TPN Shopper Safari: Back-to-School

In the latest TPN Shopper Safari Trek Report, TPN highlights four key themes for the Back-to-School 2017 Shopping Season.

TPN’s Shopper Safari encourages immersion in retail and commerce by leveraging our employee network. This effort helps foster continuous analysis and conversation of the retail landscape.


Back-to-School Shoppers Plan to Purchase

As the new school year kicks into high gear for most of the country, parents and students will find a changing shopping landscape. No longer are they racing to retail stores without a plan for braving the crowd days before the school year starts. Digitally-driven brick and mortar purchases are changing the way consumers shop.

Shopping at brick-and-mortar retail stores without being prepared is less popular with back-to-school shoppers. Digitally driven shopping now guides the shopping habits of consumers looking to grab better deals and avoid long lines. Digital is also helping them plan their back-to-school shopping strategy throughout the calendar year. Consumers are using apps to research products on their mobile phones. The statistics help explain the behavior shift:

  • According to Deloitte, last year nearly half of every dollar spent on apparel in brick-and-mortar stores was digitally-influenced, a number that jumped to 62 cents of every dollar in the electronics category.
  • Nearly 4 in 10 of surveyed parents shopping for children in grades K-12 said the back to school shopping season is less important to their families because they replenish school supplies throughout the year and feel less need to stock up.
  • And 31% of consumers complete their shopping after the school year begins.



As part of our back-to-school Shopper Safari retail audit, we saw four key themes: 1) Battle for the best prices, 2) Impactful point-of-sale displays, 3) Charitable and caused-based program overlays, and 4) Selling solutions. Click here to view our Shopper Safari recap.





Retailers should be targeting a window larger than the traditional back-to-school shopping period for their marketing efforts. Back-to-school shopping is now a year round endeavor, so opportunities exist for brands and retailers to capitalize on that. By focusing on consumers and their reliance on digital, retailers can drive in-store purchases more successfully. Digitally fluent shoppers have a plan before they walk through the doors, and in-store purchases of items like apparel are easily planned for. According to Bazaar Voice, 61% of back-to-school shoppers research online before purchasing in-store.

As consumers continue to look for more convenient shopping experiences for their students, digital allows them opportunities to plan and to purchase when it’s convenient for them. As retailers look to future shopping seasons such as Black Friday and the Christmas shopping season, the goal should be to stay on top of this shift in consumer behavior and take advantage of the digital movement to boost their in-store sales.

TPN Seasonal Pulse: SUMMER!


ABOUT SEASONAL PULSE: The TPN Seasonal Pulse is a quantitative tracking study fielded 6 times per year. This work is a deep dive into the consumer and shopper mindsets and behaviors of our client’s target audiences during the most important shopping seasons of the year: New Year, Spring, Summer, Back-to-School, Fall and Winter Holidays. To get more information from the 2017 summer study and go beyond the infographic, contact

Games, Guardians, and Grumpy Cat @ Toy Fair 2014!

The 112th annual American International Toy Fair came together in New York Feb. 15th – 20th, with more than 1,000 exhibiting manufacturers, distributors, importers and sales agents from around the globe to showcasing their toy and entertainment products. Among the big trends happening in the coming year are hot “mature”  TV shows, such as Sons of Anarchy, Game of Thrones, and The Walking Dead, supplanting movies as the buzz-worthy toy licenses.

Another ongoing trend is “Boys Toys for Girls”, following the publicity garnered by GoldieBlox last year, many manufacturers are taking traditional boys’ toys such as building blocks and combat weapons and putting a female spin on them to allow your daughters’ entry in the neighborhood Hunger Games reenactments. And we’re always happy to see Grumpy Cat, even if she doesn’t seem particularly thrilled to see us. Check out all this and much more in our recap video tour of Toy Fair 2014!

Valentine’s Day Gets a Facelift

Millennials, described as “confident, connected and open to change” by PewResearch, are living up to their characteristics according to TPN’s Seasonal Pulse New Year 2014 study.

Among all generations, millennials are the most likely group to “change it up” this Valentine’s Day. Thirty percent of millennials are planning to celebrate the romantic holiday differently than last year (see graph below), providing a huge opportunity for marketers to influence their plans – especially if millennials are trying to impress a new special someone.

Further, 21 percent of millennials plan to stay home and cook a special meal this Valentine’s Day. As notorious foodies who are always online, millennials will be hunting down new meal inspirations across social media and the web. Grocery retailers and online brands should be targeting this generation as they plan for their night in.

While 29 percent of millennials do plan on going out for a meal, those staying in, including myself, won’t have to make a last-minute reservation or spend an arm and a leg on food. Maybe it’s me, but I think millennials may be on to something.


Source: TPN Seasonal Pulse, New Year 2014

For more information regarding TPN and our Seasonal Pulse findings, please visit

Black November: What Are Shoppers Really Feeling & Doing?

