Back to school – uniforms

It’s that not-so-joyful time of year for mums when we have to schlep around the shops looking for school uniform. It’s time to weigh up the pros and cons of costs versus quality, money back guarantees versus promises of kid-tested, whatever you can grab versus careful planning with compliant children.
We asked our mums what their back to school bugbears are and how brands could ease their shopping worries.

  • Finding offers. We know M&S currently have £5 off when you spend £25 on kidswear (so you can get those tights, vests and socks you need for the start of school) and there are deals highlighted on Money Saving Expert. But mums don’t have the time to haul through site after site looking for information. A savvy brand or company would be putting all the back to school offers in one place (even as a competitior price comparision) so we can quickly see where to get the best deals.

  • Mums want things that last. If your products fall apart in a week then we won’t come and buy from you again, and we’ll tell our mum friends not to buy from you. Most companies have gone some way to dealing with this by offering money back guarantees or saying products are independently tested. As a mum I’d like to know how this testing took place, was it with boys or girls? In a lab or in the playground?

  • What we do know is when mums find something they like (and that could be either cost driven or quality driven – it depends on the mum) then they stick with it. One mum told us she choose Next because a friend had told her about it (the trusted inner circle) and the quality was good so she has now stuck with it. Another mum chooses Next because they offer slim fit trousers for her tall but slender son. One of our mums, Susan, told us she sticks with Clarks because they last the whole school year. It’s worth considering innovative ways to connect with mums on the ground because that’s where conversations about where to go for uniforms are happening.

  • We’re seeing brands such as Tesco and M&S offer a ‘Your School Uniform’ – schools sign up, allowing parents to purchase school logo items and the school receives a cashback amount. It seems a very smart way to connect with parents and benefit the school. Is there a way you as a brand can push mums to purchase but still offer something additional in return?

  • Some mums shop online and some shop instore. Free delivery and easy ordering are a must for online. Instore – the stress points for mums are trying to track down the right size when they are shopping last minute. As a brand how can you work on this? Last minute fast delivery?

  • And finally to bags. We’ve identified a gap in the market for appropriately sized bags for primary school children – we’re hearing from mums that either they aren’t big enough to hold books or they are so large they threaten to topple over kids. Indepth research and testing would easily overcome this problem and would make those bags really stand out to mums.

Good luck to all our mums (and dads) as they start the new academic year! If you’d like to better connect with mums and understand what they want then drop us aline.


  1. Really interesting findings. I normally shop online, but with school uniforms feel like it has to be done in the shop with the kids there so you know if it fits or not. And at this time of year the shops are hot and busy and the kids can be grumpy cos they don't want to be reminded of going back to school.

    I would love it if retailers could work on making school uniform shopping easier and the shops themselves more fun places to be. For example, our local M&S only has one tiny changing room in the children's department and at this time of year that's just not enough.

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