Customer Behaviour

New research from reveals over 90% of shoppers will conduct their back to school shopping online, with the majority making purchases in August.

In early September, children and university students throughout the UK will return to school. For many, this will be for the first time since government closed schools in late March. To assist retailers in understanding how back to school shoppers will purchase in 2020, Rakuten Advertising surveyed 758 UK consumers with primary, secondary school and university aged children, along with university students who purchase their own items.

The results show that 75% of UK parents and 59% of university students have suffered financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 and will be looking to prioritise back to school spend on items they deem essential.

80% of primary and secondary school parents are aiming to spend under £500 on back to school supplies, with 31% of that spend allocated to clothing and 23% to cleanliness products. Cleanliness items such as facemasks, hand sanitisers and tissues have this year beaten purchases of traditional back to school items (21%) such as notebooks and stationary.

These shifts in purchase behaviour are echoed by parents of university students, with cleanliness products (27%) being more heavily invested in than even technology (19%). In addition, only 29% of university parents will spend between £500-£1000 on back to school supplies this year, with 80% of university students aiming to spend less than £500.

Nick Fletcher, SVP Northern Europe at Rakuten Advertising comments, “Given the unprecedented circumstances of this year, it’s not surprising that what shoppers now deem essential for going back to school has shifted. Remaining flexible and open to pivoting on product-led campaigns, based on the items that are performing best with consumers will benefit brands looking to engage with consumers and the products they’re searching for during this period..”

Fletcher continues, “With well over half of back to school shoppers having faced financial hardship during the pandemic, the availability of discounts and offers will be essential to driving purchases. Partnering with publishers that promote discounts, such as deal and offer sites, or cashback and rewards publishers, can help brands engage price conscious shoppers. In addition, brands should look to optimise partnerships with unique student publishers that target and reach university students during this peak purchase month of August.”

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