Back-to-School Spend A Good Value Lesson

With $72.5 billion in consumer spending up for grabs, opportunities abound on TV | @PaigeA

Consumers traditionally rev up to part with cash in August
and early September when kids head back to school and go off to college, making this the second-largest retail
spend period of the year. That’s why
syndicators should really reconsider
whether lying low in the doldrums
of summer is good business.

Why This Matters
Syndication offers marketers an efficient ad buy year-round, but the end of summer is an especially good time to take advantage of that.

In July, the National Retail Foundation
noted that consumers spend
$72.5 billion on clothes, school
supplies, dorm-room furniture and
consumer electronics in early fall. That breaks
down to parents and students spending $45.8
billion prior to heading off to college, while parents
of younger children spend $26.7 billion to
send their kids back to school. Another wrinkle
extending the 2013 shopping season in key
markets is New York-area public schools returning
later than usual (Sept. 9) due to the Rosh
Hashanah holiday, and the Los Angeles Unified
School District moving much earlier, to Aug. 13.

That’s not much compared to the towering
$580 billion consumers spend around the holidays,
but it’s more than any other time of the
year, including Mother’s Day ($20.7 billion) and
Valentine’s Day ($18.6 billion).

Most back-to-school shopping
takes place in July and August, two
of the slowest months of the year for
TV, which remains marketers’ preferred
showcase. Other ad categories
that get a lot of play in summer
are automotive—especially July,
which tends to be a hot month for buying cars—
and movies, with studios rolling out blockbusters.

Syndication offers marketers an advantage
in those slow months, says Mitch Burg, Syndicated
Network Television Association president.
“[Syndication ratings] don’t vary more than
10% across the year,” he says. “In the summer,
syndication’s ratings hold up better than any
other part of national TV. Meanwhile, ratings
for broadcast network primetime fall as much
as 40% from their end-of-season average.”

Plenty of Options

Syndie_InfoGraphic.jpgAmong women over 18 who have kids, Warner
Bros.’ The Big Bang Theory in syndication
was TV’s top-rated show, averaging a 2.7 C3 rating
from July 1-July 14, according to Nielsen.
Bang was followed by such syndie staples as
CBS Television Distribution’s JudgeJudy (2.0),
Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud (2.0), NBCUniversal’s
Law & Order: SVU (1.9), Litton’s Weekend
Adventure weekend programming block
(1.8), Twentieth’s Family Guy (1.7) and Warner
Bros.’ Two and a Half Men and NBCU’s Maury
(both 1.5). By comparison, network primetime
programming averaged a 1.2 and cable primetime
averaged a 0.2 in the same female demo.

Sitcoms are strong performers among young
people age 18-24, many of whom are shopping
to return to college. In this demo, Family Guy
reigned supreme at a 2.9, followed by Big Bang
at a 2.2, How I Met Your Mother and King of
the Hill
each at a 1.7 and Two and a Half Men
at a 1.3. By comparison, network primetime averaged
a 0.5 among this age group, while cable
averaged just a 0.1, according to Nielsen.

“When you have seven of the top 10 shows on
a weekly basis, that’s a pretty significant thing,”
says Burg. “That’s why a lot of [marketers] have
moved money into syndication in the summer.
Many marketers spend more money with us in
the summer than in other quarters.”