HRC: Discounter tops with Gen Z for back-to-school shopping
Gen Z shoppers are gearing up to hit the stores for back-to-school purchases — and their top destination is Walmart.
Thirty-six percent of boys and girls cite Walmart as their first choice for back-to-school shopping, more than double that of any other retailer, according to a survey conducted by strategic retail advisory firm HRC Retail Advisory.
Target ranked second (14%), especially among girls, followed by Amazon (12%), led by boys. Department stores and specialty stores didn’t make the list when ranking the top back-to-school shopping destinations.
The survey revealed that the majority of Generation Z shoppers prefer to shop exclusively in-store across all categories. But they have the highest in-store shopping rates when purchasing school supplies (71%) and beauty & personal grooming (62%).
While 30% of respondents leverage both in-store and online shopping, online retailers are more relevant to boys than to girls. Nine percent of boys report they'll shop exclusively online for back-to-school versus just 4% of girls, which highlights the need for retailers to market to these groups differently and distinctly.
*One-quarter of all respondents say they will shop earlier this year compared to last year, boys are almost twice as likely to shop early, particularly those in the 10-13 age group.
Geography also impacts when kids shop ell, with 37% of kids in the South – where the school year starts earlier – to begin shopping in July. But even in the Northeast – where school typically begins after Labor Day – 20% of kids will also begin their shopping in July to capture early deals.
•More than 90% of respondents indicated that discounts are at least somewhat important, while more than a third (37%) say they're extremely important when shopping back-to-school.
•Parents have the strongest influence when purchasing school supplies, technology and beauty & personal grooming. Yet friends’ influence is approaching or outpacing that of parents in most other back-to-school categories.
•For boys, friends’ opinions matter most when choosing athletic clothing (35%) and athletic shoes (31%). For girls, friends’ opinions of accessories (36%) and decorative items (31%) matter most – further highlighting the need for marketing with distinction.
"As Generation Z heads into stores earlier, brick-and-mortar retailers need to be prepared, particularly as this group continues to show distinct preferences, habits and influence over household purchases,” said Farla Efros president of HRC Retail Advisory. “Mass merchant stores like Walmart, for example, will likely see increased traffic from these price-conscious consumers who will be actively seeking deals on their must-have back-to-school items including sneakers, athletic wear and the latest technology.”
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Deloitte: Back-to-college spend to outpace back-to-school sales two-fold
Retailers who fail to promote back-to-college offers and savings this year do so at their own peril.
Families with college students will spend approximately $46 billion this summer, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of the anticipated $72.6 billion on both K-12 and college students, according to Deloitte’s "2017 Back-to-College Survey." More than two-thirds (68%) of parents expect that more than half of their back-to-college spending will be influenced by their students. Nearly 57% students plan to contribute more than half of the budget.
“Back-to-college shopping is prime time for retailers to create fans that can last a decade or more,” said Rod Sides, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and U.S. retail, wholesale and distribution practice leader. “The students appear to have the most influence on what the family buys for back-to-college, so it makes sense for brands to create those loyalists today, and continue to see the payoff beyond the college years.”
Parents and student shoppers alike can’t pass up a good deal: Roughly half of back-to-college shoppers, both parents and students, plan to increase spending both online and in-store if sales tax reductions or tax holiday are offered. Also, 81% of students plan to buy from retailers who offer free shipping.
This year’s survey results showed that channel preferences are shifting are among parents and college students. For both groups, top shopping channels included mass merchants (more than 70% of parents and students), on campus bookstores (roughly two-thirds of parents and students) and online-only retailers (more than half of parents and students).
Mass merchants, fast fashion apparel retailers and off-price stores are likely to realize the greatest increase as a shopping destination. Traditional department stores and specialty clothing stores are expected to plunge as purchase destinations for both parents and students.
In-store still remains the preferred shopping channel of parents and students. Parents expect almost half of their budget will be spent in store while students expect 41% in the same channel. However, students are more likely to shop online (35%) compared to parents (25%).
“The amount people are spending is about the same as last year, but what and where they’re buying may come with a couple of plot twists,” added Sides. “People say they’re buying fewer traditional college supplies in light of digital technologies in the classroom. While people expect most of their purchases to happen in the store, about one-quarter haven’t decided whether they will shop online or in store. At the end of the season, even if the same amount of money funnels into college-related spending, retailers that adjust their timing, experiences and assortment may be the only ones who reap the benefits from it.”
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Study: Loyalty programs need a digital boost
Expensive, ineffective loyalty programs are in need of a makeover.
Retailers that shift to digital-centric programs that engage and promote brand advocacy will retain the loyalty of customers, according to the “Intelligence Report: Loyalty 2017.” The report, from L2, evaluates the successes and pitfalls of loyalty programs for 99 consumer brands across activewear, beauty, big box, department stores, and specialty retail.
"It's no news that in today's oversaturated market brands are struggling to retain the loyalty and attention of customers," explained Mike Froggatt, director of intelligence at L2. "Regardless, the majority of consumers are still dissatisfied with current loyalty offerings, creating an opportunity for brands to build reward structures that add value to core products and services while differentiating the brand.”
Clear communication is imperative for loyalty program success. That’s why 77% of brands mentioned loyalty in the subject of at least one email campaign during May 2017. These brands enjoyed a substantial lift in open rates (from 19% to 24%), but failed to keep the momentum going as only 6% of total brand emails advertised loyalty-related topics in their subject lines during this same period.
Another way to drive success is to automatically enroll customers at account signup (56%). Brands that require additional information to enroll (39%), or place the onus on consumers to complete the signup process deters users, especially when the majority of programs (86%) lack any rewards for completing a profile.
Meanwhile, 35% of brands reward loyalty members for non-transactional engagement, such as incentivizing referrals and reviews, and linking social media accounts. Valuing consumers beyond their wallets provides several benefits. For example, department store brands that reward non-transactional engagement also enjoy 48% more daily site visits, 13% long site visits, and a 5% lower bounce rate, data revealed.
"Properly identifying the value proposition of loyalty programs is key to their success," noted Camilla Opperman, senior associate at L2. "When the value exchange is skewed towards the brand, consumers have little incentive to sign up; when it is skewed towards the consumer, brands bear the burden of expensive loyalty programs with little return on investment."
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