Survey Shows Home Computers With Internet Access Top Back to School Must-Have Lists

Aug 09, 2011, 05:20 ET from Marketing to Moms Coalition

Marketing to Moms Coalition Report Gives Early Read on Back-to-School Buying Trends: Increase in Online Shopping, Less Clothing, More Cleaning Supplies for Classroom

CHICAGO, Aug. 9, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A fresh box of pencils and a stash of erasers aren't going to begin to cut it this year, as millions of families head out to purchase items on their school supply lists this month. In fact, home computers with Internet access and printing systems are becoming standard requirements across elementary and secondary school systems nationwide, according to a new study released by the Marketing to Moms Coalition. This home office trend is impacting elementary school, middle school, and especially high school students across the country:

  • Almost half (47%) of moms with children ages 7-12, and more than two in three (67%) moms of teenagers are expected to monitor their child's grades and attendance through online posting
  • Nearly one in three children from elementary through high school are assigned online homework by teachers
  • Nearly half (45%) of moms of children ages 7-12, and 61 percent with teenagers, say their child would not be able to complete homework assignments without home access to a computer
  • Uploading assignments also is on the rise – nearly a quarter (23%) of kids age 7-12 and one-third of teenagers are expected to post assignments online at least once during the year

Amy Colton, executive vice president for Current Lifestyle Marketing and co-founder of the Marketing to Moms Coalition, says daily access to teachers and the ability to track student progress is a big benefit for families, but can be a big hurdle for others. "The helicopter parenting trends are continuing and many parents expect to be able to check their child's grade periodically and communicate with the teacher via email any time they want. We've moved way beyond traditional parent-teacher conferences. Now parents demand ongoing updates on their child's performance in school," said Colton. "The requirement to have essentially a home office is a perplexing one, however.  Many families are already equipped, but these technology requirements are popping up in public schools across the country. Not all families can afford to have these systems in their homes."

In fact, finances are a concern for the majority of families heading into the back-to-school spending season this fall. Most moms plan to cut spending by 7 percent versus last year. Moms of 7-12 year olds say they will spend roughly $409 for back to school supplies, which include academic supplies, clothing, electronics, sports equipment and school fees. Down from previous years, the clothing category will take the biggest hit in 2011.

"Moms continue to be frugal with the family budget," said Amy Colton, founding member of the Marketing to Moms Coalition and executive vice president of Current Lifestyle Marketing. "While many brands are hoping for a banner recovery year, moms are telling us that for ancillary school categories like fashion and electronics, families still are trying to spend less than last year."

Back to School Spending Highlights

Moms of teenagers will spend slightly more ($458) but still less than last year's average ($479). Overall the only category to remain stable is actual academic school supplies ($65 this year compared to $63 in 2010). Other spending estimates include:

  • Clothing  (except athletic shoes), down 6 percent from 2010 to $126
  • Sports gear, down 5 percent from 2010 to $69
  • Electronics (calculators, computers), down 10 percent from 2010 to $45

On a brighter note, moms say they will spend less on standard school activity fees in 2011, which they say will be down 12 percent from 2010 to $57 on average this year.

"Schools are definitely feeling the pinch," added Colton. "But while standard school fees may be appearing to come down, the supplies parents are being asked to provide is skyrocketing – and we're not talking pencils and erasers. Moms are buying storage bags, disinfectant wipes and toilet products for their child's class."

In fact, almost 80 percent of moms expect to buy non-academic supplies for their child's classroom as part of required supply lists.

More Online Purchases Planned

Most moms prefer to make their purchase in a store (54%) but more say they will do some of their 2011 shopping online (46%), showing a significant increase from 2010.  Last year moms anticipated spending $82 on average online, while they predict $98 for 2011.  

The nationally representative sample was conducted June 2011, through funding provided by Current Lifestyle Marketing and Weber Shandwick. The survey of 1,270 moms with children under 18 living at home looked at spending plans for the 2011 school year. More details about the report are available at

About The Marketing to Moms Coalition

The Marketing to Moms Coalition is the only industry group dedicated to furthering an understanding of America's most powerful consumers.  A not-for-profit organization, the group's goal is to share knowledge and insights about moms to help marketers create programs that engage and empower this driving force of the American economy.  More information about the coalition can be found at

SOURCE Marketing to Moms Coalition