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BizReport : Advertising : August 04, 2020

Experts: Flexibility key for marketers this fall

As the calendar continues counting down to September 1 and the expected start to the new school year for many American children, marketers are wondering just what to do when so much is still unknown. Will schools be in session or will kids learn remotely? Will families have additional cash to outlay for not only school supplies but non-essential items? How can they engage will still being understanding of the pressure on many families? We asked digital experts how marketers should proceed this fall.

by Kristina Knight

"The underlying theme at the core of any marketing strategy for Back-to-School 2020 should be 'flexibility,' while a close second would be 'empathy.' Marketers would do well to acknowledge that distance learning can be challenging, especially for working parents who will need to multitask between managing a household, working remotely at their own jobs and helping their children with their schoolwork, sometimes all under one roof. Omnichannel retail options offer the very definition of flexibility, tailoring buying and delivery models to whichever method best suits the consumer. Offering subscription services where possible allows a parent to set up a recurring purchase without having to worry about running out of school supplies such as pens or notebooks. In addition, reassurances that inventory is in stock through real-time product feeds and store locator maps will help ease the anxiety of parents who likely searched stores frantically for toilet paper, baby food and other necessities just a few months earlier," said Jim Johnson, VP, Account Planning,

"From a product standpoint, tech products are flying off the shelves as parents are mostly spending their money on products that will help their child e-learn from home. 54% of parents want to continue to home-school their children, so we can expect them to show heavy interest in products and services that help them assist their children with their schoolwork," said Britt Feizulov, Associate Director, Solutions Marketing,

According to new data out from Printify, even with the assumption that at least part of the school year will be conducted in homes rather than school buildings, spending on back to school items is trending up, at least in some categories. Their data shows an increase in purchases of hoodies and T-shirts, particularly, but items including string bags, totes and notebooks are also trending up.

The experts from VDX agree that spending on office supplies will likely continue to trend upward.

"Office and school supply spending has increased considerably thus far in 2020, with the pandemic forcing many Americans to work and school from home. Specifically, online purchases are up nearly 100% year over year as Americans have shifted to purchasing back-to-school and other supplies via e-commerce channels. Through the third week of July 2020, office supply purchases have risen 26%, while during the same timeframe in 2019 purchases rose only 8%," said Marly Sohr, Performance Strategy Manager,

With so much spending going online from traditional stores, many wonder just how to engage online shoppers. According to Sohr, the key is in the content.

"Flexible ad content that relates to the viewer's emotions is gaining much more traction. Advertisers need to have a media plan that can quickly adapt to the ever-changing environment. One method that has resonated with consumers is a phased approach, which speaks more directly to the needs and wants customers are facing at different stages of re-opening. In regions still stuck in lockdown, messaging should highlight what brands are doing to support and ease the lives of consumers while keeping them updated on closures, hours and availability. As regions begin phased openings, messaging needs to adapt with it, educating consumers on which retailers are open, what products are available and how consumers can safely shop in store or click and collect," said Sohr.

Tags: advertising, advertising tips, advertising trends, ecommerce, ecommerce advertising, ecommerce trends, Printify,

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