August – that time of year when kids (and parents) are savoring the last of the lazy days of summer. In a few weeks, it’ll be back to early mornings, heavy backpacks, lunchboxes and homework. But before that, the traditional Fall ritual of back-to-school shopping.
When I was in school, my parents would buy the first Sunday paper in August to compare ads from various retailers. They would meticulously make a list of where to buy each of our school supplies at the lowest possible price. I still smile when I think of the sheets of ad papers and handmade lists strewn over our kitchen table.
Fast forward 20 years, when print/paper is passé and 72% of American adults and 90% of Millennials own smartphones, which we check more than 45 times a day. So it’s no surprise that this year, 85% of parents are using smartphones to help with back-to-school shopping and 9 in 10 parents say that mobile coupons are determining where they shop for school supplies. 71% of parents are planning to use retailer apps before making a purchase, 66% use mobile apps to compare prices and 64% use them to find out about sales.
Mobile is dramatically and undeniably altering how parents search for back to school shopping, but most parents are still doing their shopping at actual brick and mortar stores. In fact, 80% of parents surveyed said that at least 70% of their back to school purchases will happen in-store. This is an interesting juxtaposition – and one that brands can use to initiate the key transition from transaction-based interactions to full-on loyalty programs. Let’s look at a few examples of brands that are successfully leveraging the back-to-school season to create authentic relationships with shoppers via loyalty programs, rebates and digital rewards.
Snipp recently launched a family-friendly, animal-themed loyalty program for Barbara’s, where shoppers receive points for purchase and non-purchase behaviors such as watching videos and downloading activities. These points can be redeemed not only for physical prizes, such as animal plush toys and animal-themed activity books, but also to adopt endangered animals, like puffins, from the National Wildlife Foundation. Barbara’s loyalty program reflects their commitment to educating and inspiring young people to become stewards of wildlife. Millennial Moms, who spend a significant amount of time posting and sharing on social media networks and place a higher value on brands that value social causes, are certainly going to be excited about this cause. Not only that, but the rewards are built in such a way that kids would be eager to share, too. Just image a child bringing in a Puffin adoption certificate to show-and-tell.
Georgia-Pacific and Zebra Pens are using digital rebates to provide added value this back-to-school season. Georgia-Pacific is giving shoppers a $5 Visa reward if they purchase at least $25 worth of qualifying products at a participating retailer and submit a picture of their receipt via e-mail, website or MMS. Similarly, Zebra Pens is providing a $5 rebate to shoppers who purchase at least $10 worth of Zebra Pen products at qualifying retailers.
Since these rebates are being powered by the SnippCheck receipt processing platform, retailers are receiving key information about shoppers, thereby adding to their CRM customer base and making it easier to retarget these shoppers at the post-purchase stage. For example, Zebra Pens could retarget these back-to-school customers in November (right before final exams begin) by offering them a customized mobile coupon with a message saying something like, “Here’s a little surprise to help you get through those final exams!”
Frito-Lay and Rite Aid are leveraging SnippRewards to drive sales while giving shoppers valuable discounts on fun family activities like the zoo and the movies. Frito-Lay snacks are lunchbox hits, so many parents are already buying these products as part of their back-to-school food shopping. Now, shoppers are being rewarded for these purchases with free kids passes to participating zoos, simply by submitting a picture of their receipt on a website. Similarly, Rite Aid is rewarding shoppers who purchase $10 worth of qualifying products with Finding Dory movie rewards through Fandango.
Programs like these are turning transactions into relationships, and helping families plan fun and wholesome family activities throughout the school year – a win for both parents and kids. Not only that, but they provided added value for purchases that parents typically make. Marketers should take note and plan mobile-first, omni-channel strategies to bridge the gap between mobile searches and in-store purchases to foster authentic relationships.
Disha Shah, Snipp Interactive