The Marketing Corner: School Daze

By Adele Lassere
Adele Lassere
Adele Lassere
September 6, 2015 Updated: September 7, 2015

It’s that time of the year again. Parents are busily getting their children (younger and older) ready for the new school year.

There are a plethora of items that are desirable: the run the gamut from must have clothing/shoes, supplies, and desirable electronics (laptops, smartphones, etc.). In years past, this time frame has stopped short of being like Christmas for retailers. It’s not to minimize the impact or the importance of back to school. But, this time period has become a quasi-predictor of what can be expected from the upcoming holiday shopping season.

Big box retailers and small business owners alike can expect to see flat spending versus last year.

In order to evaluate purchase intent, it’s necessary to evaluate the overall consumer confidence outlook. Below provides a confidence picture as stated by Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board:

“Consumer confidence declined sharply in July (index 90.9), following a gain in June (index 99.8). Consumers continue to assess current conditions favorably, but their short-term expectations deteriorated this month. A less optimistic outlook for the labor market, and perhaps the uncertainty and volatility in financial markets prompted by the situation in Greece and China, appears to have shaken consumers’ confidence. Overall, the Index remains at levels associated with an expanding economy and a relatively confident consumer,” Franco wrote.

It can be surmised that big box retailers and small business owners alike can expect to see flat spending versus last year. Parents are buying many of the same items as in previous years. Nonetheless, there is scrutiny on what is really a necessity and there will not be upgrades just because it is a new school year.

Consequently, expect to see purchases this year being directed to department/specialty retailers plus growth in e-commerce sites. Henceforth, it becomes extremely critical to showcase apparent value and ability to purchase with ease from virtually any device. Remember that consumers are very informed and are fast learners. They know cost will lower as time passes. After all, retailers have taught them this. Other factors to consider:

  • Be relevant and connect with these parents on an emotional level to increase spending potential
  • Offer exclusive events to those frequent shoppers to encourage incremental spending

In today’s marketplace, even the local drug store can be a competitor. So, don’t discount non-traditional retail outlets. Believe this fact because parents are considering all avenues to gain value.

Adele Lassere is a marketing/advertising consultant with 20+ years experience, freelance writer and author of “Elements of Buying” (self-help advertising guide), available at Adele was listed as Black Enterprise’s 2011 Top Execs in Marketing & Advertising and Black Enterprise’s 2013 Top Women Executives in Advertising & Marketing. Contact: