July 22, 2014

Back to School Keeps Mobile Cool

There are conflicting results being published as to when consumers will begin their back to school shopping, but despite timing, there is one topic that everyone seems to agree on: the number of consumers turning to their mobile devices to shop and research products. According to the National Retail Federation Back to School Survey,  'Of those consumers who own tablets, 45% plan to research products on their device, while 31% will actually purchase products. And of those consumers who own smartphones, 37% plan to research products, while 22% will make purchases on their devices.'?

Photo Credit: http://www.responsys.com/ Photo Credit: http://www.responsys.com/

Mobile Impacts In-Store Behavior

Consumer mobile adoption continues to impact Ecommerce but is also impacting in-store sales.  Beyond the volumes of transactions taking place from mobile and tablet devices, comparison engines and mobile apps are literally at the fingertips of consumers while shopping in-store.  Shoppers can now compare prices while standing at-shelf to find the best price or discover coupons. This has steered retailers to put more weight on their mobile presence and better integrate their owned mobile tools into their complete brand experience.

Reported by The Search Monitor, '78% of smartphone owners used their phones to perform BTS searches in 2013.'? It's evident from stats like this one that marketers must impress upon agencies or in-house resources that paid and organic content needs to be optimized for mobile devices with specific mobile-only offers.

Mobile shopping will continue to gain momentum. To ensure maximum brand and product visibility, a mix of both Ecommerce and effort to influence consumers before and during their brick and mortar experience is critical.  Savvy shoppers who are already consuming media and content on their mobile devices will be more likely to also convert on mobile or seek out product information in-store if the experience is a good one.

Leveraging Mobile Targeting to Influence Purchase

Geo-fencing: One example of specific mobile advertising is 'Geo-fencing', which has become a popular means of reaching consumers on the go.  This method ensures that only users within a designated location radius (ex. 5 miles) are served an applicable advertisement, often stating in the copy, the proximity to the closest retailer where that product is sold.  These ads are served across mobile websites and mobile applications.

Mobile Consumer Reviews: Consumer reviews also have their place and have a strong influence on purchase decisions; but on a small screen of a mobile device this element can be compromised.  Platforms like Google, Amazon and Facebook all make it possible to incorporate a star-rating system, which increases readability.  Even so, displaying reviews predominantly so they are easy to find and require minimal navigation increase the chances a user will have a positive mobile interaction.

These are just two descriptions of many mobile earned and owned opportunities useful during 'off peak' or seasonal times.

Back to School is a hectic time for consumers.  Smart marketers will meet them where they already are to make the shopping experience easy and enjoyable.

June 6, 2013

Back to School 101: Is Your Campaign Ready?

Back-to-School brings in around $70 billion in sales each year, second to only Holiday in terms of seasonal sales. For many brands, this represents a vital piece of their overall yearly revenue. $70 billion is not an occasion to miss, or even approach halfheartedly. With that in mind, here are 3 essential questions you should ask yourself and consider before you dive any deeper into your BTS campaign planning. Answering the following will help ensure you are on your way towards a successful initiative.

What do you want to accomplish and by when? Do you have enough time to execute?

We're getting into crunch time with the back-to-school season quickly approaching. If you're not already working on your back-to-school strategy, you're probably going to miss out. A key question to address when laying out the foundation for any campaign is- do you have the correct amount of time needed to properly deploy your campaign? Timing should be paramount when planning because being short on time can affect the campaign execution, while launching too early could catch consumers in the wrong mind frame (still summer loving)- and therefore fail to strike when the iron is hot. It sounds simple, but having an accurate and achievable timeline is one of the most crucial components of campaign planning. Particularly when the campaign you are launching is dependent on seasonal timing.

Have you utilized industry learnings to inform and optimize your campaign?

Learning from previous campaigns before moving forward with your own plan can help inform your campaign strategy. To help catch you up to speed, here are a few Back-to-School best-in-class examples that are definitely worth a second look.  You will find that the most successful campaigns typically involve highlighting a product, offering a stand-out deal, or even pledging that sales will benefit a good cause.

  • Product features: When catchy creative campaigns catch fire, students typically fall victim to the popular following and can't resist the urge to get in on it too. See: Microsoft, Microsoft vs. Mini Fridge
  • Hard to beat offers: The campaigns offering students legitimate deals leave customers walking away feeling valued, and that the company simply wanted to better their lives by offering such a great promotion. Such experiences will entice students to buy again or consider the brand for future purchases. See: Apple's $100 Back to School Gift Card
  • Profit for Non-Profit: The ability to do good instead of just making a regular purchase is something that stands out in any consumer's mind. Substantial interactions that accomplish two tasks for the price of one is an experience to remember, offering consumers with a positive brand association for back-to-school (and years) to come. See (AMP's work): Staples for Students

Does your plan include a post-campaign strategy that continues conversations?

Many marketers make the mistake of approaching Back-to-School as a one-off campaign, which is thinking that can only lead to missed opportunities. BTS might be a once-a-year execution, but the customers you create during that time are still yours for the remainder of the year, not to mention years to come. Therefore, it is valuable to have a long-term plan in place for speaking to these same consumers at different points throughout the year. The solution is to approach your BTS campaign as a platform for generating a conversation with your target audience, and then utilizing that platform as a means for obtaining and collecting meaningful information from your consumers that will be used in post-BTS initiatives. Social channels are the perfect tool for initiating and maintaining this relationship with consumers.

