Back-to-School Shopping and the Role Coupons Play

Back to school – we’ve all been there, whether it be as a student or parent. It’s a unique time of year where everyone is gearing up for a fresh start, which means shopping for new clothes and school supplies.

Understanding back to school shoppers is a key focus for many businesses, from physical retail to online e-commerce. Understanding these shoppers’ motivations for buying can help any business make sure that back to school season is as profitable as possible.

It’s also important to understand the role coupons play in back to school shopping. Kids want only the best, but parents are constantly on the lookout for new bargains. This makes coupons a crucial part in drawing back to school shoppers. Let’s take a look at who exactly these back to school shoppers are and the role coupons play in their behaviors.

Who Are Back-to-School Shoppers?

While students are the obvious reason that back to school shopping exists, it’s still important to remember that it’s the parents who are the ones doing the actual shopping and purchasing. Consider some of the following statistics from MarketWatch:

  • 86% of parents say price is the number one consideration for back to school shopping
  • 82% always look for deals and coupons before leaving the house for school shopping
  • 53% say the best time to shop is one month before school starts
  • 61% of parents say that the number one request from their children is a new backpack

Aside from requesting a new backpack, a great deal of back to school shopping is driven by children. Here are some facts from recent studies by the National Retail Foundation International Council of Shopping Centers to illustrate:

  • If there is no new “hot trend” for kids, parents will spend less (no new iPhone during back to school, for example)
  • An increasing amount of college students are choosing to live in dorms, and these kids are pushing their parents to buy smaller, dorm-style furnishings
  • About 6% of parents say that their kids will have total control over back to school purchasing
  • 86% of parents say that their kids will have at least some say in back to school purchases

What Role Do Coupons Usually Play?

As we mentioned, coupons are important in back to school because parents are usually looking to get their kids the best possible items at a great price.

Traditional Coupons

Although digital is huge in today’s retail environment, many parents still use traditional, physical coupons. Consider some of the following statistics:

  • 89% of Americans use paper coupons
  • 50% of shoppers read printed circulars for deals before their last supermarket visit
  • 46% of Americans prefer mail or printed coupons over digital

And let’s not forget about the advertising effect that paper coupons have on parents. Many parents will sift through their paper mailings and advertisements to get ideas for where to shop and plan which stores they’ll visit during back to school season.

Mobile Coupons

Don’t underestimate the impact that mobile is having on the use of traditional coupons as well. Busy parents sometimes find it difficult to track all the paper coupons they’ve collected, or forget them at home prior to shopping. Others simply just find it more convenient than paper, and according to BusinessWire, 79% of parents they surveyed plan to use mobile devices while doing their back to school shopping.

Today, consumers are using their smartphones and devices more than ever. This makes mobile shopping, and mobile coupons, that much more important for back to school shopping. Consider these stats:

  • 92% of parents with mobile devices access them during back to school shopping
  • 89% of parents say that availability of mobile coupons and deals determine where they shop
  • 33% of shoppers use their phones or mobile devices in-store when back to school shopping

Savvy retailers are also using push and location-based mobile notifications to offer deals to back to school shoppers in real-time. If a smartphone’s GPS indicates that a parent is near a certain retail store, why not send them an email or SMS coupon that they’re likely to use immediately?

By now you should have a good idea of exactly who back to school shoppers are, how parents are influenced by their children, and the role coupons play in back to school shopping. Hopefully you’ll be able to leverage this information to offer your target market the right deals at the right time, using the right mix of traditional and mobile coupons in order to get more people in the door!

Use Coupon Marketing for Back-to-School Shopping 

So what can you do right now to determine if your coupon strategy is best for the consumers you’re trying to target? Here are a few things you can do to get started:

  • Look at your current coupon strategy and determine what percentage are traditional vs. mobile
  • Think about how you can use both traditional and mobile coupons in tandem
  • If you’re not currently using mobile coupons, create a plan to get started so that your business can begin using them effectively