Which trend-setters will shape back-to-school marketing in 2016?
Believe it or not, it's not too soon to start planning your back-to-school marketing strategy. Columnist Adam Weiss says now is the time to engage the right influencers to ensure a successful back-to-school shopping season.
School isn’t even out, but marketers are already finalizing their strategies for the upcoming shopping frenzy that precedes each new scholastic year.
Data from Bizrate Insights, a division of Connexity, shows that more than half of consumers will kick off their back-to-school shopping between late July and early August, meaning brands still have time to secure a critical piece of their back-to-school strategies — connecting with leading influencers who have the power to reach their target audience.
As a parent, I’m on the lookout for influencers who can help me re-create top trends for less. As a strategic leader for an affiliate marketing company, I’m on the lookout for opportunities to help advertisers collaborate with those influencers to optimize back-to-school performance.
Kid celebrities are among the most valuable influencers for brand adoption. However, the influence is not limited to kid-to-kid.
Rakuten Marketing (my employer) conducted a survey of parents this year, showing over a quarter (27 percent) have purchased an item after seeing a celebrity’s child wearing it. While the survey audience was based in the UK, the list of celebrity children with the most fashion influence included: North West, Suri Cruise and Blue Ivy Carter.
Turning just three years old in June, North West has quickly become a fixture of her parent’s life in the spotlight and is considered to be a “style icon” for children both in the states and across the pond. The internet consistently dubs these celebrity children as trendsetters, starring in various tribute and fashion blogs.
Partnering with celebrity influencers, both young and old, gives brands the ability to shape back-to-school trends and optimize affiliate performance. For example, working with publisher partners to highlight your brand’s looks appearing on George and Charlotte in pictures with their mother, the Duchess of Cambridge, can quickly lead to an influx in sales.
If your brand isn’t being donned by celebrity endorsers, working with publishers to show consumers how to “re-create the look for less” with your products can be a powerful tool for aligning your brand with the must-have looks for the upcoming school year.
Of course, celebrities are also able to use their star power to boost a brand’s digital presence directly. One example of this was Rihanna’s partnership with luxury shoe designer Manolo Blahnik.
The brand was slow to jump on the digital train and needed some exposure to kick-start its online offerings. A perfectly timed partnership with the pop singer led to her custom-designed collection to sell out and even crash the brand’s website.
Social media and micro-influencers
Facebook is the most influential platform when it comes to guiding parents’ fashion purchase decisions. A study Rakuten Marketing conducted in the UK showed that nearly one in four parents consults the social network when looking for inspiration to fill their children’s closets.
Instagram’s visual design makes it an effective medium for displaying products in a native environment, where users are actively seeking inspiration from the friends and influencers they’ve curated for their personality and lifestyle.
The “micro-influencers” on Instagram have a unique connection with consumers, as illustrated by their high engagement rates. Establishing an affiliate partnership with one of these influencers could be the best way for brands to market heading into the back-to-school season.
Mommy bloggers are influencers who are already creating content that is being avidly followed by parents, and the back-to-school shopping season is no exception. Brands looking to reach Millennial moms can partner with these bloggers to insert products into the influencer’s photogenic lifestyle.
Naturally, e-commerce brands are eager to create digital ties with these influencers. Large readerships, high Alexa scores and loyal followers make them celebrities in their own right. The remunerative aspect to affiliate marketing makes it an ideal partnership for all parties involved.
School’s out for the summer!
As kids anxiously await the final bell, brands are already getting first-day jitters as they hone their back-to-school strategies, including how to amplify them through influential publishers and partnerships that reach the ideal target audience.
Now is the time to begin collaborating with your affiliate partners to establish the best plan of action for this year, including which celebrities to monitor, which products to prioritize and which promotions resonate best with the affiliates closest to your target back-to-school audience.
Historically, we have found that footwear, apparel, electronics and sporting goods are top products for advertisers to prioritize, depending on the time of summer.
As a parent, I’m looking to my go-to influencers to help prepare my kids for a confident start to the 2016–17 school year. As a marketer, I’m looking for brands to effectively reach parents like me with information to meet my needs — and win advertisers an A+ in marketing ROI before the school year even starts.