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10 Aug / The Back-to-School Blitz Begins Now!

It’s August, and that means students and retailers are gearing up for “back-to-school.” For stores, this time of year represents a significant portion of annual sales, and with a report released in July predicting 4% profit growth, 2012’s back-to-school shopping season is an opportunity retailers are eager to capitalize on. In line with a National Retail Federation survey that found 85% of those polled agree that the economy will affect their spending, marketers have developed innovative campaigns to draw in returning students and motivate purchases this season.

This year, Teen Vogue magazine is initiating a new back-to-school campaign highlighted by a nationwide Back-to-School Saturday, when consumers will be urged to “get ready, get set, get shopping!” The publication has organized over two dozen brands to participate in the August 11th event, featuring retailers offering sales, free samples, and special deals on apparel, cosmetics, food and school supplies.

The organizers behind the Teen Vogue event have a long-term vision of its marketing potential. As told to the New York Times, VP Jason Wagenheim hopes “that [Back-to-School Saturday] becomes part of the retail calendar, like Black Friday,” which reported record sales in 2011. In keeping with the commercial success of this and other promotional shopping events, such as parent-magazine Vogue’s own “Fashion’s Night Out,” there are hopes that Back-to-School Saturday will be “galvanized” into the annual buying season as a single day for years to come. Participating stores hope to see elevated foot traffic and sales figures from promotions online at teenvogue.com, in the August Back-to-School issue, and from day-of exposure. By requiring featured brands to increase print and digital spending with Teen Vogue, the publication hopes to establish lasting business connections and marketing efforts. For publisher, Conde Nast, securing future advertising could help stave off the effects of economic downturns, like the most recent recession which caused layoffs and cut backs.

The Teen Vogue campaign also broadens the reach of traditional back-to-school advertisements by incorporating several media platforms. Following consumer spending trends, many of the arranged deals are redeemable in-store and online, targeting the 79% of PriceGrabber poll respondents who plan to shop online. Back-to-School Saturday is also promoted through mobile devices and social networking sites: Teen Vogue “called dibs” back in May on the Twitter-formatted hashtag “#BTSS” and also incorporates a “Teen Vogue Insider” iPhone App that grants special access to deals for users upon “checking-in” at participating stores.

The back-to-school season isn’t just about tweeting teens and first-day looks, however. Since parents are most often the ones footing the average $688 bill for merchandise, box stores like Target are staying conscious of the parent’s role in the purchasing process by catering advertisements to their tastes. Debuting three TV spots in mid-July that “are 100% for the parents,” Target’s promotion features school teachers belting out Target shopping lists set to parent-favorite 80s hits like “We Got the Beat” by the Go-Go’s.

Whether you’re shopping for back-to-school or not, these annual promotions mark the change of the seasons and the passage of time for us all. Let’s hope that everyone gets exactly what they need—through Twitter, online, or in-store—to have the best year yet!

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