July 10, 2014 § Leave a comment
Back-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.
The 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 The mall has been replaced by online and teens are constantly shopping for new ideas.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.
4. 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.
June 7, 2014 § 2 Comments
Having the perfect marriage and the nuclear family of two parents, 2.5 kids, and a house in the suburbs is no longer the ideal of many women. There is now a significant portion of women who are not marrying, marrying later, living single, living with a same-sex partner, divorced, or widowed. One-third of all women, or 19 million women, do not have children.
DeVries Global has done research on women in 2014 with a specific focus on “The Otherhood” – women who do not have children by choice or chance. Research shows this is a large group; some 47% of women of the childbearing age in the US do not have kids.
Here are some of the insights about these independent women who are not parents.
1. Well educated and Smart. The research found that 75 percent of women without children had some college or above, compared to 67 percent of women with kids. Additionally, 37 percent have a Bachelor Degree or higher while almost 10 percent have an advanced or professional degree.
2. Social Clout. These women have an extremely large social network consisting of more than 1500 friends and followers across several social media platforms. She spends approximately the same amount of time on social networks as moms (28 hours per week!) but her choices might be less Facebook and more Pinterest.
3. Spending More Per Person. She is spending outspending mom on a per person basis. She is spending double on beauty and personal care and 35% more per person on groceries. She is more likely to shop in a drugstore than a Wal-Mart or Target. She has a monthly budget and she uses coupons. She is slightly more likely to compare prices online.
4. Finding Success, Then Love. The top priorities in her life are career success and love. Oh, and love does not necessarily mean marriage. They rank marriage and having kids well behind finding love. Many want to establish their careers before they consider marriage. It’s more about self-reliance.
Dr. Janet Taylor observes, “Having it all doesn’t just mean you are a working woman who is a mom, having it all means having a life that has meaning and purpose. If you are single and childless, you can still have that.”
5. Loving Children. The study found that children play an active role in the lives of 80 percent of non-moms. And 36% of non-moms are voluntarily without children. When asked if they wanted children of their own, the group had diverse answers. While being an aunt is enough for some, nearly half (46%) of non-moms want to be mothers. Some 18 percent are on undecided. For those undecided or do not want children, giving up their freedom was the number one reason non-moms were hesitant about having children.
6. Free to Travel. Women are living an independent lifestyle, traveling more often and many times alone. Fifty-nine percent say travel is a passion. Non-moms spend 60% more days abroad per year than moms, and those that are in a relationship spend more than twice as much time away with their partner than mom.
7. Happy and Fulfilled. Non-moms can find happiness in rich and intimate friendships, meaningful careers, lives of adventure, and love in different forms. There is no longer a stereotype that having children is the only path – 80 percent of non-moms felt they could lead a happy life without children, whether or not they want children of their own.
How to Reach these Independent Women
• Show her life with authenticity. Don’t focus just on the work component.
• Celebrate her independence, resilience and autonomy.
• Recognize her influence online and her taste.
• Look for opportunities to market to her like solo travel experiences.
• Segment her psychographic group as a target audience, looking at her buying habits and needs.
May 17, 2014 § 2 Comments
New research shows that female CEOs and senior executive women like Jill Abramson are more likely to be abruptly fired, thrown off the “glass cliff”, than men. Researchers at Strategy& have released a report that found that women are forced out of chief executive positions more than a third of the time, while only a quarter of men in similar positions experience the same fate. Oh, by the way, women only represent about 3% of new CEOs.
An illustration of this phenomenon could be the recent unceremonious departure of Jill Abramson as executive editor of The New York Times. Reporters everywhere are trying to get to the bottom of the story. Is this a story of classic gender discrepancy where men are seen as strong, driven, and effective leaders while women are seen as churlish, pushy and bossy? Was she a victim of the “glass cliff theory” where companies promote women to power in times of corporate crisis and then see their “management styles” as ineffective? Doing your job may not always be enough. During Abramson’s tenure, the New York Times won eight Pulitzer prizes, signups for digital increased, and the company stock doubled.
What does research show?
Women are more often hired from outside the company and women are more often forced out of the office (38% women vs. 27% men). Many of these companies still lack enough female senior executives below the CEO level who can move up to a CEO position. Companies hiring female executives from outside are also likely to be less tolerant of shortcomings than they are with executives groomed in-house. And external CEOs are seven times more likely to be dismissed after a short tenure. What happens after a female CEO is fired? The boardrooms fall back into traditional behavior - they hire white men with experience.
Should we “Ban Bossy”?
Sheryl Sandberg and the Girl Scouts agree on one thing – We should “Ban Bossy”. The word bossy can discourage women from seeking leadership positions. In one of Sandberg’s anti-bossy spots, celebrity Beyoncé proclaims, “I’m not bossy. I’m the boss.” According to the Girl Scouts Ban Bossy National Youth Poll 2014, more than a third of girls who are called “bossy” lose interest in leading and stop making decisions or suggestions.
While women are increasing the top levels of management, there is still a long way to go. The proportion of women in the CEO position has doubled to nearly 4% in the past five years and could rise to 33% by 2040. But old habits, the gender norms of corporate leadership, remain hard to change.
