Back to School During a Pandemic: How COVID-19 is Shaping 2020 BTS Trends.
It goes without saying that no one saw this one coming.
“Back to School in a Pandemic” wasn’t a blog post we would have foreseen needing to write a year ago, but we’re here to help clue you in to how COVID-19 is shaping BTS trends—and what you can do to improve your affiliate strategy in these strange times.
Common wisdom quickly determined that, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, consumers would be spending less on back-to-school shopping. The pandemic has led to confusion across the board for parents and schools, with many students still unsure of when and how they will return to their education.
However, contrary to expectations, trends suggest BTS shoppers may be positioned to spend more, albeit in different ways.
Due to the rise of remote and online learning, spending is shifting away from traditional school supplies to higher-ticket electronics and home office furniture that allows consumers to continue education from home.
Here are some statistical insights:
-63% of consumers expect at least some school and college classes will take place online this year.
-34% expect to spend more than they thought in July, with 54% saying that’s because they plan to spend more on electronics and computer equipment.
Differences in Shopping Methods:
It’s not just what consumers are buying that’s different—it’s also how they’re buying. Concern over the spread of the virus has, understandably, reduced the amount of in-store shopping typical of this time of year.
Over half (56%) of consumers claim they will be more inclined to shop online for BTS needs this year. A similar number (52%) say they plan to use curbside pickup.
In response, 65% of brands are planning to offer more promotions during the back-to-school shopping season this year to help ease the stress for consumers.
Differences in Shopping Behaviors:
Since the pandemic has increased financial stress for a vast portion of the population, consumers are showing an increased propensity to search harder and wait longer for a deal that fits their pocketbook.
Among parents, 59% say that price is now the biggest determining factor when making a purchase.
Likewise, 64% of consumers reveal that they will wait to make a purchase until they find a deal, with 73% planning to search multiple sources to find the right deal.
Parents are also looking to take advantage of promotions and deals themselves, with 52% saying they will be shopping for themselves as well during the BTS season.
Important Things to Consider:
The pandemic has also had a significant effect in several other areas that are crucial to consider.
First, timings and supply lines are shaky. Amazon Prime Day, a dependable opportunity for promotions has been moved from July to September. Global supply chains are also slowed and, in some cases, completely stopped.
Consumer spending has become more conservative, focusing closely on health, wellness, and essential items.
Product demand has seen an uptick in electronics, as remote learning replaces in-school education for the foreseeable 2020 future.
Some Tips For Retailers:
There are several things retailers should consider doing in response to pandemic BTS trends.
Take time to develop more competitive promotions than you may usually consider. Consumers are financially stressed, and influencers less excited about higher-priced items. Gear your promotions toward value-conscious shoppers.
Partner with sellers who offer short-term financing options like AfterPay, Klarna, or Affirm. Right now, consumers are more apt to space out payments for their larger purchases.
Respect shopper’s desire for safety by offering BOPIS (buy online, pick-up in store) as much as possible. Retailers who have in-store presence should do everything they can to give consumers the chance to get what they want with as little stress as possible.
Finally, develop processes that are as agile as possible. It’s hard to say what each day will bring, so it’s important that retailers have contingency plans in place for the shifting landscape wrought by the pandemic.
Contact Gen3 for help tailoring your affiliate for BTS in the pandemic. We’ll get through this together!
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