School Marketers Struggle with Covid Impact in Q3

Comeback Anticipated for Fourth Quarter 2020

Oct 27, 2020

By Bob Stimolo

Overall, school marketers anticipate a comeback in the fourth quarter of this year.  Few companies expect a complete return to “normalcy” by year-end.  Nevertheless, virtually all school marketers believe they will see an improving trend and a much better fourth quarter.

The third quarter was a disappointment for the majority of school marketers.  Most were hopeful that schools would begin to reopen and sales would begin to return to normal.  However, a large number of school systems went to all or partly remote teaching.  In many cases, teachers went to school and students stayed home on their computers, resulting in a continued decline in the sale of educational materials.

The Covid-19 Pandemic was forecast to drop Ed Market third quarter sales by -13%.  However, survey respondents reported actual sales declines of -21%.  The overall sales forecast for Q4 is -11% indicating that the majority of school marketers are anticipating that the market will start to comeback before year-end.  The forecast for full year 2020 is -21%.

Remote Learning and the Economy Take the Blame

When asked what reasons school marketers attributed to third quarter sales, 81% said it was due to remote learning, 48% also blamed the overall economy.  Almost half of respondents reported that they were taking some steps toward developing their product line to accommodate remote learning.  Over 40% reported they were taking many steps to do so.  Altogether over 90% of respondents are trying to accommodate remote learning in their product lines.

Less Competition in the Mailbox

For those companies that mail in January of 2021 there will be a significant decrease in competition in the mailbox.  Fifty-one percent of survey respondents said they have no plans to make a January mailing.  Another 26% plan to mail a smaller quantity than January of 2020.  Only 4% intend to increase their mail quantities.  At the same time, more than three-quarters (77%) of the respondents anticipate that sales will improve by the fall of 2021.

Sales representatives remain the most effective advertising and promotion media with 36% of respondents saying so.  Remote teaching helped email outpace direct mail as the most effective advertising and promotion media 25% to 17%.

Much More Data When You Participate

Survey participants receive much more data.  In addition to overall survey results, they receive breakdowns by industry type including publishing, school supplies, and furniture.  Also, they receive breakouts by market type including elementary, middle/junior, and senior high school.  All individual survey responses are kept in strict confidence.


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