Back to School Shoppers: How to Get More in 2016

Back to school shopping numbers are expected to make a huge leap this year, jumping close to $8-billion over what back to school shoppers from kindergarten to college age spent in 2015 (source). That jump isn’t a big surprise in a world where over a quarter the population (27%) is made up of kids.

What’s surprising is just how clueless some business owners out there are about the massive potential the dog-leg of summer can offer to manufacturers and retailers selling products that cater to this demo.

Another funny little tidbit for those of you who’ve never heard, is that 2016 is the unofficial “Stock up” year. It’s unofficial because this trend, where back to school shoppers either “Stock up” or “Make do with what they have,” has just started taking shape since 2012. Presumably in response to an improving economy and all the economic woes that have gripped North Americans since the bubble a few years ago.

Discount, department, clothing and technology retailers should be rejoicing at the emergence of this trend. It could very well end up being a conservative year for back to school shoppers, but with parents far less concerned with the state of the economy, that scenario isn’t very likely.

The National Retail Federation, whose membership includes some 1.6 billion retail businesses in the United States, points out that shoppers will be hitting up online and offline retailers early this year. Some have already started, with the majority slated to start bright and early in August — which is already well under way at the time of this writing.

Keep reading to gain some helpful tips on what you can do to make more sales in this super-competitive segment of the market this year.Tips for getting more back to school shoppers in your business

1. Make your products real to shoppers.

Anyone who has ever watched a coffee commercial will be able to relate to this. You know, the image of some groggy person smelling that first cup of Joe in the morning? It’s something that the coffee-loving public can relate to and identify with — ie., “The best part of wakin’ up….”


The same goes with back to school shoppers, they want to identify with whatever they’re considering buying. So make it real for them. Set up a mini dorm room in your furniture store, with a desk or two loaded with all the things a desk would normally have on it (pens, books, papers, computer, etc.) Set up your backpack displays with backpacks loaded with other back-to-school gear, sports gear, lunchboxes, etc.

2. Show them what they need.

Take a look at the following simple promo image from Target’s website:

Everything a kid should have in their backpack, right? There’s tons of examples of this suggestive marketing all over the web, from telling kids what they need to be wearing, to what items they’ll need to look chic while sweating in gym class. Tell them what they need and they won’t leave your store only to suddenly remember when they’re at the next store.

3. Capitalize on moving trends.

This should be a given. If you don’t know about following and capitalizing on trends, then how the heck have you managed to stay in business this long? Kids are easy to dial into. Pokemon Go is all the rage right now, and if your kids can manage to keep from running head first into a tree while they’re playing it on their smartphone this summer, chances are they’ll be wanting some Pokegear to take back to school with them. What kid under 12 wouldn’t want a Pokemon backpack to carry all their school essentials in?

That’s it for the tips on how to reel in more back to school shoppers this year. While in theory it should be easy, there’s a lot of competition out there hoping to cash in while everyone’s “stocking up” this year.

Work hard. Don’t get left in the dust!

back to school shopping time
Image Credit: Mike Mozart/Flickr



Main Image Credit: USAG Humphreys/Flickr