A nice campaign to reference in terms of generating a relationship with their consumers is American Eagle's 2012 'Live Your Life'? campaign.

American Eagle asked consumers to share their individual style by submitting photos of themselves wearing their new back-to-school AE jeans. Fans and followers were asked to vote for their favorites, giving 15 finalists (with the most social votes) the opportunity to appear on the brand's blog, Facebook page and YouTube channel. In the end, 15 finalists were also to be featured in the American Eagle Spring campaign. Not only did the 'Live Your Life'? campaign reach and communicate with consumers through all social outlets and ask for consumer participation, it also planned for future engagement (goodbye BTS, hello Spring Campaign) and left fans feeling  truly valued by the brand (social fans are now brand campaign stars).

This is in no way a definitive list of ways to be successful during the Back to School season, so we would love to hear your thoughts on other best practices that you have seen. Sound off in the comments below.

June 24, 2012

The Class of 2016

There is a plethora of information available about Digital Natives, a tech-driven, sporadic generation who does not know about a life without technology. They switch content 27 times per hour'jumping between electronic devices and media platforms every two minutes. While advertisers and marketers navigate this ever changing terrain, we ventured into an even more foreign territory'the minds and dorms rooms of the Class of 2016. Want to learn more information about this connected generation? Leave a comment below telling us what you'd like to know!

April 30, 2012

Change is the Only Thing That Stays the Same

Every year at Back to School time, parents head out in droves with armfuls of children attached to themselves in search of the latest and greatest fashion and gadgets. Some spend a lot and some spend a little, but in 2011 parents said they spent about $606, down from $612 in 2010. So, what does that mean? It means Mrs. Smith bought one less three-ring binder than she did the year before.

It's a change that researchers and retailers are extremely mindful of because when you think about all those un-bought binders, you realize just how much they can add up to. But it's not just important to think about how much money parents spend during this time, it is also important to think about why they spend it.

Back to School time brings about change. Change in the leaves, change in the temperature. Kids grow older, taller, chubbier, and more or less popular. They look to form new ideas and new identities. While this change may be exciting for parents (or depressing!), it is something they have no control over.

One thing parents do have control over, however, is what they buy for their kids. The desire for control urges them to buy, but also means they are part of their kid's experience. Because as it turns out, going to class with them isn't going to happen.

Bottom line?

Allowing parents to be a key part of the Back to School process is even more important. This means retailers should implement a variety of tactics including sales and promotions making shopping easier by calling out the products kids need and merchandising them in a way parents and kids can navigate. Parents want to be part of the story and have a little control over it. Give them at least that!

 

April 30, 2012

For Teens (and Brands) Back to School Shopping Means More Than Just a New Trapper Keeper

For teens, the ritual of back-to-school shopping is born from necessity. Growth spurts mean new kicks are a must and advanced math class requires a graphing calculator this year. But the BTS ritual satisfies needs beyond practical considerations. What teens wear, the electronics they use, the backpacks they carry are all means of defining their identities ' both to themselves and to their peers. BTS shopping provides teens with a unique, once-a-year, opportunity for self-expression and reinvention.

Teens as Purchase Influencers

It's generally parents that control the purse strings for BTS shopping, but the teens still do their best to run the show. After all, does mom really know that boldly-colored skinny jeans are the 'it' item teen girls must have for BTS? Teens report that they strongly influence BTS purchase decisions across categories, and their influence only gets stronger as they approach college age.

Teens have even more control over their own discretionary spending. A recent study conducted by Piper Jaffray concluded that teens discretionary spending in categories like fashion, cosmetics, and electronics is projected to increase in 2012. If this projection comes to fruition, it will mark the first upswing in teen spending in over a decade.

Think like a Teen

Teens' influence over BTS purchases and increased discretionary spending this year means that they are not an audience marketers should ignore. Thinking like a teen can help brands' communications make an impact with this audience. A great deal or promotion, for example, allows teens to stretch their limited discretionary money further. A compelling deal also makes convincing parents to purchase a specific brand much easer.

When it comes to placement, remember that this generation of teens is digital natives ' they've grown up using the internet and digital devices. Social media is a great vehicle for getting teens to encounter your brand's communications in the course of their daily Facebook browsing.

Fads and Functionality

The teen demographic is a worthwhile focus for marketers. Successful efforts can be achieved by leveraging knowledge about teens' BTS purchase behaviors. Brands should think like a teen, remembering that their BTS shopping is motivated by desire to express their identities and align themselves with what's en vogue. But don't forget about the parents! Communication must also appeal to these more rational primary purchasers via performance claims, product functionality and affordability.

April 27, 2012

College Students' Back-To-School Shopping Behavior, Insights Lab Episode 9

AMP's Director of Brand Strategy, Jason Rivera, shares some insight on college students' purchase intent and shopping behavior. He discusses how brands can leverage these insights to reach this demographic during the Back-to-School shopping season.

April 27, 2012

College Students' Back-To-School Shopping Behavior, Insights Lab Episode 9

AMP's Director of Brand Strategy, Jason Rivera, shares some insight on college students' purchase intent and shopping behavior. He discusses how brands can leverage these insights to reach this demographic during the Back-to-School shopping season.

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