It seems summer has just begun, but the 2016 back-to-school shopping season is underway. The July to September months are posed to bring in a record-breaking $540 billion in sales, which, while somewhat down from last year, is a 3.3% increase from 2015.
Most brands and retailers rely on traditional marketing to capitalize on this lucrative season, however including event marketing can get your business a larger return. Event marketing is proven to be a highly effective means for building both customer relationships and bottom lines. In fact, the Event Marketing Institute reports 74% of consumers are more likely to buy as a result of event marketing.
A changing back-to-school shopper demographic
Back-to-school marketing has changed over the past several years. An AdWeek article recently offered insight when marketing to Generation X parents and their Generation Z students. “Brands targeting Gen Z will be best served by exposing their relatable sides, their human touch and their willingness to put the brand in the background for the sake of just being playful.” On the other hand, much of the advice for marketing to Gen X shoppers is all over the board. Businesses have long been confused by this group, once deemed lazy and not worth the effort. But Gen X has spending power—more than any other generation, according to American Express. It’s important to note two underlying characteristics among this group: the significance of value and a high priority on family.
Closing the generational gap
Your back-to-school marketing platform will, and should, appeal to Gen X parents focused on value. However, around half of parents allow their kids to “make or influence final back to school purchases.” Marketing efforts should appeal to Gen Z with a human touch and allow them to interact with a brand in-person. This kind of intimacy can also foster longer-lasting brand love that extends beyond the season.
Event marketing is the best way to deliver a comprehensive experience to wow shoppers and earn their back-to-school dollars. In addition, the Eyeview survey finds that “49% of students and 82% of parents make about half of back to school buys in-store.” A marketing event can attract even more shoppers to your location. Once you have them, an engaging experience keeps them in your store and can increase the amount that they spend.[Tweet “Event marketing can meet the #BTS #shopping needs of #GenX and #GenZ.”]
4 great ways to drive back-to-school traffic in-store
Read below to learn some of the simplest and most high-impact ways to use event marketing and increase your back-to-school market share. And take note: event marketing is not limited to one season! Consider these tips to be best practices that can help your brand use marketing events to drive revenue at any time of the year.
Host special in-store only events
Know what FOMO is? It’s the “Fear of Missing Out,” and Gen Z has it bad. Retailers should take advantage of FOMO anxiety by hosting in-store events students can’t afford to miss. When planning and execution are carefully done, the benefits of event marketing are both immediate and ongoing. Sales and in-store traffic will get a significant boost and the power of social sharing can amplify the brand love your event created.
- The Event Marketing Institute reports 72% of consumers “positively view brands that provide quality event content opportunities and experiences.”
- 98% of consumers “create digital or social content at events and experiences.”
- 100% of these consumers will “share the content.”
- Vision Critical reports that social media drives in-store purchasing, with “half of social media-related purchasing” taking “place within 1 week of sharing or favoriting the ultimately-purchased item.”
Help your customers share your event by setting up a photo booth or another method to create content. Show value for parents by offering incentives, promotions and/or prizes.
Get professional brand ambassadors on-site
More and more companies are recognizing the value of great brand ambassadors. They are enlisting customers, employees and others to share their brand passion and help garner business. Professional brand ambassadors that fully embody your brand can be even more beneficial than relying on fans. These individuals are hand-picked to share your messages exactly how you intended. They provide the personal brand touch that Gen Z desires.
Hiring brand ambassadors yourself can be a significant undertaking. However, an event staffing company can help by supplying the right people specifically for your brand. In addition to staff and event management, the company ensures the event staff are properly trained and focused. This preparation helps to create a positive experience for parents and kids alike. Event staff also allow regular employees to stay focused on transactions and other critical responsibilities.[Tweet “Gen X has spending power—more than any other generation.”]
Incorporate product sampling and demos
If there’s one thing binding Gen X parents and Gen Z kids, it’s their attention to detail in purchasing decisions. A report published in the Journal of Behavioral Studies in Business states, “Generation X wants to hear the features of the product as well as an explanation of why these features are necessary.” Entrepreneur.com remarks on the amount of research Gen Z performs and the significance of quality in their decisions.
Retailers meet the needs of parents and kids when their in-store events, and even daily outreach, includes demonstrations and/or provides product samples. And while try-before-you-buy is great for consumers, this type of event marketing can also boost your bottom line. Costco is a great sampling success story. They have experienced, for example, more than 500% increase in lipstick and mascara sales as a result of sampling, as reported by Inc.com.
Open a pop-up shop
Pop-up shops are here to stay and for good reason. Online-only retailers can engage their audience face-to-face and establish a personal connection. Consumers can see and touch the products—something that still goes a long way for many in the purchasing process (think Gen X). For brick-and-mortar stores seeking to amplify their reach, pop-ups allow them to test new areas and/or capitalize on the high traffic of popular ones.
Wherever the business “lives,” retailers are finding success with pop-ups. Pop-up shops save money—80% according to Storefront’s blog—as opposed to a “traditional retail store.” Plus, they generate greater revenue. Forbes.com reports the average pop-up shop “sees a 35% increase in sales from doors open to 6 months after doors close.” If executing your own pop-up shop seems daunting, an event staffing company can help there too. They provide sales-focused talent and can handle most logistics.
Applying any or all of these 4 tips to your back-to-school marketing efforts can help ensure that shoppers feel the love – and are inspired spend their money with you!