Moms Develop Back To School Strategies

It's that time again when moms flood the aisles of retailers to complete back-to-school shopping. In cities and towns everywhere, moms will be making the annual trek to stores to buy clothes, shoes, backpacks and everything that goes in them. However, according to a recent Marketing to Moms Coalition study, Mom's budget is tighter than last year with an expected decrease in spending per child of 10% for kids 7-12 and 12% for teenagers 13-17 compared to last year.

As spending levels decrease, school volunteering is increasing. More than 90% of moms with kids aged 7-17 say they will have the same or greater involvement in their child's school this year. Many parents want to be involved and help as much as they can. As school systems face cutbacks, moms are stepping up by giving their time to help their children's education.

The research shows that families are still cautious about buying and are sticking to essentials for their kids. Across age brackets, spending on school supplies, electronics like calculators, and school activities will likely remain flat this year, with the biggest cutback coming in clothing. Among Moms of 7-12 year olds, half (50%) say they will spend less than $100 on clothing -- a 10% increase from 2009.



Marketers seem to be appealing to the frugalista side of moms by offering discounts earlier in the season. Many regional and national children's clothing retailers are already offering discounts of 40% or more.

Is there good news for retailers? Of course there is. Even though spending is expected to decrease, the amount of supplies for each child in a household will still average $440. In the average household of two or three children, $880+ is still worth attention.

Retailers can attract Moms to spend that money in their stores by paying attention to shopping habits of Moms, reflected largely in the coalition study:

  • Frugalista Moms are alive and well. These Moms love discounts and deals, and will spread the word on media channels like Twitter, Facebook and, of course, blogs.
  • Offer coupons and discounts that are clear and easy to use. Moms need to get the shopping done fast! It is still summer, after all.
  • Make it easy. Moms will use technology to find the best deals before they leave the house. Whether it's scouring popular coupon blogs, visiting a retailer website, or using mobile phone apps to find the best deals, Moms will save time (especially if kids are in tow) by doing the research first and making specific trips for the best prices.
  • As has been the trend in recent years, moms plan to do most of their shopping in retail stores versus online. Online shopping for back to school has been trending down among moms for the past four years, according to Marketing to Moms Coalition reports.
  • Benefit programs that direct money to schools are more important than ever. The same shrinking household spending is echoed in shrinking school budgets. If a Mom can purchase school supplies that are needed anyway, with a percentage of the total benefitting the school of choice, why wouldn't she choose the store that will donate money to her children's school?
  • On the lighter side, more than 80% of Moms surveyed reported that they will be happy when the first school bell rings this year.

Whether parents cheer or jeer at the end of summer, the retailers who pay attention to these trends, offer money-saving deals and let Moms help their school will gain the business of the household CFO and build valuable brand and store loyalty in the process.

2 comments about "Moms Develop Back To School Strategies".
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  1. Stacey Mathis from Stacey Mathis Copywriting/Consulting, August 3, 2010 at 11:40 p.m.

    And now, what I call “recovery businesses” can benefit from mom’s need to cut back economically. It’s time to get creative; this includes mom and pop brick and mortar shops. For example, computer retailers who also repair computers can have back-to-school promotions for moms with broken computers who may not be in a position to buy a new one right now. Dry cleaners who do alterations, can have back-to-school sales for that mom whose 1st grader who may have to now wear some of her 3rd grader’s clothes. It is not always immediately obvious, but there are opportunities for all types of businesses to make the most of the buying power of mom, especially when she's cutting back. Just think of the back-to-school mom’s situation and figure out how to promote what you offer so that it’s clear to mom that what you do that could provide what she needs and save her money (or the environment) at the same time. And use coupons, because moms hunt for them!

  2. Tim Sullivan from School Family Media, Inc., August 4, 2010 at 4:18 p.m.

    Good stuff, Maria. Think the school connection piece is especially huge these days. The BoxTops for Education program (General Mills) just keeps growing with more brands -- sort of the S&H Green Stamps of the new millenium. And more brands than ever before -- like Kohl's with their current Facebook promotion -- are adding a school-connected element to their marketing efforts. Makes good sense considering that: 1) her kids school is a nearly universal "cause" for all moms; and 2) as you pointed out, these economic times magnify the need of those schools (and therefore the "halo" earned by brands conecting with those schools/through those schools).

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