Although Moms plan to spend less overall, category spending differs with a notable bright spot for retailers: online spending. While most 54% of Moms surveyed say they prefer to spend their money in a brick and mortar store, there is a significant increase in the percentage of Moms who will shop online (46%), and they will spend more money with their mouse $98 in 2011 vs. $82 in 2010.
Spending forecasts for supplies, clothing and electronics are lower; however, most parents now have a school supply list that includes cleaning supplies along with pencils, backpacks and paper. As schools struggle with shrinking budgets, parents are expected to fill in the gaps.
Way back in 2001, I recommended to one big box office supply company that it position paper towels and diaper wipes near its school supplies to give moms a one-stop shopping experience. They laughed at me. Literally. I was pleased recently to see paper towels, re-sealable lunch bags and room deodorizers on a display next to pencils in my local big box retailer. Positioning products so that multi-tasking mothers can easily cross items off their list is certain to increase a retailer's share of sales during any shopping season.
Taking into consideration the seasonal behaviors of mothers can help turn even a down buying season into a good one. So let's focus on the good news. The back-to-school season signifies for most moms New Year's Day. The new school year presents a whole new calendar for her that affects nearly every aspect of her life- how much time she has in her day, when she can serve dinner, what she stocks in her fridge for lunches and car snacks and what activities will eat up her afternoons with carpools for the next nine months.
As a marketer, all of this presents ample opportunities to insert yourself or your brand into her new schedule. I applaud the Target Sunday FSI that positioned fitness equipment right next to school supplies. Clearly, someone in the marketing department recognized that just as on Jan. 1, when women everywhere begin new fitness routines, moms are filling their new-found time with a commitment to get into shape while the kids are in class.
Now is the time to take a look at your product and see how you can position it into her New Year's a/k/a New School Year resolutions. Can you help her as she pledges to pack healthier lunches this year? Does your service give her a few more minutes in her day so that she can balance soccer practices with dance recitals? Or can you help her enjoy an income in the few extra hours she might have in the middle of the day?
The bottom line is that you don't have to be a school supply company to enjoy the benefits of the back-to-school season. Mom is planning her strategy for the upcoming year now, and it's time for you to be a part of her ecosystem of solutions.