Back-to-School Electronics Trends, and Tactics to Capture Customers

8/17/2011 11:53:00 AM


According to the National Retail Federation's (NRF) 2011 Back-to-School survey, 52% of families with school-aged children plan to purchase electronics this year. Among college students and their families, electronics will be the largest category for back-to-school retail expenditures. (1)

As a marketer, do you have a back-to-school strategy in place for these consumers? Here are some key 2011 back-to-school consumer trends that you can take advantage of:

Back-to-School shoppers are...

Don't under-estimate the power of the Internet: NRF's survey found that consumers who shop multiple channels will spend 40% more than those who only shop in stores. (1) This is supported by Traqline 2011 data for popular back-to-school products such as laptop computers, where we also find that the higher the price bucket, the more consumers shop online for a product. (2)

In addition, PriceGrabber's recent back-to-school survey found that 69% of consumers plan to shop online for back-to-school this year, as compared to only 23% in 2010. (3)

NRF's survey also shows that 32% of back-to-school and 33% of back-to-college shoppers (Adults 18+) indicated they may also purchase their back-to-school items online this year. The number for back-to-college increases to 46% when you look at the Adults 18-24 category, indicating that college students, who either buy themselves or largely influence back-to-college purchases, may be shopping online for back-to-college purchases even moreso. (1)

Tactics to utilize:
  • Bid aggressively to ensure your products are top of mind during this key retail period when consumers are more actively searching for electronics products
  • Use Ad Extensions - such as Ad Sitelinks, Product Extensions, Location Extensions, etc. - to better distinguish your offering from the competition. Consider creating a separate [Back-to-School] site link for your ads
  • Back-to-School shoppers come in all shapes and sizes, from kids influencing their parents, to college students, to moms, dads, and other family members. Be sure to have a unique strategy to reach these audiences through audience and content targeting strategies, using our AdPlanner tool, on the Google Display Network. Also, be sure to take advantage of our demographic bidding option

The NRF survey shows that 50% of respondents are shopping for back-to-school sales more often this year. In addition, 30% are doing more comparative shopping online. (1) PriceGrabber's survey tells us that 41% of shoppers plan on visiting retailer websites to print out coupons. (3) Finally, Google Insights shows us that the term [back to school sale] not only steeply peaks at this time of year, but search interest has also increased each year. (4)

For consumer electronics specifically, Traqline shows us that, of the consumers who shopped for laptops online in Q3 2010 (67%), 76% did so to compare prices and 61% did so to check for current promotions or sales.

It's official: Back-to-school shoppers use price as a prime consideration factor when purchasing a product, and they love bargains!

Tactics to utilize:
  • Consumers are looking for sales. If you have special back-to-school promotions, highlight them in your ads! Utilize Offer Ads on both desktop and mobile to incentivize consumers to purchase your products
  • Consider bidding on higher funnel terms, such as [back-to-school sale], to be a part of the back-to-school consideration set earlier on in a buyer's purchase process
  • Remarket back-to-school ads and discounts to consumers who have been to your site in the past

On Mobile
A recent Deloitte survey found that 64% of surveyed back-to-school shoppers will use their smartphone during their shopping process. (4) On Google's end, we saw a lift of 500% in mobile searches for retail and consumer electronics categories over the summer months last year. (7)

There's no doubt that mobile is a huge opportunity during the back-to-school season for consumer electronics marketers; the question is, do you have a mobile strategy in place to seize this opportunity?

Tactics to utilize:
If you haven't yet done so, it's not too late to begin on your back-to-school online market strategy. NRF found that 28% of back-to-school shoppers plan on shopping 1-2 weeks right before school begins. (1) Get started today!

Posted by Payal Shah, The Google Technology Markets Team

1) National Retail Federation/BIG Research 2011 Back to School and Back to College Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey
2) Traqline 2011 data for Portable/Notebook Computers category
3) PriceGrabber Back-to-School Shopping Forecast Survey
4) Google Insights for Search, 2004-2011, for search term 'back to school sale'
5) Traqline 2010 data for Portable/Notebook Computers category
6) Deloitte 2011 Back-to-School Shopping Survey
7) Google Internal Data 2009-2011 as referenced in the ‘Mobile Insights’ Google Retail Blog post on 7/18/2011


Mike Rudak said...

Speaking about mobile -- there are new products that really help you advertise to mobile users, including Googles' own mobile catalog. I like AHG's mCatalog ( -- it is more interactive, gives better opportunity to reach the customer and is free. I've been a part of closed beta and waiting to get onto it when it goes open (they promised later this fall)