Blogs, Surveys

Preparing for back to school: clothing, supplies, and the germ season

It’s the second week of September, and school is back in full swing for kids in Canada. In terms of preparing for the back-to-school season, it’s no surprise that parents have a range of different strategies! For some parents, what they did to prepare is a distant memory (having completed their shopping months ago), while others need to look back only a week or two to remember the frantic last-minute errands they ran to ensure that their shopping was completed on time.

When it comes to preparing for back to school, who is making the decisions when it comes to shopping for supplies and clothes? And how are parents preparing for something far less fun and exciting… the onset of germ season?

Children are influencing back-to-school purchase decisions, at least to some extent…

Part of the preparation process for back-to-school shopping involves who will be responsible for making decisions about which products to buy: the parents, the child(ren), or a combination. With kids demanding the latest and greatest and parents working to keep budgets in check, the back-to-school shopping experience can be an adventure, to say the least!

Recently, the Worldwide Independent Network of Market Research (WIN) Americas conducted a survey among parents of children aged 3-13 in 8 countries of the Americas (including Canada, USA, Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, which represent 80% of the region’s population). Parents were asked to identify the main brand decision maker in their household for several products in general (they were given several response options: parents, children, both, or does not apply). Among Canadian parents of children aged 3-13…

  • Close to half (48%) indicate that the parents are the main brand decision maker when it comes to school supplies, with 40% indicating that both the children and parents are the main brand decision makers, and 9% indicating the children are the main brand decision makers (3% indicated does not apply).
  • In terms of clothing (in general, and not necessarily related specifically to back-to-school), a greater proportion indicate that both the parents and children are the main brand decision makers (58%), while close to one-third (32%) indicate that parents are the main brand decision makers, and 10% indicate that children are the main brand decision makers.

In any case, Canadian children are influencing the school supplies and clothing purchased, at least to some extent. Further corroborating this, a 2019 study published by Field Agent Canada, which surveyed over 500 Canadian mothers, found that “children have a large influence on what their parents purchase,”  which, perhaps unsurprisingly, can be costly, causing financial stress [1]. In a 2018 survey conducted by about back-to-school, “nearly 20% of kids told their parents they want new clothes and school supplies, 11% want new shoes and laptops, and 10% want new backpacks and textbooks”[2].

Interestingly, as social media has evolved along with ecommerce, retailers are finding more creative ways to reach children, for example, through “Snapchat, YouTube Kids, and other mobile apps” which allow them to market their products directly to children and teens, rather than through parents. Some have raised concerns about the potential impact of this type of advertising on children [3].

Parents may also be preparing for the “germ season” or “back-to-school plague”…

As Canadian parents know, preparing for the back-to-school season can go beyond just purchasing supplies and clothes – it also means preparing for germs to come home with their kids. From head lice to the common cold, when children come into contact with each other, the opportunity to share these germs spreads, with some parents and teachers not-so-fondly discussing the “back-to-school plague” or the “germ season.”

In our recent survey among Canadians aged 18 or older with children in their household under age 18 who will be attending school this fall, two-thirds (66%) think that their children are likely to get sick in the fall after starting school. Interestingly, this proportion is higher among moms (70%) than it is among dads (60%). In addition, 39% of Canadians aged 18 or older with children in their household under age 18 who will be attending school this fall indicated they are concerned about personally getting sick as a result of their child(ren) returning to school.

Are you interested in which illnesses Canadians are most concerned about their child(ren) catching, the products they are buying in advance (versus when needed), and how much they’re spending?

For the full results of this study, including detailed information on…

  • The illnesses, viruses, and infections Canadians are most concerned about their child(ren) catching at school (ranging from the common cold to measles)
  • The products Canadian parents ensure they have at home to be prepared for illnesses / viruses / infections, and which ones they prefer to buy as needed
  • How much Canadian parents spend on products to prevent or prepare for illnesses / viruses / infections for their child(ren) and/or themselves when their child(ren) are returning to school

…click the button below to contact us and we’ll be happy to share the findings!



Click here to contact us for the complete results!