Segmenting Back to School Shopping

Back-to-school (BTS) shopping is poised for record sales in 2017, according to forecasts released by eMarketer, but not all demographics partake in BTS the same way. We used E-Score Brand to look at how moms, fashionistas, and college students differ in their sentiments toward various retail brands and found notable differences.

Moms Drive Back to School Shopping

For back to school shopping, the largest target audience is moms of children under eighteen years old. With this in mind, we looked at several brand categories in E-Score Brand to gauge which brands moms gravitate towards most to outfit their family for the next year.


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  • With Appeal of 64%, Kohl’s is the most appealing department and off-price department store in this group. One mom describes the store as having, “Great styles and great prices. Lots of sales year round,” making it an ideal BTS shopping destination.


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  • Although Kohl’s is the most appealing brick and mortar department store to moms, Amazon is still the behemoth and leads all retail stores in Appeal at 88%. The online site also ranks highest for One of My Favorites among this group with a score nine points higher than its next closest competitor, Target.


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  • For smaller, lifestyle-clothing retailers Old Navy is the most popular and appealing among moms with Awareness at 84% and Appeal at 60%. H&M is also very popular earning the highest Brand Loyalty at 65% among this demographic, one point off their Brand Loyalty score among fashionistas.


Gearing Up for School with Fashionistas

Another group with a major impact on BTS shopping is fashionistas. We used E-Score Brand to understand which brands and brand categories were most important to this fashion conscious group.


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  • Fashionistas enjoy shopping at high end department stores more than the other demographic groups, registering higher Appeal scores for Nordstrom (39%, 8 points higher than moms)), Saks Fifth Avenue (32%, +15 percentage points vs moms), and Neiman Marcus (25%, +6 percentage points), however they still find bargains more appealing as TJ Maxx (57%), Ross (57%), and Marshalls (56%) all score much higher for Appeal.


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  • Among this group, school supplies come second to beauty as Sephora leads back to school specialty retail stores in Appeal (58%), Brand Loyalty (78%), and being Better Than Competitors (43%).


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  • H&M will likely be a major outfitter of fashionistas this BTS season as the retailer tops all lifestyle-clothing stores in Appeal at 53% and Brand Loyalty at 66%. It is also ranks highest for Brand Consideration among fashionistas who have never shopped there.


Shopping for University

Back to School shopping has a huge effect on one major demographic group, college students and college-age people. As many of them are beginning to spend their own money for the first time, we used E-Score Brand to see which retailers this demographic group is drawn to.


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  • For college students, affordability and style are keys to where they purchase clothing. For these reasons, lifestyle-clothing retailer Forever 21 is a favorite among this group with Appeal of 57%, and Brand Loyalty at 67%, both tops in the category.


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  • As with moms and fashionistas, Amazon is a college student’s best friend as the retailer scores highest for all retailers with an Appeal of 88% and Brand Loyalty of 91%. College students praise the brand saying “[it’s] cheap, [has] options and [is] fast,” and “[it’s] where I buy all my stuff from.”


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  • Staples is a staple for the college community (no pun intended), as the specialty retailer has an Awareness of 60% among this group, and of those aware 78% Have Purchased from Staples before with Brand Loyalty at 58%, which all lead the specialty retail category.



Back to school is one of the biggest seasons for retail brands and understanding how specific target demographics feel about your brand, and competitors, provides an edge. E-Score Brand compiles consumer sentiments towards brands and allows you to track your brand and view normative data on your industry or audience.

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  • Data source: E-Score Brand fielded after 1/1/2016
  • Back to School Moms represent female respondents who indicated they have at least one child under 18 in the home.
  • Fashionistas represent respondents who agree that current styles/fashion are important to them.
  • College students represent college age respondents; ages 18-24.



Feel free to utilize these infographics in your social shares or other uses. To download, simply click the images and right-click, or pull the full sized images.

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