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Back To School and the Blessing of the Backpacks


Back to school is a big deal. It is a big deal for kids and their families – what with supplies, clothes, backpacks there is a lot to buy. As a result back to school is a big deal for retailers.

According to National Retail Federation’s 2012 Back-to-School spending survey conducted by BIGinsight, the average person with children in grades K-12 will spend $688.62 on their children, up from $603.63 last year. Total spending is expected to reach $30.3 billion.

Combined K-12 and college spending will reach $83.8 billion, serving as the second biggest consumer spending event for retailers behind the winter holidays. That’s why this week’s newspaper insert from Target is titled, “Deals On Dorm Stuff”.

But newspaper inserts are not a very effective marketing medium. Newspaper circulation continues its free fall and few if any back to school aged kids even look at the paper.

So what is the best way to connect to your back to school audience? Turns out it’s YouTube.

A series of “haul” videos continue to emerge on YouTube highlighting prices and products at a variety of stores, just in time for back-to-school sales. These clips — which show girls sharing and describing recent product buys, along with ads and other content — will influence 57% of apparel purchases this year, according to a recent study.

Searches for “back to school” on YouTube are already trending higher this year compared with last. They’re up 23% from 2011, although the peak actually hits mid-August. Searches on Google are also higher than last year, up 40%. Searches continue to grow year-on-year since 2010, but 2009 saw a slight spike, potentially due to economic pressure.

Vera Bradley and Pottery Barn Teen have been running back-to-school YouTube promotions and have created themed channels running TrueView ads, which only cost the companies if someone watches more than 30 seconds of the ad, against back-to-school-related searches.

If your brand has not yet jumped into the YouTube back to school frenzy take heart. Of YouTube’s more compelling aspects are low-cost and quick to produce. It’s entirely possible to get a back to school promotion up on YouTube -TOMORROW!

Oh, and the blessing of the backpacks? This is from the bulletin insert at St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church in St. Paul, MN yesterday, “We will again be Blessing the Backpacks at the 10 am service on Sunday, September 9th. Please bring the backpacks  of people you care about so we can bless them as they start the new school year.” I wish this was done when I was in school. My school years required divine intervention more than a couple of times.

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