Back to School Marketing: Statistics & Tips

Aug 30, 2019

257 Dasha M.

Back to School Marketing: Statistics & Tips

Back to school shopping causes pain in the parents’ wallets every year, putting thousands of dollars in the merchants’ pockets. In this article, you will get acquainted with the prime statistics figures and learn how to take advantage of this shopping frenzy.

Table of contents:

What is Back to School?
What do people buy for Back to School?
How much does an average family spend on Back-to-School shopping?
When is Back to School?
Where do people make Back to School purchases?
Top Back-to-School Marketing Examples 2019
Back to School Tips for your Ecommerce
What to do if you don’t sell Back-to-School products?

What is Back to School?

Back to school (B2S) is the time when children and their parents purchase all the school supplies, new clothes, bags, and anything else that a child might need before the school year begins [1]. In most of the countries, including the US, the countries of the EU, and Canada, B2S starts at the end of July and lasts till the end of August. For retailers, it is the time when they generate a big chunk of profit since in terms of spending B2S period goes second after Christmas.

Merchants from all over the world want to take a piece of this pie coming up with various ideas on how to promote and sell their products. Usually, all the school-related stuff goes on sale during this period of time.

What do people buy for Back to School?

In 2018 back-to-school period, parents and their children spent the most substantial amount of money on clothes and accessories for school – almost $15 billion. It is a common practice among private schools to cooperate with stores in selling uniform. However, public schools do not often suggest a specific type of uniform, and some do not even have a dress code. Therefore, many school students purchase and wear regular casual clothes.

School supplies ate up to $6.1 billion last year. The demand for this category is going to keep the same level this year. However, the merchants will enjoy a slightly higher profit at the cost of the increased number of school-age children. The population is growing, and in 2019, 2.6 million more people were enrolled in schools in the US, compared to 2018 [2].

After analyzing back to school shoppers’ planned spendings, we can say that there will occur a significant shift from computers and hardware purchases to portable electronic devices in 2019. Computers and hardware are going to take a back seat while mobile device sales gain in pace.

Last year statistics show that mobile phones turn into a prime electronic device used by the younger Millennials and Generation Z representatives. They use it not only for obvious communication purpose but also for studying and online shopping. In 2018, American families spent approximately $2.8 billion on portable electronic devices during back to school sales. By the beginning of September 2019, the sales are expected to hit $3.6 billion. At the same time, computer and hardware spending is going to decrease by $0.6 billion [3].

What devices do people buy for B2S BelVG

How much does an average family spend on Back-to-School shopping?

Many people are bound to acknowledge that purchasing back to school supplies causes pain in their wallets. The amount of money spent on school uniforms, bags, books, and gadgets is increasing with every year. In 2018, an average American family spent around $510 to purchase everything their child will need coming school year. Even though it is already quite a lot, they are going to spend more this year – up to $519 per school student.

Total spending for the 2019 back to school season is projected to hit $27.8 billion [4]. With the technology development and growing popularity of mobile devices for making purchases, the ecommerce share in back to school shopping is increasing.

Back to School Statistics BelVG

When is Back to School?

In 2018, the statistics indicate that online shoppers were especially active on August 3rd, 4th, 11th, 18th, and 25th. Surges were also detected during the first week of September. Long-lasting sales turned out to be profitable for the merchants at the expense of late shoppers.

At the beginning of the back to school shopping season in 2018, there was a great boom in sales on Amazon. On July 16th, they announced Amazon Prime Day 2018. It has become the most massive global sales day ever, even more significant than famous Black Friday 2017. Many people consider Amazon Prime Day the beginning of the back-to-school shopping period. For many, it is the first place to look for the items to purchase.

Most of the back to school shoppers make purchases from the middle of July till the beginning of August. Such customers usually create buying lists and carefully plan their shopping. It means that an impulse purchase chance is much lower, and they eventually spend less than others.

The smaller group prefers to avoid overcrowded stores and malls, and shop earlier than July. Usually, by that time, most of the back to school sales have not started yet, and these customers spend more. Buying school stuff in the last two weeks of August, as well as the first week of September, bring more profit to the stores as well [5].

