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Parents of college-bound kids earn A in mobile shopping: report

Approximately 42 percent of parents with children heading off to college for the first time plan to do 25 percent of their shopping on mobile, significantly outpacing parents of younger children, according to a new report from Rubicon Project.

The company’s annual Back-to-School Consumer Pulse Survey also found that nearly half of all parents with college-bound freshmen clicked on a mobile ad in the past week and a third made a purchase off of it. The findings point to the growing importance of mobile for influencing back-to-school purchases as busy parents embrace mobile’s convenience.

“From a mobile perspective, what is really exciting is that we are seeing 60 percent of parents turning to their mobile devices for at least some back-to-school shopping, with 30 percent of parents planning to do at least a quarter of their total shopping on mobile,” said Dallas Lawrence, chief communications officer at Rubicon Project. “And this is especially true for parents of college freshmen who are significantly outpacing K-12 parents in using mobile devices for some of their back-to-school shopping.”

“So, if retailers are looking to influence parents this back-to-school season, it is absolutely imperative that they think mobile and online as parents busy schedules have them increasingly turning to their mobile devices and computers and as parents are getting more and more comfortable with in-app purchases,” he said.

Dads love mobile
Overall, 30 percent of parents will do at least 25 percent of their back-to-school shopping on a mobile device, with this number dropping to 25 for parents of children in kindergarten through senior year of high school.

Dads outpace moms in mobile purchasing, with 41 percent of dads saying they will do at least a quarter of their online shopping on a mobile device, compared to just 24 percent of moms.

Dads are also more impulsive, with 51 percent having clicked on a mobile ad within the past week and 35 percent having purchased based on a mobile ad. On desktop, 56 percent have clicked on an ad and 38 percent purchased.

Shopping apps
The report also found that retailers’ mobile applications are becoming more popular, with 47 percent of parents having the Amazon app. Additionally, 40 percent of parents of college-bound freshmen use at least three shopping apps.

Parents are using apps in a number of ways, with 71 percent planning to use an app before they make a purchase, 66 percent to compare prices and 64 percent to find out about sales.

Significantly, for the first time ever, most parents plan to skip bricks-and-mortar stores for their tech purchases and name Amazon as their preferred retailer for these purchases.

Parents are also becoming more comfortable with in-app purchases as more than a third of all parents allow their children to make in-app purchases.

Counting down
Rubicon Project found that 34 percent of all parents have already started back-to-school shopping, with 61 percent planning to spend more than they did last year.

Walmart holds onto its spot as top retailer for apparel and school supplies, preferred by 66 percent and 77 percent of parents, respectively.

For K-12 parents, Amazon has moved ahead of Staples as the third most popular destination for school supplies.

“Marketers are obviously getting much more savvy about their mobile advertising campaigns,” Mr. Lawrence said. “They are no longer trying to squeeze desktop advertisements into the mobile experience.

“They are creating holistic mobile campaigns,” he said. “And we can tell this is having a positive impact as nearly half of all college-bound freshmen parents clicked on a mobile ad in the past week and a third made a purchase off of it.”