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Back to school means back to normal: OAAA study

By M4G Bureau - July 05, 2021

The OAAA study, based on a poll conducted by OnDevice Research, aimed to understand how COVID-19 will impact back to school attitudes and shopping habits, and what influence advertisements will have.

Back to school means back to normal, and 53 percent of Americans say OOH advertising is playing a role in restoring their confidence as they prepare for the next school year. Delving into demographics shows even higher numbers among 25-34 year-olds (59%) and middle income earners ($50-$100K). These are key findings from the latest research report from the Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA), the national trade association for the entire out of home (OOH) and DOOH media ecosystem in the US.

The poll, conducted by OnDevice Research, aimed to understand how COVID-19 will impact back to school attitudes and shopping habits, and what influence advertisements will have.

Three out of five of consumers say that they will be looking to OOH ads to inform their back-to-school buying decisions with news of sales and discounts. That number climbs to three out of four among those 25-34 years-old.

The survey also confirms that people plan to spend in preparation for the coming school year, with 67 percent of respondents saying they will be spending more this year than last. While 51 percent reported price as the key consideration for purchases, nearly half (46%) will spend $501 or more on back to school supplies. Parents are the primary drivers of shopping decisions (49%), but a third (32%) of families will be making choices jointly with students, with the likelihood increasing alongside children's ages and grade levels.

Additionally, the survey provides a window into how technology trends that gained momentum due to social distancing are gaining a foothold on consumer habits, evidencing that convenience is here to stay. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of consumers are looking to OOH to supply them with special discounts via QR codes, NFC's or SMS.

After a year of working and learning from home, Americans are also clear that they are ready for students to go back to school, with 64 percent of consumers stating that they are happy about the return of in person education.

Other notable findings include:

  • Most thrilled about being relieved from 24/7 childcare are parents of preschoolers, 88% of whom are looking forward to schools reopening.
  • Consumers will be shopping both in person and remotely. 54% of back to school purchases will be made at retail stores, 32% of online purchasing will occur and 25% will be purchasing from Dollar Stores.
  • While books and tech are on the shopping lists for students in College/University, the majority of parents will be purchasing other items. 47% responded miscellaneous school supplies, followed by 38% for both shoes and other clothing.
  • Most anticipate the majority of back to school shopping to take place in August (30%), followed by July (18%), but a number (17%) expect to spend some each month until school begins

"It's clear that American families are ready for the trauma of the last year to subside and to come back to school and other aspects of their lives with optimism and strength," said Anna Bager, President and CEO, OAAA. "This research confirms that out of home advertising is part of the nation's psyche and plays a role in the confidence, security and excitement that parents and students are feeling."

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