The 2018 Fall Influencer Marketing Guide

 Part One: How Millennial Moms (and Their Gen Alpha Kids) Will Be Spending This Shopping Season


Welcome to the 2018 shopping season!

Believe it or not, Back-to-School shopping marks the unofficial start of the annual shopping season. Not to be confused with the start of the holiday season (Black Friday), shopping season kicks off with back-to-school deals that show up in stores and online around July.

You’ve probably already noticed the fall apparel in the stores and closeout prices starting to show up on summery home decor. Those are telltale signs it’s time to start thinking about your holiday influencer marketing campaign.

For marketers, the period between Fourth of July and Labor Day is summer vacay, yes, but it's also one big shopping event. It's a time when consumers are collectively and consistently spending big bucks for a non-holiday-related event. In this case, that event is back-to-school shopping. 


Unofficial Shopping Season = Official Holiday Marketing Campaigns

As is my way, this is a three-part series that will load you up with all the stats, facts, and strats you need to launch a summer/fall influencer marketing campaign that can seamlessly roll into the holiday shopping period.

Part One of this series is the numbers post. You'll have every number you need to justify why you should spend your chill time by the pool putting together an end-of-summer marketing plan. I will also give you the 411 on reaching Millennial Moms and their kids. 

Part Two of this series is all about Gen X Moms and their Gen Z teens, and it's a lot of good info.

In Part Three, I'm going to lay out a 9-step summer influencer marketing plan that you can implement to get the ball rolling. The post talks about: 

  1. Identifying influencers

  2. Proposing partnerships

  3. Choosing the right success metrics for your campaign, and

  4. Launching your influencer marketing campaign

We’re diving into the deep end here, and looking at what big brands are doing right now to grow their audiences and push customers into their sales funnels weeks and weeks ahead of Black Friday.

** FYI, if you were looking for a specific strategy for back-to-school shopping, Lauren penned this spectacular back-to-school marketing guide that you can use as your playbook. **

So, why is it so important that you start your influencer marketing campaign RIGHT NOW? Well, it’s important for a couple of reasons.


People Are Shopping Earlier, Shopping Longer, and Spending More


The stores seem overrun every December 24th, don’t they? If you happen to be one of the people sitting, gridlocked in the mall parking lot a few days before Christmas, you’re in the minority. Even if it doesn’t seem like it.

During the 2017 holiday season, the National Retail Federation reported that only six percent of shoppers surveyed expected to still be shopping between December 20th and December 24th. People started their holiday shopping earlier last year, and earlier in 2016 as well. I would bet people are shopping even earlier this year as hundreds of Toys R Us stores close down permanently. (Sad face for my childhood imaginary friend, Geoffrey Giraffe.)


The same can be said for people shopping for school supplies during the summer months. The average family started shopping earlier last year than they did in 2016. American families spent hundreds of millions of dollars on school supplies before the fireworks even lit the sky for Fourth of July.

When August 2017 rolled around the average family had already completed 45 percent of their school shopping.  And I’ve got news for you: Back-to-school shopping - which goes through the beginning of October -  overlaps holiday shopping for parents, many of whom start buying holiday gifts as early as September, according to this article in Money.


People Are Going Online to Shop Now, More Than Ever Before

The number of people shopping online is steadily increasing.  M-commerce (mobile commerce) is expected to account for 49 percent of the total e-commerce market by the year 2020. And e-Commerce is growing 23 percent year-over-year.

In 2016, 76 percent of shoppers used mobile devices for their holiday spending, a 31 percent increase over mobile shopping in 2015, according to the American Express Spending and Saving Tracker. I felt pretty 3008 about being included in that number until I read that more than a quarter of Millennials who have them report making purchases from their SMART WATCHES at least once a month.

Come on, guys...

According to Statista, the average value of an online order is:

  • $147.03 when made from a desktop or laptop

  • $114.81 when made with a tablet

  • $108.83 when made via smartphone


I can tell you from experience that online shopping is crucial, even for non-hipsters, and especially for moms. The big-box retailer just two miles east of my house misses about 30 percent of my would-be in-store purchases because I make them online and have the products I could buy in-store shipped directly to me.

