Everything You Need to Know About Marketing and Business for Back-to-School Season

Back to school season might be around the corner for shoppers, but for businesses, it’s already here! And with this year playing out a little differently this year, (*cough cough COVID-19) it can be tricky to know how both marketing and sales will transpire. 

For some companies, this has already been a topic for months as COVID-19 isn’t planning on leaving the U.S. or the rest of the world anytime soon. In fact, the country just received an influx of one million cases in the last 15 days. With that being said, we’ll take a look into what companies are doing successfully and what to expect as businesses turn the corner on a season that’s supposed to yield more profits than previous months.  

Anxiety is at Large

Both parties such as shoppers and marketers can truly feel the anxiety with each new day, and that’s completely normal. Back to school season may be upon us, but it’s still up in there if any students will be returning to campus 

This impacts spending greatly on the shoppers. Parents and students have most likely asked themselves if they’ll need supplies such as denim jeans or new backpacks. If there’s nowhere to go, then what’s the point? If they don’t know the future events, how can they be expected to spend their hard-earned money? 

Speaking of money, 40 million Americans are currently unemployed due to the pandemic shutting down several businesses and companies having to downsize in order to stay afloat. I It’s rare that someone will be able to walk away from 2020 unscathed, which brings an increase in anxiety all on its own. 

Advertising has Dropped Significantly 

If a consumer were to turn the television on a year ago today, they would already be flooded with ads from companies like Staples, JCPenney’s and even Macy’s. Although, the needs have inevitably changed. 

With the decrease in budgets, advertisers don’t have much to work with in terms of advertising. According to a report from the Numerator, ad spending is actually down 50 percent to last year, which is a crazy thought. As a result, they either have to get more creative with the money that is sitting in the bank or they have to pull the plug altogether. 

Advertisers are also already aware that many consumers won’t be visiting the malls like they once did before. Whether it’s out of fear from the consumer or precaution from the mall, e-commerce has been looking much more appetizing to shoppers who still want to purchase some new merchandise for the season. 

Amazon has especially taken notice to the new opening for business. In fact, much of their own web advertising has been mainly focused on school supplies. This is because they know that their audience is only increasing in that department and they have the benefit of two-day shipping and many other features that continue to bring back loyal customers.   

Brands Pivot in What/How They Market

For some brands, they are accepting this current form of normalcy with beauty and grace. They’re able to understand new consumer behavior and move in the ways they need to ensure that the new needs are officially met. 

Jansport, for example, has been conscious of their messaging choices. Instead of getting kids geared up for the classroom with their new products, they are instead helping them cope with new stressors and mental illnesses many may be enduring at this time. Their newest campaign “Lighten the load” is geared towards the Gen Z demographic where the brand wants to partner and relate to them with any help they might need during this time. Their campaign has even gone as far as include licensed therapists to appear on live streams and social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter. 

Another brand to do this well with another new campaign launch is American Eagle. The brand was able to read the room in a way that understood and altered themselves to be where their target market is going to be, which is studying in their bedrooms. To accompany this knowledge, their campaign was filled with trending influencers in a virtual learning space all wearing the brand’s clothing. All are taking part and connecting with each other, but the messaging is able to do so with a safe socially distanced space in mind. As a result, the brand was able to communicate their brand message and an important global message to their consumers.  

While their sales may not be directly comparable to last year, these two brands and others similar to them and their messaging have been able to anchor themselves in a much better spot. By listening to the needs of the target market and finding how they can blend in their products to fit in the situation, these brands are riding out on the meanings of inclusion and wholesome success.    

Iconic Stores Are Bracing for the Worst 

In some cases, however, other brands aren’t able to say the same and agree to the above situations. Companies like Walmat are expecting to take a big hit on profits this season due to back to school being one of their bigger anchors of money-making success. 

Normally, families are used to walking into the store in mid-July with aisles and aisles aligned with all of the new school supplies imaginable to a child. Now what are the aisles going to be supplemented with? Or are there going to be aisles filled with the same supplies left untouched? 

Most recently, they began airing a campaign with a boy attending school alone with all of his new gear. While the ad deems to be more accurate, this also may not be what consumers are looking to see when shopping for new products. 

If anything, the tech department in Walmart may see a substantial increase in sales. With more parents working from home and students needing to stay connected, new technology is now more of a need than ever before.  

While Other Stores Hope for a Financial Revival

Brands like Macy’s and Nordstrom need a financial revival after layoffs took a smack on the two businesses earlier this spring. Like so many other businesses, back-to-school season is a huge time for them to be able to sell the latest fashions and gateway into the fall season. 

In much of America, stores are reeling due to major COVID-19 hotspots popping up all over the country. Some states are threatening reversal of opening procedures or haven’t opened yet at all. Stores are filled with inventory unobtainable, especially when areas are closed and there are fewer customers walking through the doors. With the spread of the virus, it also raises the fear of the safety of both the employees and shoppers that no company wants to be held liable.    

They aren’t the only ones either. So many stores and services have taken a deep dive in profits and clients that this will only project further lashback in the months ahead. While so many are looking to pivot and still understand the crisis, it’s also hard to gauge where the economy will be headed in the future. Much is to be seen during the rest of the year, which will only come in time.  

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