Great Northern Instore has completed its second annual audit of Back to School executions at retail. Our mission states “We help our customers win by doing what others can’t or won’t.” This includes providing timely insights into what is happening at retail. With Back to School being the #2 sales season for retail, following holiday, it is important to understand the landscape.
The big retailers are all talking about “seamless shopping” or frictionless shopping.” Walmart is bringing this to life instore with large, simple signs that are black-and-white (see photo below), utilizing simple fonts and icons (vs. lifestyle photographs).
Millennials are also the focus; and they are very budget conscious…a product of the great recession and our subsequent slow economic growth. Finally, NRF’s 2016 survey shows that this year will be a strong sales year for Back to School (and it trends hold, 2017 will be down). As far as where people will be shopping for back to school, there were no surprises that Mass / Discount is the primary destination and that online is growing. It was surprising to see that Office Stores and Drug are two channels that could see growth in traffic this year.
Our Audit Focuses on Insights
This is a key season for retailers, built on a very specific trip mission: for a parent to get all the necessary items for their children to start the school year on the right foot. Who doesn’t want their child to succeed? Surprisingly, our audits showed most retailers only evolved slightly from their 2015 campaigns. Staples was a notable exception, completely transforming their experience.
The macro trend of authenticity was very apparent. Without a major license this season (who doesn’t remember Minions last year), companies focused on various cause marketing efforts, supporting the donation of supplies to those that need them.
Echoing back to frictionless shopping; vehicles made sure shoppers could easily navigate their way to find the items on their lists (and hopefully a few more). Windows on dump bins; color coding; bold, giant product images and logos were all used to help call out items. And while there, savings messages helped close the deal.
Or course, it doesn’t stop at observations. Our talented team of designers is ready to translate these insights into executions that will help you win Back to School 2017 (really, we’re already thinking about that).
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