Social Pulse: Adapting to a New Back To School Market

By: Nicole Martin, MPH

September 2, 2020

Clarabridge Analytics
Text Analytics
Social Media Analytics


Date of Data Pull: 7/13/2020 10:31AM
Source: Twitter, API Connectors
Current Volume: 30,879
Date Range: May 5, 2020 to July 13, 2020
Tweets Related to COVID-19 & Supplemental Topics Classification Models Used: WHO Framework Model, Emotions Model, & Industry Specific Models

Clarabridge client, Vera Bradley, leverages Natural Language Understanding to analyze this year’s back to school shopping trends and consumer requests.

The 2020-2021 school year begins even as COVID cases continue to rise throughout the country. States and families are making tough decisions about heading back to class or learning online. The end of August is normally a time of shopping for new backpacks and cute sneakers, but this year’s lists look a little different. Vera Bradley is using the Clarabridge platform to better understand back-to-school product needs, particularly the desired qualities of this year’s hottest product: masks! Let’s take a look at consumer emotions, trending products, and the characteristics of a great mask.

Vera Bradley

Nothing is predictable this year, and normal purchase patterns are irrelevant. Retailers today must have a customer feedback hub that provides timely, accurate, and actionable insights to ensure their products meet rapidly-changing consumer needs. Vera Bradley has implemented Clarabridge as its customer experience management system, enabling it to monitor feedback for customer complaints and suggestions and then act to continuously improve products and services.

As one example illustrates, Vera Bradley leveraged our drill down capabilities to isolate important feedback about their masks, which are a hot commodity this year.


“Masks have been a very popular item for back to school this year.  Our Backpacks, Lunch bags, Lanyards and Zip ID’s are always super popular but this year our customers wanted masks – in multiple quantities for every day of the week. We were able to monitor customer sentiment around masks, mask availability and even shipping delays.  Paige, our Voice of Customer Analyst passed along any product suggestion or themes to our Product Development and Quality teams.   Clarabridge gave us the ability to pull together our customer social media feedback, product reviews, calls into the Contact Center and survey feedback.  During this crisis, we had a 100% panoramic view of what our customers were telling us throughout the back to school season.”

Susan Campbell, Vera Bradley, Director, Customer Experience


Additional Clarabridge Findings

We also conducted our own analysis of back to school shopping conversations on Twitter. By applying Clarabridge’s out-of-the-box emotions model, we assessed the top feelings expressed by those prepping for the new school year.

Figure 1: Emotions Towards Back to School

Figure 1: Above shows the top three emotion groups. Kindness and Hope, Fear and Confusion, and Anticipation appear as top emotions expressed.

Individuals express a variety of mixed emotions including hope for a good new school year and nervousness for the challenges the school year presents. To understand how individuals are prepping for their school year plans, Clarabridge created a model to look at types of items individuals shop for. The image below shows the four categories of back to school items discussed. Drilling specifically into clothing, this year (no surprise!) masks appear as a top item parents shop for.

Figure 2 & 3: Back to School Shopping Items

Figure 2 & 3: The above image shows the top categories discussed related to back to school shopping. Figure 3 shows a drill down into clothing, showing masks and athleisure as top back to school shopping trends.

As back to school prep is in full swing, people around the country support teachers in preparing for the new year!

What’s Next:
As the 2020 election approaches, Clarabridge will use its natural language processing (NLP) and understanding (NLU) engine to explore the voting experience in a five part series. I will lay out the voting options (such as voting by mail) and explore how journey mapping allows for an increased understanding of an experience.

Learn More:
View the Complete Social Pulse Series

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Nicole Martin is currently a consultant at Clarabridge. Prior to Clarabridge, Nicole received her Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from The George Washington University. During her time at GW, Nicole wrote her graduate paper on sexuality, sexual behavior, and mental health. In addition, Nicole taught as a Graduate Assistant for the Biostatistics Department at The George Washington University. During her time at Clarabridge, Nicole has worked with healthcare accounts to enrich their analytic capabilities, created customer journey maps for property and casualty insurance companies, and continued to support innovation for clients across various industry verticals.


Social Pulse series title image

Clarabridge has embarked on an independent research project to actively analyze the “emotional pulse” of social media users worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic. The effort’s main goal is to assess how people are feeling using Clarabridge’s Natural Language Understanding to glean insights from millions of unstructured data records. We hope to inform the public, provide insights to the scientific community and educate Clarabridge customers. The analyses in this series leverages Twitter data collected beginning March 12th using keywords such as “coronavirus,” “covid19”, and “covid-19” from Twitter. We continue to refine data collection and models as the situation evolves.

The Social Pulse Series Archive 
Clarabridge COVID-19 Command Center 

Questions about Coronavirus? Check out the following:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
World Health Organization (WHO)
Directory of Local Health Departments