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Moms Get Smart About Smartphones for Back-to-School

  |  August 31, 2012   |  Comments

But will marketers make the grade?

It's that time of year again. The back-to-school bell is going off and before kids can race to their classrooms, busy moms need to account for the three-inch growth spurts over the summer, the newest backpack styles, and the latest in three-ring binders.

I have to admit that this hectic season threw me a bit off-guard this year. In fact, in juggling my professional life and family, I almost forgot about back-to-school myself.

Thankfully, my own mobile device helped provide a wonderful reminder, when my smartphone calendar beeped to let me know that it was time to review the findings for a new study called "Moms Go Back-to-School With Mobile." The IAB Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence joined forces with Meredith Parents Network to conduct this look into the lives of moms in the U.S. and their smartphone usage during the back-to-school season. Happily, the results were gathered just in the nick of time for me to remember to grab my smartphone and get myself - and my two daughters - organized for the school year. And, according to the study, I'm most certainly not alone.

The moms of today are truly mobile and appear to be pioneering the use of mobile devices as personal assistants, helping them navigate their daily activities. I have said it before and I will say it again; smartphones have become the remote control to our lives.

With the summer sun fading away, "Moms Go Back-to-School With Mobile" surveyed U.S. moms of all ages, and the results confirm the importance of smartphones in making moms' lives more bearable during this hectic season. Eighty-five percent of moms with a smartphone said that their device makes back-to-school less stressful, and 87 percent agreed that having a smartphone has made being a mom easier for them in general.

This sentiment isn't just confined to young mothers, either: while 89 percent of smartphone-owning moms under 25 agreed that their device makes back-to-school less stressful, 85 percent of moms 35 to 44 and 83 percent of moms over 45 agreed as well.

When you ask what moms are doing with their phones this back-to-school season, the answer is pretty clear: everything. From staying in touch and organized to shopping to just having fun, the smartphone plays a multitude of roles. For example, about one in three smartphone-user moms in the U.S. will be using that device to communicate with their kids' teachers or school. Nearly a third (30 percent) will use a smartphone to organize a family calendar, and the same percentage will keep their to-do list on their device.

From a marketing point of view, shopping activities are probably the most important to track. One in four smartphone-user moms will use the device to find coupons or discounts for local stores. Twenty-one percent use their device to build or check shopping lists. Moreover, 20 percent will do back-to-school shopping directly on their smartphone.

When we looked at the data by grade level of kids, moms with kids in preschool were much more likely to do all of the phone-based activities we asked about. In part, that's because moms of young children tend to be younger themselves. But it's also a sign of the future: these moms will almost certainly stick to their mobile behaviors as their kids grow. Thus, retailers pitching back-to-school specials need to make sure their messages are getting across on mobile screens, because that's where busy moms are increasingly going to be looking - and living.

So, lesson learned: mobile is a very important device in any mom's life, especially during times of the year when things get particularly chaotic, like back-to-school. Needless to say, I will certainly be making the most of my smartphone, as I am late out the gate and have lots of work to do before my girls go back to the classroom. With that said, does anybody know the hot backpack design to get this year? Never mind - I just found it on my smartphone!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anna Bager

Anna Bager is vice president and general manager of the Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence at the Interactive Advertising Bureau. The Mobile Center, an independently funded and staffed unit inside the IAB, is charged with driving the growth of the mobile marketing, advertising, and media marketplace.

Prior to joining the IAB, Bager was heading business intelligence at Ericsson Multimedia and head of research at Ericsson's Business Consulting unit. Earlier, she was research and consulting manager for IDC EMEA.

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