May 13, 2014 § 1 Comment
As I was munching on my McDonald’s salad at my desk today, I started wondering about the fate of lunch in America. I certainly don’t seem to break for lunch as often as I used to. In fact, the phrase lunch hour is even misleading. In a recent study , 48% of employees say that the typical lunch break is 30 minutes or less. And in another study by Staples, 19% of employees say they don’t stop for lunch at all. In 2010, Monster found that more than 20 percent of workers say they always eat lunch at their desks.
The lunch “break” has turned into a time for errands, online shopping, more work and maybe a quick bite. Here are some of the reasons behind these trends.
• The recession spawned a cutback in personal and business spending. And currently the IRS only allows 50% of entertainment expenses. With a focus on productivity, some employees feel pressure to work more and don’t feel they have time for lunch.
• Working women have a lot of tasks to accomplish. Any given day may include errands, online shopping, haircuts and a quick bite. Working moms are 13% more likely to have spent $2500+ on internet purchases, 10% more likely to do their banking online and they own almost every mobile device technology that allows them to shop.
• Lunch hour shopping trends show 84% of moms shop 15 minutes or more a day at work. And most of that shopping happens between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Some 43% of female workers say they did their holiday shopping online while at work, compared to only 35% of male workers. Not surprisingly, 21% of back to school shopping happens online. Woman shoppers use the time as a welcome break from their office routine and would rather shop online than go to a mall.
Some categories have benefitted from this trend. Certainly online shopping of all kinds has prospered. Retailers see rising traffic during the 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. period and some are creating two-hour “stop, drop and shop” promotions during that lunch window. Grocery stores have embraced the trend with more “grab and go” lunch foods. According to market researcher NPD Group, grocers have seen their lunchtime purchases of prepared food like sandwiches and salads jump by 28% since 2008. And fast casual restaurants like Panera and Chipotle provide high quality food options with a lower time commitment. There is also a trend to wanting snacks at all times to tide workers over to dinner time.
In the world of advertising and marketing, the three martini lunches were legend. Gerald Ford said, “The three-martini lunch is the epitome of American efficiency. Where else can you get an earful, a bellyful and a snootful at the same time?” While some still remember those long lost “Mad Men” three martini lunches fondly, in retrospect, they seem indulgent and luxurious. Time might have been the true luxury. Maybe those lunches were not very productive, but they did provide opportunity for marketers and clients to know each other better. Maybe we have traded the martini for the macchiato, but that coffee with a client might be a great time to really talk, listen to each other and share ideas freely. Cheers!
April 21, 2014 § Leave a comment
Stories are the playbook for life. Stories are the way we teach, the way we communicate, the way we entertain, and the way we impart value. Some marketers have known the value of story for many years. Researchers tell us that a story is the only way to activate parts of the brain so that a listener turns the story into their own idea and experience. Those of us who know the iconic J. Peterman catalogues read them for the mesmerizing value of their stories about where their exotic products were discovered and the effect of wearing their products.
Recently, as a literary & anthropological experiment, Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn decided to see if they could resell cheap knickknacks (avg. cost $1.25) on eBay and turn a significant profit by adding personal stories to the item descriptions. Their hypothesis was that creative stories would increase the perceived value of each object and create an incremental profit on each item sold. With the addition of colorful anecdotes, their $129 purchase of thrift store items was sold for nearly $8,000.
The Harvard Business Review reminded us of the power of the story as told by Kurt Vonnegut. It seems that Vonnegut devoted his master’s thesis at the University of Chicago to studying the shapes of stories. Vonnegut not only exhibits a great understanding of story, but is an entertaining storyteller. He tells us there are basically three types of stories that we humans find irresistible. The three stories are Boy Gets Girl, Man in Hole and Cinderella. He tells his audience that the Cinderella story is “the most popular story in our Western civilization. Every time it’s retold somebody makes another million dollars. You’re welcome to do it.”
What you see in this short film is the endless fascination that the human mind has for story. As marketers, we need to be students of Vonnegut and the story, and make all our marketing a powerful story for consumers.
April 16, 2014 § Leave a comment
I just returned from the LA Festival of Books and on my plane trip home, as I juggled between my iPad and a paperback, I wondered about the future of reading. Some think we are in a transition as disruptive as Gutenberg’s printing presses more than 500 years ago. In fact, some in Silicon Valley think Gutenberg was the first technology geek and call him their patron saint.
The Facts, Please!
Women contributed to 58% of book purchases in 2012, up from 55% in 2011.
According to Pew Research, more than 50% of Americans now have some type of handheld device–either a tablet computer like an iPad, or an e-reader such as a Kindle– for reading e-content. That number is up from 43% of adults who had either of those devices in September 2013, so adoption is growing.
Some 76% of all adults have read a book in the past year, but 82% of women have read a book in the past year. The typical adult read or listened to five books during the year but the median number of books read by women was 14 books. Those who read books on an e-reader tend to be more female, while gender is fairly evenly split on iPad book readership. The amount we read has stayed fairly level the past few years.
But here’s an interesting statistic. The majority of those reading e-readers still read print books as well. Among adults who read at least one book in the past year, just 5% said they read an e-book in the last year without also reading a print book.
Sure, publishing is changing. Bookstores have become curated collections, not mass marketers, and writers are unchained and able to post their own books to Amazon. But as I walked through the LA Festival of Books and saw and heard people lovingly hold and share their books and heard authors speak of their inspirations, I realized that story is still alive and well. And that is the future of reading.