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Regional Differences Determine Back-To-School Best Practices

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The back-to-school season is ending, but there is still some time to make conversions out of last-minute shoppers — two-thirds of shoppers wait until August to make their purchases, according to a survey by PebblePost. Geography also plays a role, as the school year kicks off at different times in different regions.

“A lot of it has to do with the geography,” said Tom Barbaro, VP of Sales at PebblePost in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Back to school means different things based on where you live in the U.S. I’m from New York, so for me back to school is after labor day, but if you’re from the Southeast, back to school already happened.”

A study by Monetate supported the regional shift in back-to-school shopping: while 40% of all respondents said they don’t start shopping until August, that number rose to 56% among shoppers in the Midwest. Additionally, 2% of shoppers put off the task until September.

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Retailers also need to consider the consideration period of their products when they formulate their marketing plans, according to Barbaro. Products such as notebooks or staplers are impulse buys, often purchased as part of a larger shopping trip, but retailers should design their outreach with the understanding that major purchases like laptops can take up to a month of research beforehand.

“If I were a marketer I would look at geotargeting and thinking about when children are actually going back to school,” said Barbaro. “Think about the actual products or the categories that you’re offering, and what type of consideration period makes the most sense based off those types of products.”

Retailers should take these considerations into mind when they come up with a marketing plan, as shoppers are already inundated with marketing. A family that purchases a notebook probably doesn’t want to be followed up with emails, but if they’ve expressed interested in a computer they may be more likely to make a purchase if they’re given a promotion or told about a sale.

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