Why you must act quickly to capture 2023’s reduced back-to-school spending and how social proof messaging can help

Alison Wiltshire

13 Jul 2023

In its latest annual back-to-school survey published this week, Deloitte revealed that back-to-school spending per child will tumble by 10% to $597 this summer. It comes as consumers reassess their spending and focus on replenishing the necessities rather than investing in tech or clothing.  

68% of parents plan to spend the same or less, and of those spending less, half (51%) blame reduced disposable income. The report also reveals that by the end of July, 59% of back-to-school shopping will be complete, up from 53% last year. 

 Overall, parents are looking to economize – hunting for good deals and shopping early to ensure they get the right product at the right time to stay within budget. As a result, parents need more persuading than ever that what they are buying is worth the money they are spending. 

On a more positive note, the report also shows that almost six in ten parents say they will still splurge, spending more to treat their child or allowing them to express themselves, for example. And this is more likely to be in the sectors where other parents have cut back – tech and clothing. 

With the back-to-school market now down 9% year-on-year to $31.2 billion, the competition for spend in 2023 is fiercer than ever. Coupled with parents shopping earlier, retailers must act quickly to do all they can to capture that expenditure. 

Using social proof messaging as part of your back-to-school approach can help. It narrows down overwhelming product choice, can encourage parents to shop earlier by keeping them up to date with stock levels and gives them increased confidence to buy. 

And it can be implemented quickly too. Our cloud-native solution based on APIs takes only days to implement rather than weeks, and results can also be seen quickly. 

Social proof messaging also improves the customer experience, which is vital to winning sales in today’s ultra-competitive environment. An improved customer experience provides an important route for revenue growth, and social proof is the secret sauce that can enable that. 

So, while monetary value is top-of-mind, time-poor customers are also looking at the value of their wider interaction with retailers and choosing those that make it easiest for them to shop. That means they will gravitate towards retailers who are engaging and provide all the information they need to make informed purchases and easy returns.  

Helping parents make the best decisions on their back-to-school purchases

Our social proof messaging displays real-time on-page messages that can be integrated at any point in the online shopping journey – from the product list page to the product details page or even the basket page to prompt the final purchase. It can also be integrated into your social media marketing for discovery and inspiration or into emails and display ads for retargeting.

Whether targeting budget-conscious shoppers or those that are still planning to splurge, one thing remains certain. Back-to-school shopping is never easy. Questions that social proof can help answer includes:

1) Is it popular?

Students will most likely want to follow the latest trends as their classmates – whether that’s the style of backpack or the latest laptop. Social proof messaging can help to highlight popular bought and browsed products, showing trending and bestselling items, and more. .

2) How does it rate for quality, value and suitability?

As they look to spend less, parents will be more conscious than ever of the quality and value equation. Social messaging incorporating aggregated reviews to share views on product quality or that indicates others’ view of fit can let shoppers know how others have rated items for different attributes that you choose to set – from sustainability to durability, as well as fit.

3) Can I still get hold of it?

With shoppers buying earlier, highlighting what’s selling quickly can ensure they don’t miss out on products. By linking Taggstar with your real-time data, we present an accurate picture of product popularity or availability to your customers, which can give them the additional information they might need to decide when to buy. Nudges on the PDP and Basket page can also encourage customers to buy early, enabling them to budget their spending better. 

The benefits of social proof messaging for the back-to-school customer

As well as answering key questions, social proof messaging can better engage customers in what can be a stressful shopping experience. Responding to such needs can generate improved brand perception, translating into longer-term trust and loyalty. And that perception is vital regarding how consumers feel about a brand. A recent survey in the US suggests that almost half (46%) of US consumers say the biggest driver of brand perception is the brand’s website.

And, of course, social proof messaging has a positive impact on your conversion rate as well as many other important metrics. Our experiments with social proof show that we consistently deliver significant conversion rate uplifts for our customers. We can ensure better progression through the customer journey too.

Delivering a range of metrics

Social proof messaging scores in other ways, helping retailers increase important metrics ranging from basket size to products viewed and added to basket, meaning that you will likely win more of that customer’s back-to-school spending.

Importantly get the experience right, and you stand the chance of winning not only 2023’s back-to-school spending but each year as their child progresses through their education. And that’s got to put you top of the class.

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