Data-Driven Tips for Connecting with 2 Key Back-to-School Shopper Personas

By Ericka Podesta McCoy, CMO, Resonate

With the back-to-school shopping season firing up with the summer sun, it’s time for retailers across categories to spark success by leveraging the latest technology to more effectively target and message back-to-school in their media campaigns. Even though the back-to-school season is short, the spending is big—and brands need the most up-to-date activation data to maximize revenue for the shopping season.

It’s easy to assume that back-to-school shoppers are all the same. But, AI-powered data can reveal very different buying habits. Resonate recently conducted an analysis leveraging AI-powered segmentation and determined there was a key difference in back-to-school shoppers depending on their beliefs about their financial security over the last 6 months. As a result, we identified two critical sub-segments: back-to-school spenders vs. back-to-school savers. (Resonate’s AI-powered data is continuously updated so we know who is saving more and who is spending more as a result of the macro environment.)

While these shoppers on average look quite similar from a demographic standpoint—both female, aged 35, with an average household income of $85,000—their underlying behaviors, preferences and shopping plans are quite different.

By understanding the nuances of spenders vs. savers, brands can target their campaigns and offers accordingly, driving up shopping cart size, while increasing ROAS. Here’s what to know about these two important back-to-school shopper personas:

Back-to-School Spenders

One of the most critical differences between the back-to-school shopper audiences is where they will shop. Consumers who have increased their spending over the last 6 months, despite the gloomy economy, plan to do most of their back-to-school shopping in-store. This insight provides unique targeting, messaging and offer opportunities for the savvy retailer who wants to increase shopping cart size.

Other important details retailers must know to win the season include:

  • These shoppers are 50 percent more likely to shop at a retailer with good customer service than their budget-conscious counterparts.
  • 56 percent will buy green products that are friendly to the environment.

Beyond back-to-school supplies, shoppers are planning to purchase garden and outdoor products, health and beauty products, and home goods and furnishings. There are abundant opportunities for promotions.

If you’re looking to ensure that your creative and messaging resonate, you’ll want to know these shoppers as humans. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Their top personal value is maintaining traditions.
  • They are driven by the desire for romantic love.
  • Their daily routines are family-oriented.
  • They are frequent users of food and drink mobile apps.

Back-to-School Savers

On the flip side, marketers have a tremendous opportunity to connect with budget-conscious shoppers online. Our data shows that 13 percent of back-to-school shoppers will shop exclusively online. Here’s some other insights into what they look for in a retailer:

  • They are 95 percent more likely than their higher-spending counterparts to shop at retailers that they consider family friendly.
  • 15 percent say they would stop purchasing from a company that doesn’t prioritize lowering its greenhouse gas emissions.

Beyond back-to-school supplies, the top items on this audience’s shopping lists include bedroom furniture and bedding, kids and baby products, and toys and games. Options for packaging and offers are abundant.

AI-powered data can help you break through the sea of ads targeting the back-to-school audience. Carefully crafting your creative and messaging requires better understanding. So here’s a little more insight on this segment, and (hint, hint) it’s very different from the other back-to-school shopper segment:

  • Their top personal value is being in charge.
  • They’re driven by the desire to lead an exciting life.
  • Their favorite hobby is going to theme parks.
  • Their daily routines are career-oriented.
  • They are frequent users of business-tool mobile apps.

Back-to-School Success Requires Deeper Insights

The average planned back-to-school spending per household in the U.S. has gradually increased year-on-year to reach about $865 U.S. in 2022—and spending in 2023 is expected to be bigger than ever. That said, when it comes to reaching this year’s back-to-school shoppers, it’s a noisy landscape. Brands need to be powering their campaigns with deeper insights into their audiences, whether they’re shopping for top-of-the-line supplies or looking to save a few bucks this year.

If you haven’t explored new, AI-data powered options for your media campaigns, you are not positioned to maximize the season. Better targeting, engaging and converting of back-to-school shoppers requires unparalleled activation data.