Digital Summit Los Angeles 2016

Retailers plan to invest more in their back-to-school marketing this year, largely by putting a little extra into their mobile and social media efforts.

That’s the word from a study conducted by Kelton Global and commissioned by RetailMeNot, a digital savings destination. In fact, 40 percent of retail marketers began their promotions in May and 85 percent plan to invest more in their b-t-s marketing efforts versus a year ago.

Specifically, 89 percent of retailers will increase their marketing spend on mobile compared with a year ago; 88 percent of retailers will hike their marketing spend on social media, and 70 percent of retailers will release mobile offers through a partner platform, according to the study.

More than ever consumers indicated that they want a seamless, integrated shopping experience. However, nearly one in 10 retailers indicated they don’t have an omnichannel promotional plan for the season.

“Discounts and deals are incredibly important this time of year to both retailers and shoppers. Parents want to maximize their spending power and are increasingly turning to mobile as part of their shopping journey,” said Marissa Tarleton, chief marketing officer, RetailMeNot. “For retail marketers, the opportunity to capitalize on omnichannel offers is more important than ever to reach consumers online, on mobile and in store. Consumers are seeking discounts, and it’s imperative that retailers and brands meet them where they are with compelling content.”

Some 63 percent of parents reported that they will spend more than $100 per student on b-t-s shopping, with 33 percent spending more than $250. Some 75 percent reported that money causes stress during the b-t-s- shopping season, and 82 percent of parents report that they are looking for deals.

In fact, some 36 percent of parents said they look for more savings during b-t-s than any other time of year. Nearly half of the shoppers (49 percent) said price is the most-important factor in what they decide to buy, and 70 percent of RetailMeNot expect to look for deals on their mobile devices.

When it comes to where parents are doing their b-t-s shopping, more than half of the shoppers (54 percent) surveyed said they plan to do their b-t-s shopping in a physical store, while 28 percent said they always search for items online before heading to a store.

“As we get closer to the start of school, shoppers will move from consideration to purchasing, and the retailers who have seamless experiences will benefit the most,” said Tarleton.

Among the key findings, RetailMeNot data shows that consumers are likely to do the bulk of their spending in August, and the top shopping day will be Aug. 5. While other top shopping days will occur in the first two weeks of August, the number two biggest b-t-s shopping day is expected to be on Labor Day, Sept. 4.

The survey also noted that 62 percent of retailers and brands will partner with companies that are experts in online and mobile promotions. Some 65 percent of brands will issue mobile offers through their own app, and 70 percent will issue mobile offers through partner apps.

Among the promotions that are most popular: 36 percent respondents said “percent off”; 19 percent prefer “dollar off”; 15 percent prefer “tax-free savings”; 14 percent said “buy more, save more”; 13 percent prefer “free shipping,” and 3 percent responded “cash-back offers.”

B-t-s is the longest shopping season in the U.S., lasting nearly three months. The highest level of consumer engagement with b-t-s content on RetailMeNot occurs between July 9 and Sept. 9.

The study included a Google consumer survey, which was conducted between June 6 and 12 and polled 1,000 U.S. consumers aged 18 on their b-t-s spending and deal-seeking goals. In addition, a RetailMeNot retailer survey was conducted by Kelton Global between May 11 and 16 among 201 marketing decision-makers who work at organizations that sell products both online and in physical stores.

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