And just like that, it’s time to sharpen the pencils and load up the book bags. For consumers, the back-to-school season of crisp, fresh clothes and shiny new supplies is expensive, and usually dreaded. For marketers, however, it’s an opportunity just waiting to be capitalized on.
In a new report published by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), physical stores will continue to be the most popular format for back-to-school purchases with nearly 90% of shoppers making purchases in-store. The primary reason for shopping in-store is the ability to see, touch or try on the merchandize. The secondary is for better prices, deals and promotions. On average, this year’s back-to-school shopper will spend $812.
“Back-to-school season is a massive opportunity for retailers to get consumers in their store,” said Mike Marchetti, BrandMuscle’s EVP of Client Service. “What we see, however, is that they can’t do it alone. They’re looking to their brand to help in this massive undertaking.”
Knowing that consumers are shopping in physical stores, what can your brand do to capitalize on the second largest spending season at the local level?
1. Focus on in-store marketing
As obvious as it may seem, this form of marketing can be overlooked by your local retailer. An uptick in in-store sales should equate to an up-tick in in-store marketing. Make sure your local businesses have branded, up-to-date point-of-sale marketing pieces like flyers, posters and pop-up displays to use.
“In-store marketing, when done correctly, is an extremely effective tactic for local retailers,” Marchetti said. “Just because the consumer is in your store, doesn’t mean you should stop marketing to them. You’ve got to reach them at every possible touch point, even in the moments before purchase.”
2. Allocate more co-op
If you want your local business partners to focus more on their marketing efforts, you might have to offer a little incentive. And what better of an incentive is there to give than money? Consider offering more in your co-op budget during the back-to-school months for the tactics (like in-store marketing) that will benefit both your local business partner and your brand as a whole.
“One of the perks of having a well-run co-op program is that you can shift marketing dollars around to different tactics at different times,” Marchetti said. “Because the back-to-school season is a cyclical event, plan your co-op allocation around it to help incentivize your local business partners to use the right tactics.”
3. Don’t abandon your online presence
Yes, consumers are making purchases inside of your location. But don’t forget about what their path-to-purchase looks like. Often times, it starts online, before they even make the trip into your store. Are your locations’ addresses accurate so inquiring consumers can find you? Do you have the right phone number for consumers to reach you? If you want consumers to come in to your physical store, you must have the foundation accurate and up-to-date first.
“It’s never smart to put all your eggs in one basket,” Marchetti said. “Just because your consumers are coming in your store doesn’t mean you can forget about the rest of the consumer journey. Neglecting your online presence could cost you that desired in-store sale altogether.”
As back-to-school season surges on, don’t fall behind the competition by overlooking a local marketing plan. Get the right funds in place to allow your local business partners to take advantage of the uptick in in-store traffic while ensuring all of your online foundational elements are correct.
Need help getting an integrated local marketing plan in place? Contact BrandMuscle today!