Sure, in the time it takes me to order online, I could drive the two miles to the store. But… online is so much more convenient. A guy delivers it… I stay out of the unforgiving Atlanta heat…


Plus, I get free shipping if I spend more than $35 (which I always seem to do). Honestly, if Kroger could figure out how to get avocados, bagged salads, and Trix cereal to me the same day, I’d never set foot in a grocery store again.

I’m not alone in this, but we'll talk more about that later.



Here's How Much Will Be Spent Over the Next Six Months

$83.6 Billion on School Stuff – That’s Why We Call This the Unofficial Start of the Shopping Season

The National Retail Federation estimated families would spend $83.6 billion on back-to-school shopping in 2017 ($29.5 billion on K-12 and $54.1 billion on college students). That’s why we can confidently proclaim back-to-school time the unofficial start of the shopping season.

The average household with kids (nursery school through college) is expected to spend a whopping $501 per child this year on stuff for school ($554 per child for families in the South).

To put this in perspective, a 2016 holiday spending article published on The Motley Fool estimated parents spend an average of $422 per child on holiday gifts, out of the $929 the average person spends shopping for the holidays. That means a parent will spend more shopping for back-to-school items for a child than on holiday gifts for that child. Surprising.


Back-to-school shopping generates billions in revenue for retailers, and according to Deloitte, here’s why.

For the 2017 back-to-school shopping season, parents planned to spend, on average:

  • $104 on school supplies, purchased by 98 percent of back-to-school shoppers

  • $284 on clothes and accessories, purchased by 97 percent of back to school shoppers,

  • $307 on computers and hardware, purchased by 23 percent of shoppers

  • $254 on gadgets, purchased by 18 percent of shoppers

That’s why the back-to-school shopping season is second only to the holiday shopping season in total annual revenues.



As for the Other Big Spending Days This Shopping Season...

Estimates have yet to be released on 2018 Halloween spending, but both 2017 and 2016 were record years for Halloween retailers who raked in $9.1 billion and $8.4 billion in those two years for the un-holiday.  

And while Americans typically only spend about five bucks per guest on Thanksgiving dinner, that number quickly jumps up to more than $200 a person when you add Black Friday and Cyber Monday purchases to the total spending for the Thanksgiving weekend celebrations.

According to T. Rowe Price’s holiday study, more than 70 percent of the parents surveyed admitted to spending at least $200 over the past 12 months on holiday spending for one child. One in three parents say that number topped $500.  

Of course, Christmas spending peaks between Black Friday and the first week in January, during which time retailers generate right around $1 trillion in sales.

Now that I have sufficiently justified the validity of this opportunities for brands and marketers of all kinds, the next thing I want to do is introduce you to the four people you'll probably be marketing to for the rest of the year.



Now Let's Meet the Four People Doing the Spending

Let me lay the foundation for the rest of this post (and the next post) by giving you a clear picture of who’s actually going to be frequenting online and offline stores between September and January.

I've decided to focus quite a bit of our attention on moms and school-aged kids. Here's why:

Kids influence $1.2 trillion in spending, weighing in on everything from breakfast foods (Nature Valley breakfast cookie, anyone?) to the family car, according to Digitas. This global phenomenon (and it is, in fact, global) of giving kids a say in household purchases directly impacts the way in which brands target kids.

In 1983, brands spent $100 million marketing things like cereal, toys, and burgers to children. Today, the number is $12 billion; kids are seeing more than 40,000 marketing messages a year.  

Moms control 85 percent of household purchases, with spending power that tops $2 trillion. Women also outpace men when it comes to using mobile for shopping, especially in-store shopping.  I, and 41 percent of my female contemporaries, look up email promotions while actually in the store.

How does that play out? While my better half is loading the conveyor belt with products from our cart, I am punching in the names of products as they move down the belt to find discounts. Last week, between the time we got in line and the time he handed the cashier the money, I cut our bill by 25 percent from coupons I could click to download to my phone.

Honestly, he could not have cared less. Like, really. Men aren’t typically coupon clippers. But I counted it a victory, a dazzling display of teamwork. That’s women shoppers for you.

