This year, more than 600 teachers participated in Agile and SheerID’s fourth-annual Teacher Purchasing, Spending and Loyalty Survey. Representing primarily core classroom teachers in grades PreK-12, these individuals schooled us on how they shop for their classrooms every year.
On the surface, their answers provide insightful data that tells a story about teacher spending habits and purchasing preferences. Spend a little more time with the stats, however, and you can glean invaluable insight into creating stronger marketing for the 2017-18 school year and beyond.
- Teachers spend a significant amount on supplies and materials.
To supplement tight budgets, teachers put some of their paychecks right back into their classrooms — about 11 percent, in fact. During the 2016-17 school year, teachers reported spending an average of $468 out-of-pocket on classroom supplies, and 77 percent said they spent at least $200. Some teachers even reported dishing out as much as $5,000 to purchase materials to supplement student learning.
Marketing Insight: Teachers are, and will continue to be, a strong audience segment to market education products and services to.
- Teachers value discounts — and brands that offer them.
Teachers work hard for the money they earn, and they like to use discounts to help them stretch those dollars, particularly in these spending categories: office supplies, computers and electronics, restaurants, entertainment, travel, apparel, and software. Teachers reward brands that offer savings with their loyalty. In fact, 96 percent of teachers said they are more likely to purchase from a company that offers a teacher discount online when making classroom purchases.
Marketing Insight: Make teacher discounts prominent in your marketing, and make the sales worth their while. Sixty-three percent said discounts need to be at least 20 percent to capture attention.
Teachers are so committed to keeping more money in their pockets that they’re willing to seek out great deals. Survey respondents said they learn about sales from a variety of sources. These include: word of mouth (71 percent), email (54 percent), social media (43 percent), online (39 percent), store websites (38 percent) and traditional print ads (27 percent).
Marketing Insight: This myriad of sources speaks to the importance of establishing an integrated marketing strategy that maximizes your exposure on print and digital channels.
- Teachers shop for their classrooms often.
Though there is a buying push in the fall, back-to-school season isn’t the only time of year when teachers stock up on classroom supplies. Most survey respondents said they like to space out their purchases; 64 percent said they go on supply runs every month to every few months.
Marketing Insight: Market to teachers consistently year-round to maintain visibility and stay top-of-mind.
- Teachers conduct product research independently and online.
If teachers are going to invest their hard-earned money back into work, they’re going to do so wisely. These days, teachers rely less and less on marketing and sales to tell them what they need. Instead, they’re turning to search engines like Google for answers. Of the total survey respondents, 65 percent said search engines are their main source of information for teaching and learning, and 58 percent said the same for education products.
Marketing Insight: Invest in SEO to achieve top search rankings and populate your website with helpful content that aides in product research. This will help you establish thought leadership and breed brand awareness and trust.
- Teachers are tech-savvy consumers.
Many teachers complete their shopping online, with 40 percent of respondents reporting that they make school purchases on the Internet. Though a small group of teachers do report using devices such as tablets and smartphones for their transactions, most (78 percent) complete purchases from their laptop or desktop computers.
Marketing Insight: You can nurture leads down the buying funnel, but check-out annoyances — paying for shipping, a complicated check-out process, discount ineligibility, and needing to create a profile to purchase — can lead to lost sales. Consider the buyer journey from start to finish.
- Teachers influence purchases, too.
Technology investments have long been considered an administrator responsibility. But, teachers are playing more of a role in the selection and purchasing of technology than you might think. Thirty-eight percent of teachers said they personally choose technology for their classrooms, while 28 percent offer input to a principal who makes the final purchase.
Marketing Insight: Teachers aren’t just important to market to for direct classroom sales; they often influence education purchasing at school and district levels, too.