For Back-to-College Crowd, Macy's, Target Tap Vid Love

With the new year on campus beckoning, retailers are experimenting with different ways to connect with young Millennials. Macy’s is running a $50,000 video contest, inviting schools to submit a remix of the classic “Be True to Your School.” And Target is going the video route, too, enlisting four YouTube stars for a design challenge that also aims to provide tips for spiffing up dorm and off-campus spaces. 

The stakes for back-to-college are high: The National Retail Federation says that college students and their parents are the “golden geese” of back-to-school spending, shelling out an average of $916.48 this year, compared with $836.83 last year. And it predicts total college spending to hit $48.4 billion. (By comparison, it forecasts that parents of kids K through 12 will spend $669.28 this year.)



Macy’s September events, besides the video contests, which asks them to send in a one-take lip-dub video, also includes its first foray into campus shuttle services. Buses will ferry students to shopping parties at Macy’s, where they will be wooed with DJs, mini-manicures, makeovers and apparel, as well as 25% discounts.

And Target, which has long provided campus bus services for back-to-college events, says it is pairing Veronica Valencia, founder of Design Hunter L.A., with YouTube stars Todrick HallMikey BoltsTiffany Garcia and Ann Le for a four-episode design challenge.

The Minneapolis-based retailer, meanwhile, continues to hold an early edge over many chains, and has hung on to its top-tier status in the back-to-school race, reports YouGov BrandIndex, which tracks consumer perception of brands and measures purchase consideration. “Old Navy, Walmart and Target take up the top tier, but Target has been on shaky ground in July,” says a YouGov spokesman in an email. “All three also have the highest ad awareness in the entire back to school sector. But the percentage of parents who say they might consider buying from Target has dropped from 54% to 45% in the past four weeks.”

Macy’s, as well as J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, Sears, Marshall’s, and Kmart and along with Forever 21, H&M, American Eagle, Charlotte Russe and Aeropostale, make up the middle tier. And stores catering exclusively to teens, as well as luxury brands, are in the lowest tier, as ranked by purchase consideration. Abercrombie & Fitch came in last place, despite higher scores for value and ad awareness.

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