Rubicon Project’s Second Annual Back-to-School Survey Finds Parents
Starting Earlier, Spending More Than Ever with Record Online and Mobile
LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–This summer, parents across the board will be spending more and shopping
earlier for back-to-school purchases, according to new data from Rubicon
Project’s (NYSE: RUBI) second annual Back-to-School Consumer Pulse
Survey. The survey explored the purchasing intent and shopping habits of
parents of children in grades K-12 and parents with children entering
their freshmen year of college.
Overall, millions of parents – more than a third of all parents (34
percent) and nearly half of college freshman parents in particular (49
percent) – have already started back-to-school shopping. Sixty-one
percent of all parents plan to spend more than they did last year,
spending approximately $917 per child on average. Freshmen parents plan
to spend more than $1,300 per child, twice what the average K-12 parent
plans to spend.
This year, parents plan to spend the bulk of their increased
back-to-school budget on tech-related items. For the first time ever,
most parents plan to skip brick and mortar outlets for their tech
purchases, picking Amazon as their go-to retailer for tech. This year,
adoption of online and mobile shopping has reached a high water mark,
with 60 percent of all parents surveyed planning to use mobile devices
for some back to school shopping – 30 percent plan to do at least a
quarter of their total shopping on mobile devices.
“Back-to-school is one of the biggest shopping events of the year and
parents aren’t afraid to open up their pocketbooks to ensure their
children are best-prepared for the next grade,” said Harry Patz, Chief
Revenue Officer, Rubicon Project. “As parents spend more and begin
shopping earlier than ever, it’s essential for retailers and marketers
to create personalized and precisely targeted campaigns for both moms
and dads geared towards where they are spending a majority of their
time. Parents’ busy schedules have them increasingly turning online and
to their mobile devices to make purchases, transforming the way they
shop for their child’s back-to-school apparel, supplies and technology.”
Parents Spending Most Back-to-School Budget on Tech Purchases
While school supplies and apparel remain top priorities in this year’s
survey, the biggest budget item for both K-12 ($343) and college
freshmen parents was technology ($470). For K-12 parents, apparel ($233)
was the second largest spend, while dorm supplies ($324) were the second
biggest expenditure for parents of college freshmen.
When it comes to how they will shop, more than half of parents surveyed
plan to shop for technology and telecommunications online, while
apparel, school supplies, and food and beverage remain primarily
brick-and-mortar shopping purchases.
This year, Amazon claimed the top spot as parents’ #1 retailer for
technology as parents increasingly turn to the online retailer for major
purchases such as laptops, tablets and other devices. Wal-Mart remained
the top retailer for apparel (66 percent) and school supplies (77
percent). For K-12 parents, Amazon has moved ahead of Staples as the
third most popular destination for school supplies compared with last
year (in 2015 Staples accounted for 39 percent, Amazon 38 percent).
Think Mobile and Online if You Want to Influence Parents
According to this year’s findings, nearly one third (30 percent) of
parents surveyed will do at least 25 percent of their back-to-school
shopping on a mobile device with parents of college freshmen (42
percent) significantly outpacing K-12 parents (25 percent). Dads outpace
moms in mobile purchasing as 41 percent of dads said they will do at
least a quarter of their online shopping on a mobile device, compared to
just 24 percent of moms.
Retailer mobile applications are becoming increasingly popular as almost
half of parents surveyed (47 percent) have the Amazon mobile application
and 40 percent of college-bound freshmen parents utilize at least three
shopping apps. Seventy-one percent of parents plan to use retailer apps
before they make a purchase. Sixty-six percent use mobile apps to
compare prices while 64 percent use them to find out about sales.
Parents are also becoming increasingly comfortable with in-app purchases
with more than a third of all parents allowing their children to make
College Brings Financial Change and Re-evaluation for Many Families
Parents of incoming freshmen will feel the financial strain this summer
as they plan to spend on average $1,378 on their child’s back-to-school
shopping. This number almost doubles the $684 K-12 parents will spend.
In re-evaluating tech purchases, parents intend to spend on average $470
on technology compared to $324 on the dorm room. Thirty-nine percent
will reevaluate their family mobile plan (compared to 24 percent of K-12
parents), nearly half plan to purchase or lease a car for their children
and nearly a quarter (24 percent) are activating a new mobile plan for
their child. A majority of parents will also be helping their child
financially with tuition. 60 percent of parents surveyed said they will
help their child pay for college and 29 percent have college savings
accounts set up for their children. Only slightly more than half (56
percent) say they have saved as much as they wanted to help their child
pay for college.
In further signs of shifting generational attitudes, Millennial parents
are already planning to have their children boomerang back to them after
college. 61 percent think their child will move home, 90 percent are
comfortable with it, and most (57 percent) wouldn’t charge them rent.
Other Significant Survey Findings
Dad’s Love for Tech — Dad is getting more involved in K-12
back-to-school shopping, especially when it comes to technology, but
mom remains the lead shopper across most categories.
Tablets Filling Up the Shopping Cart — Tablets continue to
increase in popularity with tablet purchase intent up overall from
2015 and about half (51 percent) of K-8 parents who are shopping for
tech are shopping for tablets.
In Battle of PC vs. Mac, PC Dominates — PCs (72 percent)
continue to dominate planned computer purchases for parents of both
K-12 and college freshmen. For mobile devices, Android (52 percent)
outpaced iPhone (42 percent) on mobile purchases.
Streaming Gaining Steam — K-12 parents are 9 percent more
likely to watch video through a streaming service or other
channels/websites daily than they were in 2015 (30% in 2015 vs 39% in
2016). 68 percent of parents have Netflix and over 2 in 5 stream daily.
Dad is More Impulsive — Dads are also more likely to click and
purchase based on what they see online: 51 percent of dads have
clicked on a mobile ad; 35 percent have purchased based on a mobile
ad; 56 percent have clicked on an online ad; and 38 percent have
purchased based on an online ad within the past week.
Rubicon Project engaged global polling firm Penn Schoen Berland to
conduct 1,506 interviews (MOE ±2.53 percent) among parents including
1,000 interviews among parents of kids entering grades K-12 (MOE ±3.1
percent) and 506 interviews among parents of students entering their
freshmen year of college (MOE ±4.36 percent). The interviews were
conducted from June 3rd to June 8th, 2016.
About Rubicon Project
Founded in 2007, Rubicon Project’s mission is to keep the Internet free
and open and fuel its growth by making it easy and safe to buy and sell
advertising. Rubicon Project pioneered advertising automation technology
to enable the world’s leading brands, content creators and application
developers to trade and protect trillions of advertising requests each
month and to improve the advertising experiences of consumers. Rubicon
Project is a publicly traded company (NYSE: RUBI) headquartered in Los
For Rubicon Project
Eric Bonach, 310-207-0272