Rubicon recently published key findings from a US poll where they interviewed a 1 000 parents of school going and university students on their back to school purchases. Southern Africa is often behind the curve of international trends and we can look at what is happening worldwide to see what can be expected locally in the future.

Here are four of their trends and our comments on what they mean for Southern African  suppliers who target parents with back to school suppliers.

Trend 1: Parents plan on buying technology (72%) the most during back-to-school shopping, followed by apparel/retail items (61%) and school supplies (50%). The average parent estimates close to $400 worth ($390) on technology alone – followed by apparel/retail ($278) and mobile devices ($242)

Historically, for back to school buying, technology has hardly ever featured. This is changing fast and we can expect more parents will be buying tech-based educational products. Suppliers need to not only promote back to school supplies and sports equipment for the year but also tech devices and the content that can be consumed on them.

Trend 2: Nearly 2 in 5 parents say they will be purchasing technology this back-to-school season specifically to meet classroom needs/requirements.

As more and more schools bring tech devices into the classroom we can expect that schools are going to drive that parents buy technology. This means your online and tech-based products not only have to be attractive to the parents but the schools as well.

Trend 3:  Digital ads can shape their [parents] purchasing decisions – One-quarter have clicked on a digital ad in the past week – and nearly 2 out of 10 parents have made a purchase in the past week based on the ad

Digital advertising will have an impact but it is not the only thing you will need to do to get parents to buy your products and services. Is your digital marketing in place? Do you have online adverts – without them you could be missing 20% of sales.

Trend 4: And many are purchasing on-the-go. 36% of all parents say they’ve made purchases directly from their mobile device more than once in the past month – while more than one in ten parents of college students make mobile purchases daily.

One-third of parents are buying directly from their mobile devices – suppliers marketing needs to be not only web friendly but also mobile friendly. Your website has to be geared to making easy phone-based purchases. Without it, you will lose sales.

Read the full Rubicon report here.