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Back to School Shopping - US - January 2017

Published By :

Mintel

Published Date : Jan 2017

Category :

Lifestyle

No. of Pages : N/A

With planned BTS (back-to-school) shopping reaching almost $76 billion in 2016, the season is a vital opportunity for retailers to connect with young shoppers, build relationships, and introduce new products. While challenges to the BTS market include limited growth in family household incomes and stagnant school enrollment, the vast majority of college students and parents with school-age kids participate in back-to-school shopping. Digitally savvy shoppers have been embracing BTS omni-channel retailing and using a range of traditional and online tools to shape their purchasing choices. Opportunities lie in meeting consumer interest in innovations that can make BTS shopping easier, more efficient, more customized, and more fun.

Table of Content

Overview

What you need to know
Definition

Executive Summary
The issues
Market tends to be cyclical and consumers uncertain in post-election landscape
Figure 1: Total planned US back-to-school (K-12 and college) spending, at current prices, 2011-16
Little growth in school-age population and stagnant enrollment challenges market
The opportunities
Digitally savvy BTS shoppers fuel growth for omnichannel and online retailers
Figure 2: Select retailers used for back-to-school shopping, in-store and online – Parents, October 2016
Figure 3: Select retailers used for back-to-school shopping, online and in-store, college students, October 2016
Many points of entry, as BTS shoppers take into account multiple influencers
Figure 4: Select back-to-school shopping influencers, parents and college students, October 2016
BTS shoppers eager for time-saving innovations, omnichannel features, free shipping
Figure 5: Desired improvements to back-to-school shopping – Parents, October 2016
Figure 6: Desired improvements to back-to-school shopping – College students, October 2016
What it means

The Market – What You Need to Know
2016 BTS market shows strong growth, but this is largely cyclical
BTS shoppers and their kids are increasingly diverse
Digitally engaged generations make up the core of BTS shoppers

Market Size
Planned back-to-school spending grows in 2016, a “stock up” year
Figure 7: Planned back-to-school (K-12) spending, in current dollars, 2011-16
Back-to-college planned spending reaches $48.5 billion in 2016
Figure 8: Planned back-to-college spending, in current dollars, 2011-16

Market Factors
Macroeconomic factors show stronger outlook
Figure 9: Consumer confidence and unemployment, 2000-September 2016
Slow rise in household income and high expenses still squeeze families
Figure 10: Median household income, in inflation-adjusted dollars, 2005-15
Rising costs associated with raising kids also squeeze families
Figure 11: Cost to raise a child from birth to age 18 for middle-income families, by share of expense, 1993 vs 2013
Tight school budgets can mean more is demanded of families
Tax-free holidays support BTS, can shape timing of promotional activity
Population growth among kids, teens, and young adults stagnates
Figure 12: US population under age 24, by age, 2012-22
School enrollment is essentially flat, college enrollment in decline
Figure 13: US school enrollment, 2011-15
More kids, parents, and college students are racially diverse
Figure 14: Population by race and Hispanic origin, 2012-22

Market Perspective
Digitally engaged generations represent growing share of population
Changes and opportunities as schools integrate more technology
Figure 15: Desktop and laptop computer ownership (household), April 2015-June 2016
Online courses may transform landscape of higher education

Key Players – What You Need to Know
Walmart and Target are lead players, building omnichannel presence
Marketing showcases new trends, low prices, and education’s value
Traditional department stores struggle to stay relevant
Amazon is the leading online retailer, and a force of innovation
Customization, “kids for kids” product lines, and easy list fulfilment

What’s Working?
Mass merchants lead with one-stop, high-value, omnichannel appeal
Low prices underpin Walmart’s lead position, while 2016 ads also evoke other themes
Promoting clothing via “cool” looks for kids and deals for “moms”
Figure 16: Macy’s, back-to-school ad featuring dancing in halls, august 2016
Figure 17: Macy’s, back-to-school ad for high school students, august 2016
Parents still want to get it “right” and prize school’s serious purpose
Figure 18: Office Depot OfficeMax, Get Back to Great project TV ad, July 2016

What’s Struggling?
Traditional department stores struggle to stay relevant
Efforts to reinvigorate include partnerships, one-on-one service, and refreshed merchandising
Value-oriented department stores doing comparatively well
Online commerce is a key bright spot for department stores

What’s Next?
Ongoing innovation and growth in online and in omnichannel retail
Optimizing use of individual and aggregate data
Taking a lead from Amazon’s strengths, and innovations
Empowering kids via personalization and “kids for kids” products
Figure 19: Target, Back to School 2016: The Project TV ad, July 2016
Online tools and new apps to make shopping even easier

The Consumer – What You Need to Know
Vast majority of parents and college students engage in BTS shopping
Walmart, Target, and Amazon stand out as top retailers
Clothing leads for K-12 shoppers, supplies for college shoppers
Parents seek balance of price and quality, weigh range of influencers
Free shipping and more time-saving measures widely sought

Participation in Back-to-School Shopping – K-12
Almost all parents do at least some back-to-school shopping
Figure 20: Participation in back-to-school shopping, October 2016
Parents aged 35+ more likely to participate in back-to-school shopping
Figure 21: Participation in back-to-school shopping, by gender and age, October 2016

