Optimizing Back To School Marketing Campaigns To Reach Shoppers In 2017

Back-to-school shopping is quickly approaching, so we’re here to help you get in front of the game and recognize opportunities and targets that will help you stand out this year. Back-to-school shopping reached $75.8 in 2016, and is anticipated to see growth this year. 2017 is expected to be a “stock up” year for consumers, as they repurchase items that don’t require replacement every year, including backpacks, technology, and even furniture.

Understand The Back-To-School Market

As we dive into back-to-school retail, Mintel’s Back-to-School Shopping 2017 report identifies two prominent target audiences that marketers need to focus on this upcoming school year: parents and college students. Ninety percent of parents participate in back-to-school shopping, as they are the primary shopper for younger children still in elementary and middle school. Eighty-nine percent of college students are shopping for back-to-school items. Spending is significantly higher for college than for K-12, due to the fact that college students are often not just shopping for books and basic supplies, but also dorm room or apartment furniture and furnishings. While we mainly think of parents as back-to-school shoppers, this fact drives the importance of targeting to college students as well.

How Are People Shopping?

All devices are being exercised in the back-to-school shopping search, so a cross-platform strategy is necessary. At home, parents are browsing their desktops and iPads with their children, looking for items fitting their quality and price standards. They are turning to their mobile devices when they are in store, price-checking items to make sure they’re getting the best deals. Shoppers aren’t relying solely on brick-and-mortar stores anymore. Amazon.com has become a major player, changing the back-to-school market. Thirty-five percent of parents and 66% of college students are making purchases on Amazon.com. Digital technology is not only changing the way students are learning, it’s also shifting the back-to-school market. Technology is the major overarching trend transforming how parents, kids, and college students learn about new products, interact with brands, select products, and make purchases.

Back to School Advertising that Fits Shopper Needs

Back-to-school can be a very expensive time for a parent or college student. Not only are they making sure they purchase all the necessary books and basic supplies for the upcoming school year, many students look to update their wardrobes during this time as well.

Shoppers do experience some pain points that they wish retailers would change to improve their back-to-school shopping experience. The biggest thing shoppers of all ages are looking for: free shipping. Free shipping reflects both the growing popularity of online shopping and the desire for it to become even more affordable. With how expensive the back-to-school season can get for a parent or college student, shoppers are making sure they get the most bang for their buck. Other improvements shoppers are looking for are a faster checkout process, both online and in-stores, and smoother, no hassle return policies. These improvements will help shoppers stay loyal customers to your brand.

What Influences Back-To-School Shoppers in 2017?

Brand familiarity, coupons, and school recommendations top the list of back-to-school shopping influencers, for both parents and college-aged students, especially online reviews and social media. Over a quarter of parents purchased an item after seeing a celebrity’s child wearing it. Both advertisers and consumers agree that influencer marketing is impactful, because it is informative, with over 50% of consumers purchasing a product after seeing an influencer’s post. This has proven especially true when advertising to millennials through social media.

How MNI Can Help Your Back To School Marketing Campaigns

Our media experts are the best in the business. They are your guides every step of the way—planning, buying, and implementing your targeted campaign, scaled to market. We can help you pinpoint college students and parents who will be back-to-school shopping this fall, making sure your campaign resonates with the right audience. Reach out to experts today to get ready for Fall 2017!


Mintel, Back to School Shopping, January 2017.