Will smartphone apps kill social media as a back-to-school shopping tool?

August 12, 2015 by Becky Yerak, Chicago Tribune

Using social media to plan back-to-school shopping is so 2011.

That's the word from a new survey by consulting firm Deloitte, which found that only 10 percent of respondents said they rely on for back-to-school , down from 18 percent last year and 35 percent in 2011.

The question that was posed: "Do you plan to use social media sites (i.e., blogs, discussion groups or social networks) to assist in your back-to-school shopping?"

Bob Falcey, a U.S. marketing sector leader for Deloitte's retail and distribution practice, shared his theory on the drop in consumers using social media channels to strategize their shopping this season.

He believes tools like are lessening the need to use social media for shopping feedback.

"While many parents use social media, we hypothesize they are doing so to connect with family and friends rather than to assist with shopping," Falcey said. "We also believe consumers have greater access to other sources of information - beyond social media - to get what they need, such as retailer and price-comparison apps."

Deloitte commissioned its eighth annual back-to-school survey of 1,015 U.S. parents with children in grades kindergarten through 12th grade from July 5 through July 8. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Chicago-area mom Marianne Walsh, whom the Chicago Tribune accompanied last week on a back-to-school shopping trip with her three sons, is illustrative of the trend.

In years past, she'd visit a Facebook group for moms in her neighborhood to share thoughts on what their children were required to buy for school.

"A lot of these moms, we share schools and our kids overlap, so if you have that hard-to-find thing, you'll put it out there like, 'Where'd everybody get this?'" Walsh said. "Sometimes the moms will post, 'Hey, this store is having a great sale,' and it's something we all need. That has been helpful in the past."

But Walsh said she has visited the site less frequently this year, saying the latest shopping lists of her three boys seemed "pretty straightforward - nothing too weird."

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