What retailers need to know about back-to-school shoppers

Retailers may have been targeting the wrong consumer for back-to-school shopping.

Retailers may think that the primary influencers in back-to-school purchases are the ones who pay the bills, but recent findings reveal that retailers may want to appeal to a different audience.

According to the GfK MRI American Kids Study, virtually all (94 percent) children ages 6 to 11 say they influence the back-to-school items or clothes their parents buy for them. Over six in ten (61 percent) girls ages 10 to 11 say they have “a lot” of purchase influence, compared to 44 percent of girls in the 6-to-9 age group.

“They may not have mobile wallets yet – but young kids still have huge influence on their parents’ purchases in the back-to-school season,” said Lisa Tyler, Vice President of Sales at MRI. “At a time when almost half of children 10 to 11 are Internet shoppers, it is little surprise that they might have information and opinions about the supplies and clothes they need. Marketers need to honor and tap into this essential influencer group – in the lead up to school, as well as throughout the year.”

Boys seem to feel they have less shopping clout, with only half (50 percent) of those 10 to 11 – and 37% of those ages 6 to 9 – reporting they have “a lot” of effect on back-to-school supply or clothing purchases. In the new report, seven in ten (69 percent) parents with children ages 6 to 11 say that their child joins them for back-to-school shopping at least half the time. For parents of girls ages 10 to 11, that figure jumps to 81 percent.

The study also shows that kids ages 10 to 11 are 47 percent more likely than the average child to have shopped or looked at things to buy on the Internet in the last 30 days; but children ages 6 to 9 are 23 percent less likely to have done so.

The survey was conducted through a national sample of the 44 million households sheltering some of the country's most influential consumers.

To read the full survey results, click here.