New York, NY, 03.09.2020

US parents are investing heavily in Internet services, electronics to prepare their children for remote learning – GfK

With many US schools opting for remote learning this fall, parents have unleashed a boom in spending to help prepare their children. Just-released research from GfK shows that families have already invested in everything from smartphones to snacks – and that they intend to spend even more.

The new GfK Consumer Pulse research – conducted from August 19th to 24th, 2020 – shows that 51% of parents report that their children (ages 3 to 18) will be learning online-only this fall, and another 31% say their kids will have a mix of in-person and online classes.

Among these parents of remote-learning children, 60% say they have already signed up for new Internet services (such as broadband or hotspots) to prepare for the school year. (See Table 1.) In addition, 51% report purchasing new electronics (e.g., smartphones), 48% have bought computers (desktops, laptops, or tablets), and 39% have acquired new workspace furniture.

These families are also stocking up on more traditional school-related items – 51% have bought lunches and snacks, and 49% have purchase notebooks, pencils, and other supplies.

Table 1. Spending for remote-learning students
Among parents whose children (ages 3 to 18) will be taking remote
classes all or part of the time this Fall


Already purchased

Intend to purchase


Electronics (e.g. smart phones, calculators)




School supplies (e.g. backpacks, notebooks, lunchboxes, pens/pencils)








Internet/streaming services (e.g. broadband, hotspots)




Computing (e.g. desktops, laptops, tablets)




Workspace furniture (e.g. desks, chairs)




The buying continues …

In addition to the money they have already spent, parents with remote-learning children have plans to buy even more items in these same categories – with 29% saying they intend to purchase school supplies and food items; 22%, furniture, and 15%, Internet and streaming services.

All in all, 75% of parents with remote-learning children have already upgraded their Internet services or plan to do so. Two-thirds (65%) have bought or plan to buy computing equipment; and 61% have gotten or will get new furniture.

“Last spring, many families scrambled to accommodate remote learning and work from home within their existing infrastructure, creating makeshift learning spaces and putting a lot of stress on internet bandwidth,” said Stacy Bereck, Managing Director of Consumer Insights and Sales Effectiveness at GfK North America. “With more time to plan for the fall, parents are making investments in the products and services that they believe will best prepare their kids for the new normal of remote or hybrid learning.”

GfK’s Consumer Pulse research covers 30 countries, allowing brands and marketers to #MasterTheCrisis by understanding consumer attitudes, behavior, purchase intent, media consumption, and more – both now and in the future. The research reveals changes in demand for goods and services, as well as which sectors and channels present risks or opportunities, so that companies can respond with confidence and come out of the crisis stronger, better positioned, and closer to consumers than before.

As part of this research, GfK interviewed a representative sample of 1,004 US consumers (ages 16 to 65) during August 19th through 24th, 2020.     



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