When do people shop for B2S

Where do people make Back to School purchases?

Mass merchant stores are the top place to shop for clothes during B2S – more than 88% of people in 2019 are expected to shop there. Ecommerce share within this category is insufficient because most of the people prefer to have an opportunity to check on the clothes quality, size, and material in person. However, many of them do not mind purchasing online from the brands they are already familiar with.

Dollar stores remain a popular place for school supply shopping. Low prices tend to attract customers, especially in the time of B2S shopping. Researching the market for the best deals is highly popular among younger parents. Most of the Millennials with kids claim that they spend on back-to-school shopping much more than they would want to. Generation X and Baby Boomers are less likely to complain about the prices. They more often look for better quality items and ready to spend more to get it.

In modern back to school shopping, mobile devices are expected to be used more and more often. At the same time, growth projections of other technologies used to shop online are going to level off. Already in 2018, 53% of back to school online shoppers took advantage of mobile phone purchasing, and in 2019 their number is expected to grow by 7%. It does not happen simultaneously with the growth in the use of other devices. Mobile phone shopping is getting more popular at the expense of those who previously used laptops and desktops. The share of these devices in online shopping is going to decrease by 6% in 2019.

What people use for online B2S shopping BelVG

How do people choose a Back-to-School retailer?

Generally, the customers take into account multiple different factors while choosing the store for shopping, but during the B2S season, the most important consideration is price. The product itself and store convenience come after that. Brands and shopping experience are valued much less during B2S. 2019 is unlikely to become an exception.

In terms of ecommerce, the situation is slightly different, but the price remains a critical factor. Back to school sales and discounts gain the most attention, and many people find the free shipping option attractive. Looking for competitive prices, only 45% of shoppers are concerned about product quality.

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Top Back to School Marketing Examples 2019

    • Staples is an office and school supply retailer based in the US. Back to school season is the time when their products are in high demand, and every year, the company comes up with different promotion ideas. In back to school season, Staple slogan is “Back to school shopping at Staples. That was easy.” They do not forget to remind the parents how exhausting the overcrowded shopping malls can be, and make them think that the situation in their store will be different. The company has also announced the Staples teacher discount and decided to cooperate with them. They offer teachers an opportunity to create the list of necessary back to school supplies on their website and get 5% for every purchase made from this list. This deal is beneficial both for the parents who know what their child will need precisely and for the teachers who get a reward.

Staples Back-to-School BelVG

    • Target is one of the biggest American retailers. It is a popular place for family shopping, and many people choose it to make B2S purchases. The company is active on social media, Target back to school commercials get a lot of views on YouTube every year. Also, Target back to school marketing campaigns involve several techniques, and focus not only on the children and their parents but also on the teachers, offering them special discounts.

    • Marks & Spencer is a multinational retailer based in London, UK. During the B2S period, they usually focus primarily on school uniforms, bags, and shoes. Marks & Spencer’s back to school marketing campaigns draw a lot of attention almost every year. In 2019, they have decided to promote their uniform in association with wild animals. Roaring sales and their back to school campaign slogan “For The Wild Ones” are used to imply durability and style.

M&S back-to-school BelVG

  • Ikea is a Swedish corporation that specializes in designing and selling furniture and home accessories. This multinational does not let the time of high profits pass by, even though the products they sell are not directly school-related. They have decided to focus on another group – college students and announced back to college sales. Leaving their homes students start renting out their own apartments and look for inexpensive furniture.

Ikea Back-to-School BelVG

  • HP stands for Hewlett-Packard, and it is an information technology multinational based in California, US. Being aware of the modern B2S tendencies, HP offers multiple discounts on different product categories including tablets and computers. Many school-age children are interested in gaming, and this year the company offers an extra 10% off custom personal computers.

HP Back-to-School BelVG

  • Walmart is a multinational retail corporation headquartered in the US. It operates a big chain of hypermarkets and discounters. Walmart is much more popular among Millennials and older population groups than among Generation Z representatives, and they know about it. Instead of focusing on children, they see the clients in college students and their parents. To draw attention, Walmart team posts back-to-college checklists, blog articles, and useful tips for parents.

