A Family Affair—Chipping in at Back-to-School Sales

Adolescence brings all sorts of wonderful gifts to the family unit, but it also can bring new life lessons like responsibility, sharing and contributing, among others.
One time of the year when this come to the fore is back-to-school when teens can contribute to what can be an expensive experience in restocking for the new school year.
“Many teens have summer jobs and those who want to help their parents out don’t just work to provide funds for parties and other entertainment pursuits,” says Antonia Aristizabal, teacher and mother of four. “This is especially true in two areas; buying new clothes for school – where students have very distinct tastes, often quite different than their parents–and in electronics, where they will always want the top model which might not be practical when it comes to the family budget.”
Sales consultants have heard this conversation in-store more than once.
Mom: “This model is on sale at a price we can afford.”
Teen:” “I’d rather have this one here; way more memory, better video card, better bundle overall. I’ll be able to do way more with it in school (to say nothing of all those new electronic games which, conveniently, aren’t mentioned here).”
Mom: “If you want that one, you’ll have to make up the difference with your summer money.”
Teen: “Deal.”
This is only part of the process. Both Mom and off-spring have been checking out the store flyers for weeks; Mom tracking the sales items and her beloved student doing likewise with the more elaborate models.
“Studying family back-to-school purchase patterns is what we do at Staples,” says Elena Delli Pizzi, category manager at Staples Canada. “That is especially true when there are more than one child returning to school; return to classes can prove to be prohibitively expensve for some families, especially with two or more kids preparing for the new school year. We have great options and prices right across the spectrum, especially in technology, and that includes tablets, 2-in-1s, laptops, electronic calculators of all sorts and smartphones. Mom’s immediate reflex is to seek sales, while her teen-age son and/or daughter seek quality electronics. What they both might not realize is that we have sales prices on tech products and other supplies, year-round.”
Knowing that his or her contribution might mean better quality supplies for a kid brother or sister is a bonus and a well-learned life lesson, and a feeling that they are paying their own way (which they soon will be doing anyway).
“We sell to families, and thus it behooves us to know a lot about them.”
To that end, Staples Canada commissioned a Back-to-School survey of Canadian shoppers–its second in two years–in July.
Among the findings were the following:

  • Eighty-two per cent of students found the in-store experience to be important, well ahead of their parents at 73%;

  • Sixty-seven per cent of students reported that the pressure to follow trends and fashions was important (while their parents came in at 61%);

  • Sixty-four per cent of parents prefer shopping with their kids (up from 62% in 2013).

The take away: Back-to-school is very much a family affair; and all of the participants have well-defined preferences.

By Adam

August 17, 2014