In order to capture some of the predicted $68 billion in back to school sales, brands are turning more and more to new media solutions and data-backed insights.
Back to school season, with more than $68 billion in total sales at stake, is the second-biggest season for retailers like JC Penney, Target and Macy’s. In order to generate and capture as many leads as possible during this time, companies are increasingly turning to new media solutions and data-backed insights.
One of the most dominant strategies seen this year is an attempt to seize attentions of back-to-school shoppers through new media channels. JC Penney is using venues like YouTube to not just bring attention to their brand, but also to encourage children to celebrate each other’s style in an effort to combat one form of bullying. “We know that kids are critical of each other,” says JC Penney’s senior VP of Marketing Kirk Waidelich. “We want to spin that around and turn it into inspiration around compliments.”
The brand is highlighting this positive energy with a social media campaign called “National Shoutout Day” held on August 12 where kids are encouraged to say nice things about their classmate’s style on channels like Instagram. JC Penney is also motivating children to seek out unique styles and “Bend the Trend” with their mix-and-match online game.
Using New Media Big Names to Create Big Bucks
Macy’s will also be leveraging social media to drive viral shares and bring awareness to some of their more competitive back-to-school promotions. A cover of the Jackson Five’s seminal “I Want You Back” by the a cappella group Pentatonix will be featured in an ad intended to target teens and their nostalgic parents.
Also looking to the power of a solid Jackson Five cover, Target ads will feature a rendition of “ABC” by social media darling Tori Kelly. Target intends to offer the song as a download coupled with a cause-related push. Every song purchase funds $5 in school supply donations to the Kids in Need Foundation.
The Tori Kelly ads will be accompanied by other ads starring popular YouTube subjects: EvanTubeHD of toy unboxing fame and young dancer Maddie Ziegler, who starred in Sia’s “Chandelier” music video that has more than 830 million views.
“Kids are looking to other kids for the latest on what’s on trend and what’s stylish,” explains Target’s SVP-Marketing Rick Gomez. “We wanted to leverage these kid influencers.”
Target joins brands like Old Navy in an effort to “produce content that lives outside TV,” in the words of Old Navy CMO Ivan Wicksteed. His goal is to create “more organic content that people want to watch.”
Throughout these campaigns, brands and their marketing teams will be monitoring social buzz and behavioral actions to measure effectiveness and predict success for next year’s back to school season. Social listening and historical data analytics when combined are a powerful tool that can enable brands to “actually see and understand how sentiment, emotion, and actions have changed; determine what is influencing that change; and make adjustments as needed,” in the words of Clarabridge CEO Sid Banerjee. Ironically, this capability means that brands will be learning the most in a period when students are heading back to class.