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By adapting to the needs of emerging consumer behaviors, retailers can make the most of an uncertain back-to-school environment.
Deloitte’s recent survey of 1,200 back-to-school shoppers in the United States confirms they are uncertain and anxious, and have fairly low satisfaction levels with the education their kids received this spring. Analysis reveals four types of shoppers are approaching the season—the Digital Native, the Safety-focused, the Undecided, and the Deal Seeker (see figure). Understanding these shoppers’ approaches can help retailers identify what matters most and what drives hundreds of dollars of spend per family. By acting on this knowledge, retailers can optimize digital platforms, implement strong COVID-19 precautions, and address the nuances of each type of shopper.
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Retailers that can offer convenience platforms can gain ground with this group, as 68% prefer the buy-online-return-in-store format (vs. 48% average). Interestingly, this group doesn’t want to pay up for delivery—56% prefer retailers that offer free shipping (vs. 39% average). This segment is also more comfortable with using virtual and online learning resources for their children, with 59% planning to spend the same or more than last year (vs. 49% average) to help supplement children’s educations.
Concerns for health drive 51% to visit an online-only retailer for back-to-school shopping (vs. 40% average) and 57% prefer retailers that offer buy-online-pick-up-in-store or curbside pickup (vs. 42% average). Furthermore, their children’s safety is also top of mind with 69% planning to buy personal hygiene products, such as hand sanitizer and wipes (vs. 54% average). To tap into this group’s higher-than-average budget, retailers should focus on COVID-19 safety precautions and contactless platforms.
Given their value-seeking trait, 43% of Deal Seekers plan to visit off-price retailers for back-to-school shopping (vs. 30% average). Retailers should consider frequent promotions to entice this group, as 66% plan to shop at different points in the summer for the best deals (vs. 56% average).
This group has yet to decide on their shopping plans and 29% of their back-to-school budget is not aligned to any retail channel (vs. 17% average). They are also late shoppers, with 52% planning to start shopping in August or later (vs. 37% average). Retailers that can avoid stock-outs late in the season will likely have an opportunity to engage with these consumers.