Five Social Personas of Back-to-School Shoppers

Earlier this summer, Jesse Noyes of Offerpop and I presented a webinar, “What Back-to-School Shoppers Say with Social Media… and How to Reach Them.” In the webinar, I presented the five major social personas of back-to-school consumers, which I distilled using Crimson Hexagon’s ForSight™ platform. These five types of back-to-school consumers represent the dominant ways shoppers broadcast their goals, choices, experiences, and opinions about back-to-school shopping on social media.

Back to School Shopping Personas

The five social personas are The Lifecaster, The TV Junkie, The Enthusiast, The Deal-Seeker, and The Procrastinator. I will discuss the research I did on four of the top back-to-school retailers – Walmart, Target, Kohl’s, and Staples – to derive the five personas and explore how listening to organic back-to-school conversation can inform back-to-school advertising campaigns.

Back-to-school shoppers LifecasterThe Lifecaster

The Lifecaster broadcasts his or her daily activities – the exciting and the mundane – through social media. During the back-to-school season, parents and students make multiple trips to various retailers to complete their school shopping amid other activities, including school physicals, last-minute errands and appointments, and trying to enjoy the last days of summer. There is a lot for The Lifecaster to share during back-to-school season!


Back to School social persona opinion analysis - Walmart
From August 16 to September 4, 2012, we analyzed tweets and Facebook posts about back-to-school shopping at Walmart. The Lifecaster contributed almost half (44%) of the overall back-to-school conversation about Walmart. For The Lifecaster, going to Walmart is part of their day, which might include other retail stops, going out to a restaurant, or going to see a movie. The Lifecaster broadcasts where they are going, what they are doing, who they are with – brother brother, sister, kids, Mom, Dad, or friends – as well as their reflections on their day.
This Topic Wheel represents some of the words and phrases used by Lifecasters about Walmart

Back to School social persona opinion analysis - Topics Wheel

With so many people sharing their back-to-school activities along with other daily habits, and so many more people seeing these tweets and posts online, how could your organization reach The Lifecaster?
Jesse Noyes offers some great tips for crafting promotions for The Lifecaster in the webinar. You can use this social intelligence in your ad campaign planning, so that Lifecasters see themselves represented in ads. Encourage more lifecasting for a virtuous circle of engagement and earned media, and find creative ways to show that your store hears The Lifecasters and is participating in the social conversation along with them.

Back-to-school shoppers TV JunkieThe TV Junkie

In the analysis of back-to-school shopping at Target, we see where creative advertising is paying off by creating organic conversation about the big box retailer.  We know that TV audiences are tweeting and posting in growing numbers, and The TV Junkie is tweeting and posting about back-to-school shopping as well.


Back to School social persona opinion analysis - Target
Alongside lifecasting (28%) and general enthusiasm (17%), social chatter about Target’s back-to-school ads is robust, at 14% of the overall conversation about school shopping at Target. We see in the Topic Wheel that people “love” the Target commercial, finding it “catchy” and “funny.” Engaging The TV Junkie magnifies the brand message, because The TV Junkie spreads the word about your back-to-school shopping experience for you.
Back to School social persona opinion analysis - Target Topics Wheel

Back to School Shoppers the EntusiastThe Enthusiast

The Enthusiast loves back-to-school shopping, and treats it like a holiday. Black Friday and the winter holidays and back-to-school are the two biggest seasons for most retailers. By listening to consumers, we find that back-to-school time also stands out to shoppers as a season to look forward to with enthusiasm.


Back to School social persona opinion analysis - Staples
Everybody loves a new outfit for school – but pencils and binders? By listening to the organic social media conversation about school shopping, we find that over one-fifth (21%) of the conversation about back-to-school shopping at office supply retailer Staples expressed enthusiasm. People call themselves out as “weird” and self-identify as a “nerd,” and they proclaim on social media that they are “happy,” “excited,” and “love” school supply shopping at Staples.
Back to School social persona opinion analysis - StaplesTopics Wheel
Understanding the unprompted enthusiasm for school supply shopping can inform the messaging Staples uses in its advertising and promotions. Call out the nerd and depict the special excitement of the clean notebook and fresh stack of index cards, because that is what engages The Enthusiast and that will keep The Enthusiast at your store, rather than shopping with another retailer.

Back-to-school shoppers Deal SeekerThe Deal-Seeker

With so many items to buy before heading back to the classroom or college, The Deal-Seeker is looking to save money. The Deal-Seeker shares her shopping conquests – how much money she saved and how many items she got for a low price – with her social networks.


Back to School social persona opinion analysis - Kohl's
Deal-Seekers were very vocal about saving money by using coupons and shopping smart at Kohl’s. In fact, 21% of the conversation about Kohl’s talked about price-conscious back-to-school shopping.
Back to School social persona Clusters
Notably, many parents shared the exact dollar figure that they spent and that they saved at Kohl’s. In our store’s promotions and in your in-store and online experience, can you make it easier for The Deal-Seeker to find the prices that they’re looking for and then broadcast the good deals they find to their friends and family?

Back-to-school shoppers ProcrastinatorThe Procrastinator

School starts at the end of the summer, whether The Procrastinator has crossed everything off of his list or not. The Procrastinator knows that time is getting short, yet maybe she has yet to start her back-to-school shopping, or she still needs a few crucial items before heading back to school or putting the kids on the school bus for the first day.
Back to School social persona opinion analysis
Using keywords to access general conversation about back-to-school shopping, we analyzed over 500,000 social media posts from consumers about their shopping experiences and plans. The share of the conversation about procrastinating represented 37% of the total conversation.
Back to School social persona opinion analysis - Procrastinator Cluster
The Procrastinator is honest with himself about his lack of momentum when it comes to school shopping. The Procrastinator may tweet that she hasn’t “started yet,” that she is “slacking” and needs to get critical items before school starts.
If your brand uses this organic language about waiting until the last minute, which represents over one-third of general back-to-school conversation, to engage customers, The Procrastinator will feel comfortable turning to your store or retail site to “finally” finish his or her shopping list.

Five Social Personas: Reaching Back-to-School Shoppers

Using context-specific social media analysis to listen to the organic, unsolicited conversation about retail and about your brand, these five social personas emerge as vivid types of active and engaged consumers. The Deal-Seeker is looking for good information about saving money, and is prepared to share advice with her social network. The Enthusiast wants her friends to know that she is a big nerd who loves new school supplies. By listening to consumers, you get to know what makes them tick – and what will motivate them to share your brand message and inspire others in their social network to think of your store during the hectic back-to-school shopping season.
Click here to learn more about using Crimson Hexagon’s ForSight platform to tap into the world’s largest supply of unsolicited opinions about your industry and brand by analyzing social media.

As always, follow us on Twitter @crimsonhexagon.

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