That T. Rowe Price study I mentioned earlier to drive home the point on holiday spending comes with a caveat: 

  • 11 percent of parents say they pulled from their retirement accounts to cover holiday spending

  • 11 percent took out payday loans specifically to cover holiday spending

  • 14 percent pulled from their household emergency funds to ante up for old Father Christmas, and

  • 56 percent charged their holiday spending

#9 The 4 Shoppers You’ll Meet This Holiday Season_6.jpg

While Millennial parents are more likely to save up for holiday spending over the course of the year than Gen X parents (83 percent vs 67 percent), Millennials also admit to spending more than they should for the holidays compared to Gen X parents (75 percent vs 63 percent). Millennial parents also place far more value on making sure to buy their kids everything on their holiday wish lists than either Gen X parents or Baby Boomers (75 percent vs 50 percent vs 33 percent).

That said, I'm going to focus this post on reaching Millennial Moms, Gen X Moms, Gen Alpha kids, and Gen Z with your influencer marketing campaigns. Now, let’s meet the four people holding the purse.


Millennial Moms

Who they are

There are approximately 9 million women in the US who fall into the category of being a Millennial Mom. Estimated to be born between 1980 and the year 2000, Millennial women range in age from about 18 to 38 years old, and are the offspring of Baby Boomers and Gen X parents.

And Mick Jagger.  

About 1 in 5 US moms are Millennials. More than 80 percent of new moms are Millennials, according to BabyCenter. Like Gen X and Boomer Moms, most Millennial Moms work out of necessity. Only 35 percent of Millennial Moms call themselves homemakers.


Unlike mothers of generations before them, Millennial Moms are by and large more confident with and more savvy about finances and products that protect their family’s financial well-being. One-third of Millennial Moms are the primary breadwinners in their households, and a third of them are either unmarried, or not living with a partner.

Motherhood is crucial to the identities of Millennial Moms. In fact, with so many “social” eyes watching, being a perfect mom is a goal to which many Millennial Moms aspire. In a world where most Millennial Moms either choose to work or absolutely must work, 21 percent of Millennial Fathers are now stay-at-home dads.

The work-life balance for Millennial Moms is an ongoing struggle. Twenty-five percent of Millennial Moms are willing to pay at least $50 a month to have someone step in and help them keep their home lives organized, and to keep their family from partaking in the one in five family meals that are now being eaten in a car.

Up to 67 percent of Millennial Moms are multi-cultural, according to research from Carat. In fact, Millennial Moms and their children are part of the two most ethnically diverse generations currently living in the US.    

How they use social

Millennial Moms are social creatures indeed, significantly more social than Gen X Moms. Millennial Moms rely on community to make buying decisions, and are totally okay with offering their opinions online about products – any products at all. They talk openly about clothes, brands, retailers, experience-based services, even financial products.

What’s more, in addition to giving advice, 46 percent of Millennial Moms look to the recommendations of their network when it comes time for making decisions on acquiring goods and services, or making purchases.

While Millennial Moms favor Facebook (with an average of 500 Facebook friends) and Instagram, the average Millennial Mom has at least three social media accounts, according to a Weber Shandwick study.

Millennial Moms prefer smartphones to laptops. More than half of the Millennial Moms surveyed said they spend most, or all, of their time online on their phones, and spend more than 17 hours on social networks every week. That’s 30 percent more time than the average mom spends on social sites.

How they shop

Millennial Moms shop for deals. They are far less brand loyal than Gen X Moms, and focus instead on quality over brand name. In fact, according to Trybe:

  • 83 percent of Millennial Moms shop online to hunt for the best price

  • 79 percent of Millennial Moms use e-commerce to get a better selection of products

  • 62 percent of Millennial Moms shop online because of the good shipping options

Millennial Moms are far more likely to have necessities like diapers and beauty products delivered to their homes than to spend hours shopping for them in-store.



Generation Alpha

Who they are

Who's your daddy?

Who's your daddy?

The first Generation Alpha babies were born in 2010 (though I’ve seen content that puts their birth year at 2014). Currently, Millennial Moms are giving birth to some 9,000 Gen Alpha babies every day; more than 2 million Gen Alpha babies are born every week around the world. By the time the entire generation has been birthed (2025), there will be more than two billion Gen Alpha babies.

