Here is some fascinating trend data from Forbes on the buying power behind this year’s back to school season. With 56% of parents looking to spend more than they did in 2014, there is a serious market share available for the brands who can capture their attention. And those who do get the attention AND provide a positive customer experience will certainly capture revenue for the years that follow. –Sailthru

Back to school shopping is officially underway, and some key findings from a recent Consumer Pulse survey from Rubicon Project (NYSE: RUBI) offers insight on how much parents are spending, when they’re shopping, what they’re buying, and where they’re purchasing products from during this back to school season.

Parents surveyed for this study were those of K-12 as well as college students, and among the more notable finds included:

• Nearly a quarter of K-12 parents have already begun back to school shopping

• 56% of parents plan to spend more money per child on back to school shopping than they did last year

• K-12 parents plan to spend on average $873 per child while college parents plan to spend more than $1,100 per child

• 38% of parents intend to purchase new tech products (e.g. laptops, tablets, mobile phones) to meet in-class needs and requirements

• The top three stores parents plan to purchase tech items from this season are: Walmart, Amazon and Best Buy

• 72% of college parents pay for their students back to school items even though an astounding 75% of parents say their college student has a paying job

• 61% of parents said store sales/promotions are a top determinant of when they conduct back to school shopping

• 74% of K-12 parents said they’d rather shop at a chain store vs. a small business if it meant they’d get the better deal

Moms Rule 

While summer may still  be in full swing, it’s clear that school isn’t far from consumer minds. Leading this movement are – not surprisingly – moms, whom made up the majority of product decisions across all product categories surveyed.

“Mom is clearly signaling that she is in control of her family’s back to school spending. She will not be pressured into making purchases in small pre-determined windows and TV is no longer the primary driver shaping her buying. She knows what she needs to buy and what she is willing to spend and she is just as comfortable making the purchase on a mobile device as well as walking into a Target,” shares Dallas Lawrence, a senior vice president at Rubicon Project.

Four out of five parents surveyed (83%) claim to decide where to go back-to-school shopping, while 75% of parents say their college student has a paying job either during the summer or the school year to help out with school related expenses. This said, a shocking 72% of college parents surveyed expect to pay the bill for all or most of their college student’s back-to-school items.

While moms are leading consumer decisions, this same survey revealed that they rarely shop alone. Children typically join mothers in their back to school shopping excursions, with 73% identified as both joining their moms while shopping and also weighing heavily on their final purchase decisions.  This is particularly true for clothing and school supplies.

Discounts & Incentives 

Nearly two-thirds of parents surveyed (61%) said store sales and promotions are the top determinant of when they conduct their back-to-school shopping, proving to merchants of all sizes that sales, incentives and back to school specials do make a difference. Additionally, nearly three in four parents (74%) said they prefer to shop at a big box retailer or large chain store if it meant getting a better deal. As Lawrence further explains, deals and discounts help create big business for those retailers willing to make this a priority in their back to school marketing.

“Our research found that discounts and deals are driving most back to school purchases, with nearly two-thirds of parents intending to choose what they buy, where they buy, and when they buy based on store sales and promotions. This is motivating parents to be far more flexible when it comes to the timing of their back to school shopping, so they can reap the financial benefits of shopping early for the best deals,” explains Lawrence.

The Final Countdown 

With back to school sales already in full swing and parents clearly paying attention even mid-summer, the race to lead back to school shopping is clearly underway. Who will come in first among the nation’s most popular back to school merchants – including Walmart, Target and Amazon – is yet to be unveiled, but this is a race certainly worth watching.

This article was written by Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.