase.  And the average shopper may be using 10.4 sources of information to make a purchase decision.   Social media and mobile continue to become important  influencers in this shopping behavior.

Moms continue to be the heavy shoppers and one-third of all moms own a connected device.  Moms spend 6.1 hours per day on average on their smartphones – that’s more than magazines, TV or radio.   62% use shopping apps and 46% took action after seeing a mobile ad.  Mobile usage is growing among moms.  It’s  40% higher today than in 2009 for these mobile moms.  The statistics for moms shopping on tablets are off the charts – 97% made a purchase using their tablet in the last month.  And 46% actually want to receive information while they are in a store.

Warning to Retailers:  many retailers have been shown to be slow to adapt, and are without tablet websites or iPad sites.  When you don’t keep up, you are giving the competition the edge and giving iPad shopping startups a shot, like Pickie or Fab.com or others.

For more statistics on shopping, read more here.

Marketing to Women: Women Still Dominate Retail Shopping

April 13, 2013 § 1 Comment

A new report from Nielsen confirms that women still control the spending power in the US.  Some people estimate that we control $5-15 trillion annually.  Now, I know that saying women still dominate retail shopping is like saying that it still snows at the North Pole, but there are some shifts going on that are interesting.

The report points out that men are taking a more active role in the shopping process than they have in the past. Woo-hoo!  Between 2004 and 2012, U.S. women reduced the number of trips they made across most retail channels, while men increased their visits to all outlets except grocery and drug stores.

1364480712730However women are still spending more money per trip than men in all shopping channels.  Women drive the larger stock-up or planned trips and outspend males by $14.31 per trip in supercenters and by $10.32 per trip in grocery stores.

So basically, women are still doing the majority of shopping, but the data tends to suggest that men are beginning to assume more shopping duties beyond the trip to the convenience store for beer and chips.

Talking to the female shopper is more important than ever.  So those  at Nielsen are concerned, like we are, about the emotional and rational content of marketing and advertising messages.

Women remember more and differently than men do, so talk to both her emotional and rational sides and acknowledge her attention to detail. Layering emotional decision-making opportunities with rational information will increase purchase intent and will have strong “sticking” power. According to Nielsen NeuroFocus, the female brain is programmed to maintain social harmony, so messaging should be positive and not focus on negative comparisons or associations.

In other words, women form value opinions based on both emotional and rational reasons to buy.  That’s why the Darth Vader spot for Volkswagen was a game changer.  It spoke to both men and women about the special moments of family life yet focused on a buying feature of the car.  And yes, women are the buyers of most cars too.

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