Just under two-thirds of school parents in Saudi Arabia claim their back-to-school spending has increased by 5-10% in 2015 compared to the previous year.
Data released by YouGov from school parents interviewed in Saudi Arabia in the run up to the new academic school year, suggests promotions may have been a key driver of spend with three-quarters (75%) claiming they took advantage of sales and deals when purchasing for the new school year.
School uniforms and stationary were rated by parents as the most important back to school purchases (62% each). Interestingly, school technology such as iPad and Kindle devices were deemed the least important purchases by the largest proportion of parents (63%).
When it comes to brand consideration, the study shows most parents tend to be 'brand loyal' as long as the deal is right, with 48% claiming they prefer to buy known-brands that are discounted or reasonably priced when making new school purchases. This sentiment was most accentuated among expats (54% vs. 44% of Saudis). Just under one-third (31%) of parents surveyed claimed the brand name does not matter to them when it comes to school purchases. As may have been expected, this was especially the case among those parents in the lowest income group (46% vs. 21% of those in the most affluent group).
The survey highlighted the high prevalence of back-to-school promotions at this time of the year with 40% of parents claiming they did not have to look for the best deals on offer as there were promotions everywhere. Going online was relatively unpopular with just 10% buying items online and 9% searching for items online before going in-store to purchase. Referrals from other parents/friends on what is good to buy were also not particularly popular (9%).
Last minute purchasing was common amongst the majority of parents with 51% claiming they made their major purchases in preparation for the new school year only 1-2 weeks in advance. This behaviour was particularly prevalent amongst high income-earners who earn $5,333 and above per month (65%).
Considering the key drivers of back to school purchases, parents feel the most pressure to purchase new school items from their children (35%). Self-imposed pressure is also considerable with 29% of parents surveyed selecting themselves as the main source of pressure. This is driven by their desire to offer their children the best.
Despite an increase in spending compared to last year, parents in Saudi Arabia are still fairly resourceful with 62% claiming they re-use school items from the previous year with most (36%) handing them down to their next child. The tendency to re-use items decreases as parents' income level increases - 71% of parents with a monthly income below $1,600 claim they re-use last year’s purchases compared to 42% of parents with a monthly income of $5,333 or more.
YouGov’s Senior Research Director for Education, Joao Neves, commented, "Back to school time can be a stressful and expensive period for parents. It’s therefore not surprising to see many parents in Saudi Arabia take advantage of deals and promotions at this time of the year or even look to ‘recycle’ school items from previous years. It's interesting to see much of the pressure to purchase new items is self-imposed as parents look to provide their child with the very best and latest in the market."
Research for this study was conducted online, using YouGov's Omnibus research service amongst 634 parents with children at school in Saudi Arabia, between 25 August and 2 September 2015. Data is broadly representative of the online population in Saudi Arabia.