The kids want their summer back

July 25, 2013By Assortment Planning and Placement, Behind the Shelf Blog

back-to-school items

by Jen Johnston

Ah, summer is finally in full swing. The kids are finally out of school. Time for hot weather, vacations, bar-b-ques, and. . .back-to-school promotions? Perhaps I am just paying more attention in 2013, but back-to-school advertising seems to be happening earlier than ever. In fact, some retailers began their promotions on school supplies as early as mid-June!

I suppose you could say that this is the result of Christmas creep. With Christmas promotions now beginning in early October, Halloween promotions must be moved to August, pushing back-to-school promotions to early summer.

As a marketing professional, it absolutely does make some sense to me to fill shoppers’ baskets with school supplies as early as possible. However, as a consumer, it just does not feel right. And I’m not the only one. My Facebook feed is filled with posts from frustrated friends complaining about retailers not letting families enjoy their summers but instead pressuring them into believing it is already almost over. College-bound high school graduates may be the only ones truly excited to think about going back to school while it’s still June.

Families also continue to be on tighter budgets that do not allow them the luxury of buying merchandise they won’t put to use for two months. There seems to be a consumer backlash brewing!

One of my colleagues had an innovative idea yesterday. He said a savvy retailer would hold off on back-to-school, Halloween, and Christmas promotions until the truly appropriate seasons and then build a marketing campaign around that. Imagine a retailer promoting real family values – “Spend summer having fun with your family – not worrying about school supplies. We’ll offer some amazing deals beginning August 15.” or “Getting back to the real meaning of Christmas – our pledge = no holiday marketing until Black Friday.”

This approach might really resonate with the folks who prefer to live in the actual season and not three months ahead.


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