Back To School 2009: A Teachable Moment
According to research on moms' recession spending habits conducted by The Parenting Group's MomConnection panel this April, the top five areas where moms have cut back least reinforce the importance they place on preserving the status quo for their children.
Top five areas moms have cut back least:
- Housing 81%
- Education 76%
- Medical expenses 73%
- Lessons for kids 68%
- Childcare 62%
So when we asked moms about their plans for back to school shopping, we knew that they'd find creative ways to make sure that they could provide kids with what they need to start the school year successfully. To ensure that they're getting the most value for their back-to-school dollars, moms are employing a variety of cost-cutting tactics to save money. The most popular, in order:
- 75% plan to use coupons
- 70% will stock up on school supplies when they're on sale during the summer
- 48% are switching from brand-name items to store-brand or generic products
- 43% are using hand-me-downs instead of buying new clothing for kids
- 42% plan to have their kids re-use last year's backpack
Since the majority of moms reported that their spending levels will remain steady compared to last year, the objective is clear: They want more for their money.
The survey also found a bright spot among moms with children entering pre-K, kindergarten and first grade, who were much less likely to decrease spending on school-year shopping than moms of older children.
Percentage of moms who will decrease spending:
|Moms of |
|Moms of |
|Personal care for kids||9%||14%|
Who's in control?
When asked how much influence children have on their buying decisions in certain categories, moms claimed to have most -- or at least share -- control in all but one category: backpacks. 34% of moms let their children select their own backpacks, while all other product choices are primarily decided by moms. The purchase of computer equipment involved the least amount of input from kids, with 74% reporting that spending in the computer category had no influence from children whatsoever.
Making the most of the moment
Much to moms' dismay, the nag factor during back-to-school shopping is inevitable - but many parents are using these situations as a "teachable moment" to help kids better understand the value of money. Just like the trade-offs that moms are making for the families, they're also helping kids learn to prioritize their own purchases.
If they MUST have a new iPod, they'll have to do without the concert tickets, and so on. And the older the child, the more likely mom is to be discussing the effect of the economy on the family with them. MomConnection's April survey, Retooling the American Dream, showed that 23% of moms are discussing the economic situation with their kids; the number rises to 50% for moms of kids over the age of 6.
The bottom line: Careful choices that aid in stretching dollars will prevail, and the brands that offer moms quality, convenience and value will capture the lion's share of her back-to-school budget this year.