Back-to-School Tips for your Ecommerce

1. Pump up your social media. It is important to keep your Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter alive and updated. Pretty often social media users, especially Millennials as young parents, look there for the reviews and recommendations.

2. Involve teen influencers. Generally, they have a broad audience that trusts in their opinion and they can help you increase your brand awareness. You can hire an influencer to write a blog post or create a video about your product and share in their social media. While explaining to them what kind of advertisement you want, do not go too far, you must leave them some freedom. Then they will make sure that this advertisement fits well into their usual content and seems natural to their followers [6].

3. Publish relevant blog posts. Your customers will appreciate filling your website with helpful content. Back to school blog post ideas can differ, and they do not necessarily need to promote your product directly. If your targeted audience is parents, you can create a tip list on how to get the child ready for school, what should be in the lunch box to make sure the child’s meal is nutritious, or what bag shape is the healthiest. The content should match the interests of your targeted group.

4. Develop an email marketing strategy. Remember that the shoppers who make B2S purchases before August are likely to spend more, which means that you should start emailing earlier than the actual B2S sales begin. You can use different tactics offering discounts for early shoppers, coupons, or gifts after a certain amount is spent. Send back to school ads to your long-term customers. The good idea is to mention in your email when the deal is over. It will create urgency and motivate people to buy before the end of the sale.

5. Go mobile. As it was mentioned before, mobile devices are catching on, and many of your potential customers use it to check their emails, save coupons, check out the prices, or do so-called window-shopping. It means that it is highly likely that they will encounter your website using their mobile device, and it is essential to keep all your website pages mobile-friendly, including the content, and both deals and promotions.

6. Be careful with kits and bundles. Many parents claim that they want to buy school supply kits offered by a particular school or parent-teacher association. However, the number of people who actually make a purchase is decreasing every year. In 2018, 29% of parents brought back-to-school kits, but in 2019 this number is expected to reduce by 21%.

7. Remember about back-to-college. School children and their parents are not the only ones who shop a lot before autumn. There are also millions of students of different ages coming back to colleges and universities.

8. Keep in mind that B2S is a competition of the best deals. Since price and discounts are the prime focus during back-to-school shopping, it is crucial for you to suggest the best deal. The discount goes first, free shipping goes second.

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What to do if you don’t sell Back to School products?

Even if your primary audience is not parents or school students, it is still possible for you to take advantage of B2S high spending season. First of all, you can create a back-to-school marketing campaign, but consider retargeting from school to university and college students as their academic year also begins. For example, if your company is specialized in selling measuring devices, you can target engineering or architecture students.

You can also use the back to school season to encourage consumers to take up a new skill. Most of the school graduates still associate the beginning of September with the time for studying and learning something new. For example, if you sell sports equipment, you can run promotions to inspire people to do sports more often in the new academic year. Learn from a good example mentioned above – Ikea offering their furniture to the students who are planning to move out.

The beginning of a new academic year also means that staying-home parents will have more free time. Use it as an opportunity to offer them the way to spend their time profitably. They may be interested in taking up cooking classes or a new hobby, purchasing books or handcraft tutorials.

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Conclusion

Wrapping it up, we can say that the back to school season is as essential for merchants as Black Friday. With the right marketing strategy, it can generate enormous profits even if it seems that your product has nothing to do with back to school supplies.

Do not forget that the B2S time should start for you earlier than it begins for your customers. Put to proper use, email, and social media advertising are to become your main tools in drawing the clients’ attention long before they make up their back-to-school shopping lists.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Back_to_school_(marketing)
[2] https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372
[3]
https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/consumer-business/articles/back-to-school-survey.html?id=us:2el:3pr:b2s19:eng:retail:071019
[4] https://nrf.com/media-center/press-releases/record-spending-expected-school-and-college-supplies
[5] https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/07/13/if/472241001/
[6] https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2019/08/08/how-is-influencer-marketing-changing/#470148654cec

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