How to tap into Back to School shopping trends in 2021

September 13, 2021

The months leading up to a new school year are an important time for families and brands alike. During late summer months, many customers are doing their annual Back to School shopping, which presents a great opportunity for brands to connect with audiences. Here are a few of the most notable Back to School shopping and marketing trends in 2021, according to recent data from Amazon Ads and Kantar.

Top shopping habits during Back to School season

Parents enter a period of reevaluation

The Back to School shopping period is a time when many shoppers reconsider both what they buy and why they are deciding to do so. A new academic year offers parents and children a fresh start before the months of school ahead. The Back to School period prompts parents to take a moment to reset, with 71% of parents saying they reevaluate their children’s schedules, and 59% saying they reevaluate the brands they buy.1 Brands that successfully engage shoppers during this timeframe can help inform customers and help boost both sales and visibility.

Busy schedules shape consumer habits

Back to School can be a hectic time for parents. In addition to their “day jobs,” parents spend 52 hours per week on child care, education, and housework during the school year.2 Gearing up for the busy months of school ahead, shopping habits change considerably, which is reflected in a 28% increase in new category shoppers to youth apparel in Amazon’s store during the Back to School period as compared to the previous month.3 Additionally, 70% of shoppers say they have not yet decided on a brand at the start of their journeys.4

Customers prioritize needs over cost

Just as customers are more willing to try new brands and make new shopping purchases, they’re also willing to find the brands that fulfill their needs. Customers spent 26% more on Back to School shopping in 2020 as compared to the same time frame in 2019, and roughly $102 billion on Back to School shopping in 2020.5 There’s potential here for brands to meet customers during their Back to School shopping journeys by analyzing and offering what they’re looking for in this timeframe.

There is high interest in online shopping and brand loyalty

The events of the past year brought more screen time in all avenues of life—and shopping is no exception, with a Kantar study showing that 70% of Back to School shoppers surveyed plan to do Back to School shopping online in 2021.6 Parents feel that online shopping is convenient for them, with 4 in 10 shoppers citing this as the top reason they shop online.7 Brands that recognize this shift in Back to School shopping trends can benefit from translating their marketing efforts into the digital realm.

Reaching shoppers during Back to School can also help drive repeat purchases, with 19% of Amazon customers choosing to repeat purchases from brands they’ve purchased in previous Back to School seasons.8 Connecting with shoppers during this season can potentially yield further results for your brand further down the road, because there is an opportunity to reengage shoppers, stay top of mind, and ultimately build brand loyalty.

The bottom line on Back to School season

Back to School season creates meaningful opportunities for relevant brands to engage with relevant audiences. Since shoppers are making more purchases from new brands while returning to school, late summer is an ideal time to engage with customers and boost brand visibility, especially within the digital space. 47% of Back to School shoppers surveyed by Kantar said they are likely/highly likely to consider Amazon as a preferred Back to School shopping destination.9

How to showcase your brand with Amazon Ads

Learn more about how to drive awareness and consideration of your brand with Amazon Ads’ brand solutions, like sponsored ads, display ads wherever they spend time, video ads, and audio ads. Whether you’re looking to reach customers already browsing in your category or to increase deal and brand visibility with Back to School shoppers, our advertising products can help you elevate your brand in the right places while providing key metrics such as video completion rates, branded searches, and more to help you plan and optimize against your goals. Reach out to your account executive or visit our site today to get started.

1 Kantar and Amazon Advertising, kids fashion survey, May 2021
2 BCG, working parents in the US, July 2020
3 Amazon Internal, 2-year blended distribution, 2018-2019, July/August average vs. June
4 Kantar and Amazon Advertising, fashion audience study, 2020
5 Statista 2020. “Total combined planned back-to-school and back-to-college expenditure in the United States for 2020”
6 Kantar Quickfire survey US. 500 participants who were 2019 or 2020 back-to-school shoppers and plan to do back-to-school shopping in 2021: Participants were asked “How much of your back-to-school shopping will be done online this year?” The results presented are those that planned to do some level of back-to-school spending online in 2021
7 Kantar and Amazon Advertising, fashion audience study, 2020
8 Amazon Internal, 2020
9 Kantar Quickfire survey US. 500 participants who were 2019 or 2020 back-to-school shoppers and plan to do back-to-school shopping in 2021: Participants were asked: “How much of your back-to-school budget will be spent on Amazon this year?”