Participation is fairly high across household income brackets
Figure 22: Participation in back-to-school shopping, by household income, October 2016
Hispanic parents lead BTS shopping for 2016-17 school year
Figure 23: Participation in back-to-school shopping, by race and Hispanic origin, October 2016
Participation in Back-to-School Shopping – College
Virtually all college students make back-to-school purchases
Figure 24: Participation in back-to-school shopping – College students, October 2016
Living situation shifts as students advance through school
Figure 25: Participation in back-to-school shopping, 2016-17 school year – College students, by current living situation, October 2016
Lower-income college students less likely to participate
Figure 26: Participation in back-to-school shopping, 2016-17 school year – College students, by household income, October 2016

Retailers Shopped for Back-to-School Shopping – K-12
Virtually all shop for BTS in stores, three quarters also go online
Figure 27: Retailers shopped for BTS items – K-12, October 2016
Younger parents favor mass merchandisers; dads choose electronics stores
Figure 28: Retailers shopped in-store for BTS items, by gender and age, October 2016
Younger parents, especially dads aged 18-34, favor online shopping
Figure 29: Retailers shopped online for BTS items, by gender and age, October 2016
Less affluent stick to Walmart and dollar stores; wealthier visit a wider range
Figure 30: Retailers shopped in-store for BTS items, by household income, October 2016
Affluent shoppers embrace online retailers
Figure 31: Retailers shopped online for BTS items, by household income, October 2016
Race and Hispanic origin impacts retailer choice for BTS shopping
Figure 32: Retailers shopped in-store for BTS items, by household income, October 2016
Figure 33: Retailers shopped online for BTS items, by race/Hispanic origin, October 2016

Retailers Shopped for Back-to-School Shopping – College
College students show high usage of Target and Amazon
Figure 34: Retailers shopped for BTS items – College students, October 2016
Female college students favor Target, males look to electronics stores
Figure 35: Retailers shopped in-store for college BTS items, by gender, October 2016
Figure 36: Retailers shopped online for college BTS items, by gender, October 2016
Less-affluent college students turn to Walmart; wealthier ones to Target
Figure 37: Retailers shopped in-store for college BTS items, by household income, October 2016

Anticipated Spend by Category – K-12
Clothing is top category for back-to-school spending
Figure 38: Anticipated spend by category – Parents, October 2016
Moms expect to spend on clothes, young dads spend on shoes, gadgets, bags
Figure 39: Anticipated spend by category – K-12, by age and gender, October 2016
Less-affluent parents prioritize clothing and basic supplies
Figure 40: Anticipated spend by category – K-12, by household income, October 2016
Blacks anticipate spending on clothing, footwear; Asians on electronics
Figure 41: Anticipated spend by category – K-12, by race/Hispanic origin, October 2016
Anticipated Spend by Category – College
Supplies, clothing, food, and electronics are priorities for college BTS shopping
Figure 42: Anticipated spend by category – College students, October 2016
Females spend on a wide category range; males focus on electronics
Figure 43: Anticipated spend by category – College students, by gender, October 2016
Less-affluent students spend less on supplies and electronics
Figure 44: Anticipated spend by category – College students, by household income, October 2016

Attitudes toward Back-to-School Shopping
Parents seek to do it “right,” but also to please kids and have fun
Figure 45: Attitudes toward back-to-school shopping – Parents, October 2016
Less-affluent shoppers are more attentive to price, but still want BTS to be fun
Figure 46: Attitudes toward back-to-school shopping – Parents, by household income, October 2016
Older kids have bigger impact on BTS choices
Figure 47: Attitudes toward back-to-school shopping – Parents, by age of child, October 2016
College shoppers reuse items, prioritize price, and set budgets
Figure 48: Attitudes toward back-to-school shopping – College students, October 2016

Back-to-School Shopping Influencers – K-12
School recommendations and brand familiarity are top influencers
Figure 49: Back-to-school shopping influencers – Parents, October 2016
Gender and age impact influencers that guide BTS choices
Figure 50: Back-to-school shopping influencers, part 1 – Parents, by gender and age, October 2016
Figure 51: Back-to-school shopping influencers, part 2 – Parents, by gender and age, October 2016
Household income shapes influencers for BTS shopping
Figure 52: Select influencers on back-to-school shopping (any rank), by household income, October 2016
Online influencers important to Hispanics
Figure 53: Back-to-school shopping influencers – Parents, by race and Hispanic origin, October 2016

Back-to-School Shopping Influencers – College
Brand familiarity and coupons are top influencers in college BTS
Figure 54: Back-to-school shopping influencers – College students, October 2016
Deals motivate college-age women; online influencers shape men
Figure 55: Back-to-school shopping influencers – College students, by gender, October 2016

Desired Improvements to Back-to-School Shopping
Free shipping is widely sought, with time-saving measures also wanted
Figure 56: Desired improvements to back-to-school shopping – Parents, October 2016
Free shipping wanted by over 70% of college BTS shoppers
Figure 57: Desired improvements to back-to-school shopping – College students, October 2016

Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations
Data sources
Sales data
Consumer survey data
Abbreviations and terms
Abbreviations

Appendix – Market
Figure 58: Average household size, by race and Hispanic origin, 2016
Figure 59: Distribution of generations by race and Hispanic origin, 2017
Figure 60: Median household income, by race and Hispanic origin of householder, 2015
Figure 61: Population by generations, 2012-22

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