Ways to polish your BTS apple

July 23, 2013

For supermarkets, the entire academic year is an opportunity for meaningful dialogue about food.

Want to earn your fair share of Back-to-School sales in 2013?

It will take a disciplined lesson plan that leverages knowledge of consumer spending patterns today and emulates some of the best aspects of Walmart’s price leadership (it rolled out goods to stores before July 4), Target’s style leadership (with 200 more school items in most of its stores), and Office Depot’s anti-bullying messages.

The Lempert Report sees authenticity in each of these approaches to connect with households seeking value, style and caring from the physical stores and websites they buy from. The merchants that relate best to shoppers on these levels should be able to capture share of a smaller sales pie than last year.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), 2012 was an unusual peak-buying season that won’t be repeated in 2013 because students have “an array of school supplies that still work” and “parents will ask their kids to reuse what they can for the upcoming school season.”  

Therefore, families with K-12 children will spend an average of $634.78 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics, down from $688.62 in 2012; that could reach a cumulative $26.7 billion. Separate back-to-college spending, show the NRF/Prosper Insights & Analytics survey data, will be $836.83 for apparel, electronics, dorm furnishings and more; this could reach $48.5 billion.

Notably, 47.7% of college students will commute to campus from home, up from 42.9% in 2012. While none of the above figures include food, it seems clear to The Lempert Report that supermarkets could do well with BTS food if they emphasize tween, teen and Millennial favorites with the better nutritional and healthy choices their parents want. Youth in America’s school-going households influence the shopping list, even if they don’t do the chores.

By tying foods to looking and feeling better, academic success, fun and social popularity, supermarkets could have meaningful dialogue with school-bound customers lasting through every term.