Media are invited to register for the retail industry’s first-ever TPN Live Shopper Pulse™, an online dashboard created by dynamic retail marketing agency TPN to monitor real-time consumer sentiment and behaviors during the new Black Friday shopping frontier, which now begins Thanksgiving night.

“TPN designed this retail anthropology study to gain unprecedented access into shoppers’ minds and modes when they are ‘in-the-moment’,” said Sharon Love, TPN’s chief executive officer. “We want to understand what is in the shoppers’ psyches while they are engaged in the sport of holiday shopping, and what spending or social behaviors they exhibit during THE major shopping event of 2013.”

The TPN Live Shopper Pulse aims to measure the pulse of approximately 2,000 “out-and-about” shoppers in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas and Miami, capturing the heartbeat of this vital shopping period. Located outside big box stores such as Walmart, Macy’s, Target and Best Buy, pollsters will ask shoppers questions, which will immediately upload to the online dashboard, in five key areas:

PPlanning or spending?  Are shoppers planning to spend more or less this holiday season? Are they prepared with a list of items and the people they’ll buy for?        

UUsing technology or turned-off?  Have shoppers downloaded mobile apps, powered up their device and checked it twice? Once in-store, did their mobile device help or hurt their shopping plans today?

LLooking or buyingAre shoppers braving the crowds simply to browse, or are they on a mission to buy? What are the most popular retail destinations around the country?

SSentiment in the moment?  Are shoppers excited, stressed, or feeling guilty for spending too much? Does this feeling change depending on when they are out? Are they shopping with friends or family as part of a tradition to combine holiday cheer – or is it considered a holiday chore?  

EExpectations being met?  Did Black Friday deals live up to shoppers’ expectations this year?  And did retailers stock what shoppers wanted at the prices they were hoping for?


TPN’s technology partner, GroundCntrl, is the real-time mobile and data analytics platform that powers TPN’s Live Shopper Pulse Dashboard.

Field teams will be positioned outside stores beginning Thanksgiving night at 6 p.m., through Black Friday. They will use a mobile app to survey shoppers around the country as they leave the stores.  This structured data is gathered in real-time, and aggregated into easy-to-understand charts that will be accessible via an online dashboard.


TPN is offering special access to the Live Shopper Pulse dashboard so reporters and editors can visit regularly and view how shoppers’ attitudes and behaviors evolve during these two critical shopping days.

To register, send an email request to Users will then receive an email with simple instructions on how to log in and access the live dashboards.


The real-time data will be complemented by analysis from TPN experts who will provide “in-the-moment” insights live on Twitter (@TPNRetail) and scheduled analysis every two hours via the TPN Love of Retail Blog (

To schedule interviews with TPN experts for holiday shopping predictions or to analyze Live Shopper Pulse data throughout Thanksgiving evening and Black Friday, please contact Laura Muma at 773.960.3960, or

The Pinterest Black Friday Reveal

As we enter the initial push for the holidays (just as we’re coming down from our Halloween sugar high), retailers are getting shoppers geared up for Black Friday even earlier this year thanks to Pinterest. Home Improvement retailer Lowes is teasing its Black Friday deals in October on a dedicated Black Friday board with silhouettes of the items that’ll be on special (See here). You don’t have to wait until Black Friday to find out what they are either. Shoppers can visit the board on November 4 for their big reveal (though as of Oct 31, some of the items were already being revealed), which gives them over 3 weeks to plan their shopping trips without waiting on circulars or emails (Lowes begins its Black Friday online Thanksgiving morning at 4am). Lowes is quite active on Pinterest, particularly targeting its inspired, DYI female shopper, and has over 3.5 million followers. This approach is already garnering buzz among the shopping and Black Friday deal websites.

Macy’s is another retailer teasing its Black Friday Deals on Pinterest (See here). Though not as secretive as Lowe’s approach, it’s more of a sneak preview of fun sales to come.

For most shoppers, Black Friday is all about the hunt and scoring some amazing deals. Websites like and may not be mind blowing in terms of design, but they certainly garner traction with those shoppers wanting to be in the know about the sales as soon as possible. And as if there were any doubt, there is a Black Friday app, so cleverly called Black Friday App, that will let a user browse leaked and confirmed sales across major retailers as well as start a personal countdown clock to the big day. Yet with all this technology, retailers will still produce sales circulars because they know that for some shoppers, it’s not just about the sales and the hustle and bustle of the crowds, it’s about tradition. It’s about gathering around the circulars after an amazingly delicious Thanksgiving dinner to plan your route (or plan of attack) with your family/favorite shopper buddies to get the most out of your Black Friday.

So get ready–Black Friday is less than a month away!

Photo: Pinterest



TPN Spring Seasonal Pulse

Spring is here! Well, at least it is for those of us based in Texas.

The big spring news at TPN: our 2013 Spring Seasonal Pulse has begun. Seasonal pulse is our national survey that provides a deep dive into consumer mindsets, attitudes and feelings along with the behaviors they demonstrate both as consumers and shoppers, combined with a national audit of the retail environments they encounter in the most important shopping seasons of the year.

For more information, please contact or