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10 Reasons Target’s Teacher Promotion Works

A teacher's backpack filled with classroom supplies purchased in response to Target's personalized marketing campaign.

10 Reasons Target’s Teacher Promotion Works

by Tony Coray
Senior Content Strategist
Posted on Jun 28, 2019

When a brand promotion is so popular it creates its own news cycle, you know you’re onto something big. 

That’s how Target felt last summer when it launched a personalized marketing campaign giving teachers a 15% discount on classroom supplies. The exclusive offer made headlines in major publications like USA Today, as well as local TV stations, industry newsletters, and teacher advocacy sites. 

Target is running the back-to-school promotion again, and the press is paying close attention. Here’s why retail marketers should, too.

Marketing to Teachers is a Winning Bet 

There are nearly five million teachers in the US who engage in $11 billion in credit card spending annually. And a lot of that spending goes toward supporting their students: teachers collectively spend $1.5 billion out-of-pocket on school supplies for their classrooms each year.

According to our teacher survey, individual teachers spend an average of $652 out of pocket annually on classroom supplies, with one teacher spending more than $7,000. Creating promotions just for teachers recognizes the service they provide and the fact that they’re using their own money to make a difference. That’s a recipe for great customer loyalty.

$1.5 Billion: the amount of money teachers spend out-of-pocket on school supplies each year.

Teachers Reward Brands That Honor Them

Our survey also revealed that teachers tend to shop most often at retailers that offer teacher discounts. How do retailers like Target make this work so successfully for them? Gated, exclusive offers. 

Gated offers are the key to personalized marketing, and digital verification is the key to their success. This simple yet powerful promotion is easy for brands to create and for customers to use. Here’s how it works:

  • A brand, like Target, creates a gated offer that is personalized to a very specific group, such as teachers, students, seniors, or the military. 
  • Customers access the offer directly through the brand’s website by entering a minimal amount of basic information—such as name, email, and school. 
  • SheerID’s Digital Verification Platform uses thousands of authoritative data sources to confirm customers are actually members of the target group and eligible for the offer. 
  • Customers are instantly verified and can immediately take advantage of the offer.

While digital verification protects the integrity of the offer, the real power for marketers is in the exclusivity it enables. And as Target discovered, this form of personalized marketing works exceedingly well. 

Jill Sando, one of Target’s senior vice presidents, said the gated offer saved teachers millions of dollars, and that the response to the campaign was “phenomenal.”

10 Reasons Target’s Teacher Promotion Works

Target’s gated teacher offer is personalized marketing at its best because it:

01 Leverages the Power of Identity

Consumers find gated offers more compelling than promotions based on behavioral data. The exclusivity of gated offers tap into consumers’ deep sense of belonging to a tribe. Teachers identify profoundly with their profession, and 94% of them say they will go out of their way to shop at companies that provide teacher discounts. 

02 Demonstrates Intimacy with the Audience

Target’s offer is focused on what teachers need. Not just pens and pencils, but other classroom essentials like facial tissues, hand sanitizer, and classroom storage. The offer even includes Pillowfort Furniture—perfect for making a cozy space for kids. 

Target knows that teachers will respond. When asked what kind of discounts they prefer, 92% of teachers said they prefer discounts on classroom supplies.

But this year the brand is going further and rewarding teachers directly by including men’s and women’s apparel and accessories. Extending the discount expresses the brand’s deep commitment to this audience.

“I’m excited we’re bringing the event back again this year with an expanded assortment of items eligible for the 15% discount, helping teachers save and get what they need for the upcoming school year,” Sando said in a statement to the USA Today.

03 Provides a Great Customer Experience

Target’s latest teacher promotion runs from July 13 through July 20, 2019, giving teachers a week to take advantage of it. And teachers have the convenience of verifying their eligibility as early June 26, so they can start shopping as soon as the offer is live. 

Plus verification occurs instantly and within Target’s brand experience, making it a streamlined experience. And once they’re verified, teachers can redeem their discount online or in a Target store.

04 Respects Their Privacy

Personalized marketing doesn’t have to be creepy. Target’s gated offer requires minimal personal information and is consent-based. When customers redeem a gated offer, they explicitly express interest in engaging with the brand. This is great for brands because it enables them to collect zero-party data and easily comply with any privacy regulations.

05 Maximizes Timing

The back-to-school context for Target’s gated offer is seasonally perfect. Launching the campaign just as teachers are preparing for fall classes helps it stand out from other generic promotions.

06 Creates a Sense of Urgency

Limiting the time window of the offer to one week spurs teachers to act now. And allowing them to verify in advance empowers them to prepare early and gives them peace-of-mind regarding their eligibility.

07 Motivates Purchases

Gated offers attract customers and inspire them to make purchases. Eighty-eight percent of teachers report they actively search for companies that offer teacher discounts. And 58% of shoppers say a gated offer would make them more likely to buy.

08 Incites Loyalty

Teachers appreciate brands that appreciate them. More than four in five teachers said they’d choose a retailer that offered a teacher discount over one that didn’t. 

09 Encourages Advocacy

Good news spreads fast. Eighty-four percent of teachers recommend to families, friends, and educators those retailers that offer teacher discounts. 

Eighty-eight percent of teachers report they actively search for teacher discounts.

10 Expresses Brand Identity and Raises Awareness

Being known as teacher-friendly pleases all of Target’s customers. Everyone recognizes that educating future generations is a tremendous responsibility. Honoring teachers generates goodwill among all the communities that support them.

Target’s Campaign is Personalized Marketing at its Best

Target’s July teacher promotion is a textbook example of personalized marketing because it is well-crafted, well-timed, and focused on an important audience. It also provides a level of exclusivity that connects people with a brand and moves them to act, which facilitates deep customer loyalty. 

Brands that want to emulate this kind of personalized marketing can reach more than just teachers. They can use gated offers to target students, seniors, government employees, members of the military, and more. SheerID makes it easy to implement those offers and create shopping experiences that delight customers—and make headlines.

Ready to Make Teachers Your Next Growth Segment?

Learn how you can tap into this lucrative market by watching our webinar recording of 7 Best Practices for Marketing to Teachers or contact us.

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