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When Father Knows Best: Targeting the Back-to-School Market


back to school, back-to-school, shoppertrak, retail, shoppingNurturer. Provider. Protector. There’s no doubt most fathers during this generation see these as key attributes to their parenting role. Well over 60% of fathers surveyed by Pew Research gave themselves high marks for their parenting efforts, rating themselves as very good to excellent. In fact, their average amount of time spent with children has nearly tripled since 1965.

And moms agree. In a Redbook poll, 72% of moms revealed their husbands were better dads than their own fathers, with 40% being “extremely” hands-on. Perhaps that’s why dads are continuing their dedication to their college age children by spending more on back-to-college purchases. A recent NRF 2013 Back-to-School survey revealed that dads will spend 34% more than moms on college supplies. This is quite a significant difference considering the state of the economy and parents’ concerns to pare down on buying supplies.

Back-to-college spending has no doubt been a huge retail sales bonanza with spending expected to reach over $45 billion this year. And why is this? According to Gen BuY, a book detailing the buying behavior of millennials by Kit Yarrow and Jayne O’Donnell, today’s more involved parents view shopping as an emotional and psychological avenue for processing this huge transition in their child’s life. Shopping with their college student and purchasing items they will need and use away from home somehow offers parents a sense of control and security. Going away to college is a huge deal to dads and it shows in the numbers.

What does this mean for retailers during the back-to-school season? A genuine and authentic social marketing mix is effective in targeting those fathers who believe nothing is too good for their college student – especially in the realm of electronics, furniture and dorm accessories. Social marketing channels such as Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter can effectively target college students who have their father’s ear (and wallet); and mobile-optimized emails are essential for reaching those dads who prefer their smartphones or tablets. This is a time when dads feel they’re officially “letting go” of their child, and those feelings of nurturer, provider, and protector are kicking in to high gear.

With multiple channels of social engagement, it’s easy for retailers to get drowned out in the noise and question the effectiveness of their unique marketing campaign. A precise, targeted strategy based on accurate data is needed and ShopperTrak can help. ShopperTrak provides in-store analytics that enables retailers to acquire and sort through the right data to determine the success of current campaigns and develop the right mix for future ones. Through innovative people counting solutions, ShopperTrak can help retailers fine-tune their strategies to effectively reach this back-to-school market in years to come.


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