Mobile and Back-to-School

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Leslie Harris

September 13th, 2017

In 2017, Gen Z students and new Millennial parents are making a big impact on mobile. Mobile isn’t just a tool being used to purchase products. Many parents and their children use their mobile devices to compare prices (58%), download coupons (39%), check product availability (38%), and take pictures of products they’re considering purchasing (30%).

Back-to-school shopping is no longer a morning trip to the mall, mobile is increasingly becoming a go-to choice for parents to get their kid’s supplies. In a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, 43% of consumers planned to use their smartphones to research and compare products for back-to-school — a ten percent increase from last year. For Millennial parents it’s close to 60%. Even with mobile’s new role in back-to-school shopping, only one in four of shoppers plan to use their phones to actually complete a purchase. Consumers are mainly using their phones as a utility device for planning ahead rather making an actual purchase.

The age of a brand’s target market is also an important factor when considering mobile as a back to school tactic. Almost every generation uses smartphones for shopping but Millennials and Gen Z shoppers are the best, most tech-savvy candidates. These two groups find mobile apps useful and influential when making buying decisions (61% for Millennials, 56% for Gen Z). A brand’s choice to utilize mobile as a means to reach customers during the back-to-school season could  alter the way their audience interacts with their products. Amazon, for example, has more than doubled it’s mobile app usage during special events such as Prime Day.

One of the most important factors of mobile shopping is the overall user experience. Almost 60% of Gen Z will not use an app or website that is too slow to load and close to 62% said they will not interact with an app if it is difficult to navigate.

Gen Z is also heavily influenced by social media such as Snapchat and Instagram when purchasing new products. In order to convert younger generations, brands should be sure to have a strong social media presence and mobile apps that are easy to navigate. Creating valuable, relevant visual content for the back-to-school season can inspire Gen Z users to make purchases.

If nothing else, the back-to-school season is a good test run for companies to determine how their target markets might interact with their brands during the holiday season. Mobile is clearly a major tool used in the purchasing decisions of many younger generations. It would be wise for brands to acknowledge these opportunities early on to better capitalize on them later.

“Study: Brick-and-mortar integral to BTS” 22, Aug 2017

“Class in Session: 3 Lessons for Retailers This Back-to-School Season” 23, Aug 2017.

“Fashion Conversion Comparison” 23, Aug 2017.

“Generation Z: The Coming of (Shopping) Age” 23, Aug 2017.

Leslie Harris


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