Gen Alphas are predominantly the offspring of Millennials, some Gen Xers, and... Mick Jagger. They have arrived in the world at a time when the Internet of Things enables them to live in a wholly-connected America.

How they use social

Mark McCrindle, an Australian social researcher who has done extensive studies and projections on generations Z Alpha, refers to Generation Alpha as “screenagers.” Although the oldest Gen Alphas are only in the second grade by now, 81 percent of parents say their Gen Alpha kids either watch videos or play games on electronic devices every single day.

As a result, startups that produce Alpha-targeted apps (like Age of Learning’s popular app ABCmouse) are leveraging the market being carved out by the most tech-savvy, influential, and materially-endowed generation the world has ever seen.

Coincidentally, ABCMouse has well over 1 million paid subscribers, of which I am one.

Raising Eva

I spend $240 a year just on subscription services for my kid’s mobile device. She likes this little Samsung phone I had before I upgraded. She also has two toddler laptops she convinced her dad to buy for her - one for learning the basics and one that teaches in Spanish. She’s 4.  

Plus, Dad bought reams of paper for activity sheets that we print off… like it’s the early 2000’s. Which means printers and ink (or toner, or whatever it’s called now) is an additional cost we assume, primarily to deliver these traceable activity sheets that give her the opportunity to spell out her name. I shell out another $75 a week for daycare, so she can socialize with the other kids her age a few times a week.

And because I sort of dig Sprout and Noggin, by this time next year, I’ll be paying an additional $50 a month for premium channels (which means finally buying a television after being TV-free for a decade) for someone who can’t even go into a carnival Funhouse by herself.

And she’s over Dory, so she needs new bed sheets, likely Marvel or Black Panther-themed. I’ve been trying to convince her that she’s better suited to be Shuri or Okoye than T’Challa… what, with her being a girl and all.

And we haven’t even talked about her hair, shoes, clothes, and ever-changing snack preferences. Or the tablets Dad bought Eva and her one year-old sister for Christmas.

Take it from the parent of two Gen Alpha kids. 

There’s plenty of money to be made for brands that can learn to intrigue small children without ticking off the parents. So take heed: Your next big customer is probably wearing a Peppa Pig backpack right now.


The Interesting Dynamic Between Millennials and Alphas

What’s interesting about the Millennial-Alpha connection is that Millennial parents seem to display an almost obsessive relationship with their kids. This tendency may be attributed to the fact that they themselves may have been a little sheltered by their Gen X and Baby Boomer parents (the web refers to them as helicopter parents – you know, for hovering over their kids they way they did). Or, it may be the result of such a high number of Millennials growing up in single-parent homes (about 40 percent).

At any rate, Millennial parents value parenting as perhaps the most important part of adulthood, out-ranking even professional aspirations and financial success. Millennials are the most educated  generation on the planet, and the most socially connected in decades, but they face trials American parents haven’t had to face in decades.

Specifically, economic instability, job uncertainty (Millennials change careers more than Gen Xers, Boomers, or the Silent Generation ever had to), climate change, and shifts in the global political landscape that can have a catastrophic impact on the future of the entire world.

This is the environment in which Millennials are rearing children. Yet, they spend twice as much time with their kids as previous generations. Dad is home more to shoulder some of the responsibility of helping around the house. Millennial Moms are somehow present with the kids and working full-time.

And they want to give their kids the world.




In Part Two of this three-part series, we’re going to look at the other two big holiday spenders – Generation X Moms and Gen Z, the nation’s teens and tweens, born between 2001 and 2009. And we’ll look at how they spend their time, how and where they use social media, and how and where they will be shopping season.    


Are you working with influencers yet?

Do you want to work with influencers?

Heads up! The summer fun is afoot, and that means a couple of things: First, it’s the summer travel season, but it’s also the time for back-to-school shopping. And if you’re not on top of this, you’re going to miss the boat. The Shelf is an influencer marketing platform that takes away the guesswork. With our patent-pending ROI-prediction reports, you’ll be able to understand exactly who’s representing your brand and whether or not your collaboration with them will pay off. Contact us if you want to make a ton of money from your marketing efforts.

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