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Ori CarmelVertical Marketing Manager, RetailTwitter
Ask retailers and analysts about the back-to-school shopping season, and many will tell you it’s been starting progressively earlier. Twitter’s vertical marketing manager for retail, Ori Carmel, is one of the executives who agrees that’s the case, but has also noticed additional nuances in the specific shopping categories and age groups about which that behavior applies. He spoke with eMarketer’s Yory Wurmser about back-to-school shoppers, social media chatter, and his observations about older vs. younger students and mothers vs. fathers.
eMarketer: Are you noticing the same patterns traditional retailers have observed, and how big of a season is back-to-school time for Twitter?
Ori Carmel: Much like the rest of the industry, it’s the second-largest season in retail after the holidays. The reason is back-to-school essentially starts in June and lasts into October.
We’ve seen brands start their campaigns progressively earlier to vie for top-of-mind awareness within consumer groups. Overall, the brand marketing push over the last five or six years is starting earlier.
eMarketer: Within this June-to-October time period, when would you say the Twitter conversations peak?
Carmel: There’s no one peak. ... It actually varies by retail category, the age range of the student, and the parents, so what the conversation is specifically about is more telling.
Back-to-school tends to start in June, whereas back-to-college is July and August. With product categories, apparel comes first, then electronics and school supplies last.
eMarketer: What is your observation about parents’ and kids’ shopping behaviors?
Carmel: Obviously, the younger the child, the more the parents are involved. However, we’re seeing trends indicating that even younger children are very involved—especially around fashion trends. They care about having the nicest outfit or the coolest new sneakers on their first day back to school.
There are also some divisions between male and female parenting and back-to-school consumption. Dads are more aligned with electronics, so they’re more involved in conversations and decisions involving laptops, phones and tablets. Moms play a bigger role with clothes and school supplies. In terms of when the purchases are actually made, moms are more involved in last-minute activities, like getting the notebooks and pencils, while dads are more involved in the middle of the conversation and buying.
In reality though, conversations actually happen year-round. It peaks at certain times of the year, but even after a purchase, a college student is going to be talking about their great new laptop months later.
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