LTOs to Increase Back-to-School Sales
It's time to pull out the books again, and Deloitte predicts back-to-school (BTS) spending will reach new highs for K-12 and college students. However, the BTS season brings challenges, from fitting meals into frenzied schedules to balancing budgets as costs skyrocket. As a result, consumers are taking advantage of limited-time offer (LTO) food promotions.
LTOs are a driver of sales in the food and beverage industry. Indeed, "72% of students and parents in the "back to college" segment plan to spend a portion of their back-to-school budget on food items," according to Symrise. Learn how the latest education trends impact back-to-school marketing and how LTO campaigns can be used to increase food and beverage sales.
Education Trends and Back-to-School Marketing
Education and consumer insights help businesses develop targeted marketing campaigns that speak to the moment. After all, the approach to BTS marketing looked quite different in 2020 compared to 2022. Understanding the latest trends will ensure your campaign is relevant and effective.
It's been a rough couple of years for the back-to-school market, with supply chain concerns, rising prices, and, at times, uncertainty about schools reopening. During those times, parents and students shifted from in-person to remote learning and ditched school clothes to purchase electronics. In 2022, a higher percentage of parents will homeschool their children (8% versus 4% in 2021), and college enrollment will remain below 2019 levels.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) forecasts that in 2023 there will be more than 6.7 million adults aged 25 and over in college and more than 13 million adults aged 24 or younger. Also, the learning ecosystem expanded to virtual learning platforms, giving employees and job seekers access to career pathway training.
Most consumers are tech savvy regardless of age, readily embracing social media and streaming services. Consequently, emerging formats for back-to-school marketing include channels like TikTok and OTT advertising such as live video and podcasts. Digital video growth correlates to increased screentime among people of all ages, making it a prime space to promote your limited-time offers.
How LTOs Can Help to Drive Sales
So, what does LTO foods mean? It refers to specials available for a limited time and includes seasonal promotions, such as back-to-school ad campaigns. LTOs combined with BTS marketing can increase sales and profitability for the food and beverage industry. Consumers, driven by the fear of missing out (FOMO) and a desire to save money, look for convenient mealtime solutions during the back-to-school season.
For instance, grocers showcase pre-cooked or ready-to-eat meals to solve hectic school nights. Wegman's to-go meals include weeknight options along with various cuisines. McDonald's joined the mix with its syllabus-themed LTOs, and brands are promoting BTS sales with content marketing to help families plan lunches and students prepare healthy snacks.
Social media and streaming channels provide huge opportunities for CPG and food and beverage leaders. Statista found 35% of parents of school-aged children "use social media websites to assist them during their back-to-school shopping." In addition, TikTok reported "46% of users have bought from a food brand they saw on TikTok."
Creating a Successful LTO Food Campaign
The consumer packaged goods (CPG) sector can boost sales by understanding shopper segments and tailoring LTOs to individuals. Effective LTO campaigns identify the key things the consumer wants, which varies amongst consumer segments. College students need convenient, single-serve options. In contrast, families with school-age children want larger portions and kid-friendly food combinations.
Buy Online, Pick Up in Store (BOPIS) in retail is an excellent way to capture various market segments. Adult learners can order online during class or while working out and pick up their meals and food items on their way to their dorm or apartment. Alternatively, parents and caregivers may look for curbside delivery options to avoid hauling children out of the car.
In each case, it's vital to advertise to individuals on their preferred platforms. But the cost and complexity of media buying can make reaching your audience challenging. Fortunately, programmatic media advertising is an effective way manage budgets. See results by partnering with experts who understand the back-to-school market and offer targeting options powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
Leveraging Data to Fuel BTS Campaigns
Online and offline data insights offer a broader picture of your audience than a one-size-fits-all approach. By personalizing and diversifying your tactics, you can generate more sales and increase brand loyalty while optimizing your ad spend. Improve your ad campaigns by analyzing your audience, their behavior, and how it changes over time.
Develop Data-Driven Customer Profiles
Create and update customer profiles to enhance your marketing efforts. A consumer profile documents your customer's interests, pain points, demographics and buying behaviors. Sales and marketing teams can use customer profiles to create targeted LTO campaigns for each stage of their journey.
A customer profile is essential to your marketing strategy. Therefore, you should base it on data, not assumptions. Select tools that let you produce comprehensive individual profiles using first and third-party information. Your personas should highlight the customer's journey, describe their demographics and reveal details about their shopping and purchasing habits.
Identify BTS Trends With Historical Data
Activity from previous years can help your organization understand seasonal trends and how they evolve. Historical data may include consumption patterns and BTS campaign impact over the years. This information lets you forecast education marketing trends for the upcoming season and plan your LTO promotions ahead of time.
Social data, such as customer reviews, can also detect the popularity of various food and beverages, brands and shopping timelines. You can build a robust back-to-school marketing strategy by assessing behavior patterns to predict upcoming demands accurately.
Use Targeting to Reach the Right Audience
Target audience segmentation identifies subgroups of your market, allowing you to design customer-centric back-to-school ad campaigns. Use different targeting methods to deliver content at the right time to the right individuals.
Improve your back-to-school promotion performance using:
- Geotargeting: Gather location information to send a message at the best time for conversions.
- Contextual targeting: Add value by placing ads on websites related to your products and industry.
- Dynamic retargeting: Deliver custom content based on the last product your prospect viewed.
- First-party targeting: Market to current customers based on their purchase history.
- Lookalike audiences: Reach new consumers that share characteristics with your customers.
Understand Consumer Habits
College students and parents with school-age children alter their shopping behavior throughout the year and even from year to year. Some embrace new streaming or social media platforms. Others shift to online or in-store shopping based on local and personal circumstances. Without a way to constantly measure and proactively respond to changes, your company can fall behind the competition.
An over-the-top (OTT) analytics platform provides ultra-granular data in near real-time, allowing you to understand foot traffic, website conversions and more. OTT advertising solutions leverage your first-party data to understand consumer behaviors and target them with personalized back-to-school promotions.
Leverage Data-Driven LTOs for Back-to-School Promotions
Reach your audience and optimize your marketing stratrgy with a purposeful approach. Limited time offers can boost seasonal sales and delight consumers looking for a deal. Contact MNI to learn how to build audiences and customer profiles for a successful back-to-school ad campaign.
About the Author
@Janine Pollack, MNI Integrated Marketing Director and self-appointed Storyteller in Chief, leads the brands commitment to generating content that informs and inspires. Prior to MNI, Janine worked with Fortune 500 companies and world-renowned education institutions on numerous research and white papers, podcasts and thought-leadership and education campaigns.