There’s no doubt that back to school in Ireland is one of the most expensive times of the year. From school bags to uniforms to books, there just seems to always be a long list of things to pay for. And most of those things have to be bought in one short time period making affordability difficult for some families. So what matters to mums when planning for Back to School?
There are different types of parents, some are super organised and buy everything as early as they can to get the Back to School shopping out the way, while other mums are sick of school by June so they just want a break from thinking about it before they get started getting ready for back to school mid August.
I’m more the former than the latter myself but regardless, it’s an expensive time and along with most other Mums I look for ways to reduce the costs, save time and generally make this as easy for myself as possible.
We Surveyed Mums about Back to School
We surveyed parents about Back to School and they shared with us that:
71% of parents have to pay for a branded school uniform for their child’s school
53% of parents spend more than €300 on back to school costs
82% of parents buy new school books for back to school
55% of parents buy items over several months to afford the costs of back to school
35% of parents find books the most expensive Back to School cost
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Researching Online for Back to School
From our survey these were the top 3 items that parents research online to buy for back to school are
1. Lunch boxes
2. School bags
3. School stationery
Other Feedback About Back to School from Mums
“It’s nearly as bad as Christmas 🙁 ”
“Would prefer generic uniform”
“A necessary expense but extremely difficult to meet costs and every year getting more expensive.”
“All uniforms should be non branded. Not very fair when some children grow like weeds and you are buying new every term.”
“Because children use workbooks, they can’t be reused by the next child, and when you are on a budget, this can get quite costly!”
“Eldest child going into secondary school this year so we have school bus fee of €350 which we never had before. Also, book rental in primary reduces book costs. New junior cert curriculum means all new books in secondary. Hoping to get secondary uniform in charity shop.”
“I just find that the cost for back to school just keeps climbing every year. Both mine are in primary and costs just shoot up when they go to secondary..”
“New editions of textbooks are the bane of parents’ lives!”
“School contribution can be very steep!”
“Wish every family was entitled to a grant, it would be so helpful”
“Costs should be spread out until Christmas”
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What Should Businesses Do For Back to School
Here are a few suggestions based on this feedback and my own experience:
Early Bird Offers Do Work
I look at what offers I can avail of, if I am buying things earlier in the back to school season. Brands like M&S Ireland and Eason that we have worked with on Mykidstime, always offer early bird discounts that clearly offer parents savings as well as bringing revenue.
Not everything can be bought early of course, for example, shoes are best left to later in case feet grow, but where you can buy early and avail of discounts it’s always good.
If you are a brand or business offering back to school products and services, look at how you can offer early bird discounts to get earlier purchase in the season. It also helps to ease your fulfilment processes if it’s spread out and not all lumped in August.
Budgeting and Saving for Back to School
Every year I say I’ll start saving in September towards next year’s costs and every year I forget to do this. However, maybe if I were offered savings schemes with brands I might consider paying into them throughout the year to have a pot of money ready to cover the costs.
Look at how you could offer these types of savings schemes to help parents. Or can you create a budgeting tool or checklist that helps parents to manage this? What other ways can you help Mums to spread the cost or to manage this budgeting?
I personally am a busy mum and don’t have time to trek around many retailers looking for different categories of back to school items, so the more I can buy in one place the better as far as I’m concerned.
Look at how you can partner with other businesses to offer other options to fulfil a wider amount of the back to school items.
Or look at your user experience on your website – does it make it super easy for parents to order what they need from you? A slow or complicated process can mean a lost sale.
Extras that help mums and kids
I always look for little extras to help me with my Back to School shopping and my child during school term.
What other extras are there on offer that can help me or my child? For example, easy dressing options for school wear to speed up morning dressing time. Or a free pencil sharpener included with a purchase of pencils to help.
I look at reviews or listen to other mum’s recommendations for key back to school items. For example, lunchboxes, schoolbags, shoes, even jumpers where I would be interested in does it wash well, does it need minimal ironing, is it stain repellent, etc.
How can you get reviews and get Mums recommending to other Mums. Can you offer an extra discount if they give you a review online?
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One final tip
Create and share back to school content that helps Mums out as they get geared up, it’s a good way of building trust and connection with your target customers beyond your sales message.
Connecting your back to school brand, product or service with mothers in an engaging way through social and digital channels is possible, we do it all the time on Mykidstime. We help brands and businesses to connect with Mums. Schedule a call today to have a chat about how to work with Mykidstime.