Amidst the joys of summer, it’s hard to think about the looming date of returning to school, but summer is now winding down and that day is fast approaching. As with most holiday seasons, Mother’s Day, Easter and New Year’s for example, retailers are pushing promotions earlier and earlier to secure market share. For the back to school season, some retailers were reeling out their back to school promotions as early as late June.
Listed alongside various other holidays, the back to school season may seem like an odd period for retailers to make effort with. However, looking closer, it’s easy to see the value and opportunity the market holds. School shopping is in fact a big business with pens, folders, bags, gadgets and uniforms being just a few examples of items on everyone’s list. The US back to school market alone is set to grow 14.8% to $74.03 billion in 2017.
Although these back to school supplies are often due to practical needs, needing bigger size shoes for example, there are also underlying psychological needs from both children and parents alike. When we think of the new school year there are various associated emotions. Excitement and anticipation yes, but also anxiety, fear, sadness and stress. Getting new clothes and supplies is often used to raise confidence and increase levels of happiness and excitement.
If an individual is feeling anxious, decisions are often made to avoid perceived threats. When shopping for school for example, the threat of not having what you need or being the only one without the latest trend may be enough to encourage spending. Known as risk or loss aversion in behavioural economics, it’s the idea that people are more worried about losses than gains. Retailers create this illusion by pushing promotions that may scare shoppers into buying for fear of missing out.
Through all this, it’s important to remember who the shopper really is, often that’s the parents.
Surely adults make rational decisions when it comes to shopping? Well in fact parents are just as susceptible to yielding to their psychological needs as their children. While children want to buy to stay connected to their peers, parents want to buy to stay connected to their children; to feel like they have more control when their apart. Using school shopping as a way to give themselves confidence in their child’s school environment, parents often over buy to be assured of their child’s happiness.
As true as when we buy anything, we think about when we might use it in the future. Perhaps parents picture their child on their first day, walking into class and setting on the table all the equipment they could need, perhaps for some, a little too much! Children picture making new friends, having the right clothes, fitting in and feeling included.
Getting school shopping done early is just another way for parents and students alike to feel confident and prepared.