As summer comes to a close I can't help but wonder if some marketers should go back to marketing class. My kids still have a lot to learn and based upon my recent shopping endeavors, many marketers do too. Customers are looking for decision simplicity, good customer service and deals.
The National Retail Federation projects that parents of children in grades K-12 will spend nearly $689 on their children's back-to-school needs, almost $85 more than last year. I have 3 kids, so doing some old school math; I'm going to spend nearly $2100 in the next few weeks. So here is some advice family facing businesses on what you can do to get your share of the BTSD (Back to School Dollars).
1. Office superstores please help me: I bring my kids there every year to get supplies. Many stores have numerous computers on display and employees walking around trying to help. How about setting up a PC station so I can print out the supply lists for each grade? Even better, how about posting the lists from local districts so busy moms and dads can save time. This service would make a great commercial - telling parents to come in, grab a list and shop?
2. Grocery stores: how creating aisle that is dedicated to a back to school “stock up” aisle? It could include snacks, drinks, refillable water bottles, plastic containers, etc. I would heartily appreciate an organized row of everything I need to pack up the little learners with healthy and clever nourishment for their busy days.
3. A Gold Star goes to Bed, Bath and Beyond for back to school marketing for collage bound kids. BB&B was genius for taking the simple Wedding Registry strategy and adapting it for college bound students. Not only can the items be bought and/or sourced at any BB&B location, but the items can be picked up in a city closer to the campus, avoiding need to schlep one more thing in the family mini van or the long plane flight. It also means that Grandma and Gramps can pick up a few things easily with no shipping or hassle. This is a perfect example of making it easier for the customer to do business with you.
4. Car rental companies could use a good dose of the "pre-registration" strategy embraced by many institutions of higher learning. How about if we fill out all the paper work, answer all the questions and decline all the insurance before we travel, so those lines are not ridiculously long upon arrival. How about you see my license and we move it along? Nothing is worse after a long flight than filling out information I could have done weeks before and answering questions that I answer the same way, over and over. You will get my business immediately if you tell me there is NO LINE for registration!
5. LL Bean, you have already graduated, keep up the great work. Everything is organized by activity; appropriate size for age (critical for back packs) and the free shipping makes it even better. Quality and price also make a mommy happy.
As all parents know, it's the little things that make a difference. If marketers thought more like parents, they would get my BTSD and then some.