Back-to-School: Time for Better Brown Bags

July 27, 2010

Brown bagging is one way parents will curb growth of their Back-to-School spend this season.

Brown bagging is one way parents will curb growth of their Back-to-School spend this season. Publix has already figured out the way it will earn high grades and high performance from families it serves with school-age children.

Beginning July 29, the chain will prepackage lunches with a healthful angle – and charge more than its branded counterparts. According to a report in the Orlando Sentinel, sandwiches on honey-wheat bread or multigrain wraps will have sides such as baby carrots, low-fat yogurt and organic milk. The tab: $3.99 vs. $2.65 to $3.50 for a popular brand of prepacked lunches with drinks and sweets.

Publix feels it can price higher because its lunches were developed with dietitians and include high-quality products, a spokesman told the paper. The risk with any prepacked lunch is a consumer dislike of one or more components, yet the convenience of pre-assembly counts for a lot in time-stressed households.

What might go well into students’ lunchboxes this academic year? Judging by the slew of products The Lempert Report has received for review, we think some interesting ideas include: naturally sweetened fruit-and-grain snack bars, organic applesauce, organic fruit purees in squeezable packages, snack size sandwich bars, crunchy fruit snacks, nut butter spreads, nut- and dairy-free organic cookies, and flattened fruit packs.

Buying food to eat in school isn’t always regarded as part of the BTS load-up because it goes on year-round. Yet for many students, it is arguably the biggest portion of the annual BTS spend. 

When studies note that 8 out of 10 (79.3%) of consumers would be influenced by online BTS coupons or promotions, as a new Burst Media study noted, we think food retailers and manufacturers ought to integrate this insight into their strategies.

Across the broad scope of BTS shopping, just 23% of U.S. shoppers expect to participate this season, down from 30% last year, according to a national poll by Kantar Retail. Of those, 53% plan to spend about the same as last year, 21% more and 19% less, the study found. Supermarkets were named by just 7% of survey respondents as their source for BTS supplies, although that number would inarguably be higher if foods were included on the BTS shopping list.