Getting top marks with back to school


Thought piece:

Getting top marks with Back to School

BTS 2018 /

With 8.5 million children going back to school in September across the UK, £1.48 billion will be spent on the occasion. These purchases include uniforms, equipment and, of course, lunch boxes. Half of parents will turn to supermarkets for uniform items, and parents ages 18-34 will spend the most on lunch boxes. Mums see the new school term as an opportunity to turn over a new leaf. 59% vow to make their children healthier, promising to prepare healthier lunch boxes.¹ However, more than half of parents are influenced by their child when purchasing BTS items, leading to impulse buying. 55% also say adverts help them choose what to buy (vs 35% national average).²

In such a cluttered and busy period, FMCG brands fight for share of voice and must look for clever ways to achieve growth in order to make the most of this key trading event. As BTS is well and truly approaching, we take a look at some of the key DOs and DON’Ts for brands.

1. DO keep mum in mind

It’s important to remember who you’re speaking to at this time and what their mindset is. Mum is likely to have a lot of things to consider as she preps for BTS and therefore her dwell time in-store may be relatively low. By keeping your message simple and punchy, it’s likely to have more of an impact with mum.

Also consider your packaging and the way your SKUs may be merchandised on shelf. Brand blocking with simple packaging is one way to help your products stand out in a busy aisle.

Finally, BTS is an expensive time for mum and she’s looking to make savings where possible. Don’t forget to highlight price promotions where you can and also consider offering mum an extra incentive to buy. We would suggest mechanics such as ‘50% extra free’ on pack, a money-back guarantee or a competition to win money off the next shop.

2. DON’T jump in to retailer event packages

Whilst there are some upsides of being endorsed by a retailer through being a part of their event, be wary of event packages that may not deliver the level of branding you need but instead force you to compete for share of voice vs other brands.

Many event creatives can be pack shot led and actually not provide an opportunity to showcase your USPs and brand look and feel. Also, the danger of participating in an event package is that your competitors may have equal or more share on the creative than you, meaning there’s little incentive for a shopper to be convinced to buy your product over theirs.

Finally, many event packages come in Gold, Silver or Bronze tiers. The problem with this is sometimes it can feel like you’re being shoehorned into one tier based on your budget, which may offer media that doesn’t actually meet your objectives. Our top tip would be to not compromise if you’re not unlocking the commercial gains you need to succeed and drive real value for your brand.

3. DO be smart with secondary space

Secondary display space ensures your product is positioned in the most key, easy-to-shop locations out of aisle. Shoppers will often look for the best value deals in these prime spots.

As part of an event, retailers will frequently offer additional secondary space, which is incremental to usual traded space.

In order to make the most of this, you should be thinking about how to leverage your marketing investment to improve your sales fundamentals in-store. If you’re going to invest significantly in marketing activity with a retailer, it’s important to maximise the power of your spend and use it to negotiate better space. This approach is almost certain to improve your return on investment.

4. DON’T forget about .com

Don’t forget that retailer events don’t just take place in-store, but they also take place online and in recent years have had more of a feature on sites.

With BTS being aimed mostly at mum, it’s important to remember that online shopping is very well suited to time-pressed mums, who are able to browse, compare prices, read reviews and shop outside of normal shopping hours, all at their convenience.

For these reasons, we would advise brands not to forget about gaining some feature space online at the time. Remember that it can be difficult for brands to feature on retailer event pages, which tend to be quite corporate or own label led, but there’s still plenty of opportunities to feature in high traffic areas like favourites or search

5. DON’T just think about traditional channels

As the store is going to be pretty cluttered, it’s important to consider all media options and assess these against your objectives for the event.

Remember to think outside the box. It’s likely to be the traditional retailer owned media channels that will have templates or restrictions surrounding the event, but there are plenty of non-retailer owned channels to explore.

Digital and OOH channels can be well placed to deliver against shopper objectives and importantly are measurable. From digital apps to mobile messaging and ATM advertising, there’s a wealth of media opportunities that can be considered outside of the traditional shopper channels.

If you’d like to understand more, give us a shout at