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Rakuten Study Finds 75% of Consumers Actively Seek Offers on 2021 Back-to-School Shopping

July 22, 2021 GMT
Rakuten logo (PRNewsfoto/Rakuten Americas)
Rakuten logo (PRNewsfoto/Rakuten Americas)

SAN MATEO, Calif., July 22, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- A Rakuten survey released today points towards a buoyant back-to-school shopping season for retailers, both online and at their physical locations, when shoppers receive extra incentives throughout the shopping journey.

The performance marketing leader found that 75% of shoppers plan to seek out offers for back-to-school shopping. The top categories parents are hoping to find discounts for are clothes for back-to-school shoppers (29%) and electronics for back-to-college shoppers (25%), with parents saying they plan to spend between $250-500 on back-to-school shopping this year, starting in July.

Rakuten’s 2021 Back-to-School Shopping Survey, which surveyed over 1,000 parents of U.S. grade school, high school and college students, provides insights about the new reality of how they shop, find the best deals, what inspires purchasing decisions and more.


“As consumers start to look past COVID-19, retailers and brands need to recalibrate their marketing to factor in evolution from traditional Back-to-School shopping to a new reality of consumer behavior,” said Amit Patel, Chief Executive Officer of Rakuten Americas. “We expect parents to make up for lost time after a year in quarantine, creating optimal conditions for marketers to influence consumers. Our survey shows that the leading ways to do this is through advertising, trusted social media influencers, and discounts and rewards that give consumers confidence they have found a great deal.”

Other key findings from the Rakuten 2021 Back-to-School Shopping Survey include:


  • Parents are willing to open their pocketbooks to a refresh for their children this year: With students finally returning to schoolrooms, parents will replace traditional school supplies and ‘size up’ on outdated, outgrown clothing – especially after a year when in-classroom supplies and new styles weren’t needed. Backpacks, notebooks, pens and pencils top the priority list (27%), followed by clothing (24%). Still, the COVID mindset lingers, with hygiene and cleanliness items coming in as the third most important purchasing category this year versus number one last year (23%).
  • Brick and mortar stores are set to rebound: With vaccines widely available and pandemic restrictions eased, parents overwhelmingly plan to return to in-store back-to-school shopping, with 89% doing at least some shopping in-store and citing Cash Back as the top incentive to return (23%). Nearly 60% of parents said that they are very comfortable with in-store shopping, though many still want to take basic precautions – 33% said they are more comfortable in stores with safety measures such as mask requirements, hand sanitizer and contactless payment options.
  • Shoppers are ready to spend, but incentives close the deal: In the wake of the pandemic’s economic impact and threats of inflation, money-conscious parents are focused on uncovering savings as they shop for back-to-school this year. Seventy-five percent of consumers will often or always seek out offers for back-to-school shopping. Nearly 20% of parents turn to curated sites, apps or browser extensions as their primary source for finding deals, rewards and discounts (e.g., Rakuten, Affirm, Coupon Cabin).
  • As shopping habits change to a hybrid of in-person and at-home buying, advertising is more important than ever to inspire shopping decisions: Parents who prize convenience are looking for back-to-school shopping ideas and discounts alongside the content they’re already consuming. A quarter of parents will rely on online, TV or streaming TV advertisements for shopping ideas, citing online ads as their primary source of inspiration, outside of requests from their children.
  • Social influencers aren’t just for teens and fashion. Parents increasingly gravitate to social media to learn what’s hot: Rakuten’s data showed that the uniquely intimate relationships that influencers have with their audiences builds trust in product recommendations far beyond teenage priorities. In fact, seventy-four percent of parents have purchased an item through a link or image in a post by a social media influencer. Instagram (27%) and Facebook (25%) are parents’ preferred platforms for following their favorite influencers.

“Marketers need to invest in strategies that motivate consumers to spend by implementing a cross-funnel strategy for meeting customers where they are -- whether that’s in-store, online or both,” continued Patel. “In an era when consumers prize authenticity and privacy, shoppers will welcome customized, native opt-in experiences like targeted cash back rewards, affiliate marketing, online advertising and influencer engagement throughout their shopping journey.”

Among the world’s largest e-commerce companies, Rakuten is highly invested in driving innovation and leadership in performance marketing. Through its Americas headquarters in San Mateo, Rakuten offers a suite of leading performance marketing solutions that reach, engage and inspire consumers around the world, and deliver results across the entire consumer journey.

To learn more about Rakuten’s performance marketing solutions that can help merchants stand out this back-to-school season, click here.

About Rakuten Americas
Rakuten Americas is the North American division of Rakuten, Inc., (Japan), a global leader in internet services that empower individuals, communities, businesses and society. Headquartered in San Mateo, California with more than 2,400 employees nationwide, the Rakuten Americas business portfolio includes market leaders in e-commerce, digital marketing, advertising, business intelligence, logistics, communications and entertainment. We create products and services that provide exceptional value by aligning members and the businesses that want to engage them in a shared community. Visit http://rakuten.us for more information.

CONTACT: Lisa Tadje, lisa.tadje@rakuten.com

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SOURCE Rakuten Americas