Back-to-school marketing

A complete guide for advertisers

Here’s how maximizing seasonal events, such as back-to-school, through creative solutions can increase engagement and brand awareness.

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When is the back-to-school period?

The back-to-school period begins in August and continues through September. This season plays a major role in the advertising calendar, as it’s the second largest shopping season of the year.1 Learn more about how to raise the bar with your next marketing strategy aimed toward school shoppers by making sure your brands are on their back-to-school checklists.

When do back-to-school promotions start?

Back-to-school shoppers are getting a head start: About 56% of U.S. households report that they start their back-to-school shopping by July, according to a National Retail Federation survey.2 Brands should take note of this trend and capitalize on it by starting their marketing campaigns this summer. Doing so will provide them with a competitive edge and improve their chances of reaching their desired audience.

Why is it important to run campaigns during the back-to-school season?

It's important to run campaigns during the back-to-school season because it presents a prime opportunity to connect with consumers. With the increase in shopping during this time, strategically showcasing your products and brand messaging can help make an impact on engaging this audience around this surge. With consumers being connected across devices it provides a chance to grab their attention at the optimal time.

According to the Harris Amazon Ads Growth Study, parents in the grocery category are connected across various media and device types, and therefore highly engage with media and are receptive to advertising, especially during back-to-school season. In fact, 48% of grocery-shopping parents own at least one type of Amazon device, making them the ideal audience for brands to advertise to an potentially drive sales during the back-to-school season.3

Back-to-school marketing trends

To make the most of the back-to-school season, brands need to understand the audience and their interests during this time period. Shoppers are on the hunt for products that will help students tackle the upcoming school year with confidence, and they’re not afraid to prioritize needs over cost. In fact, combined global consumer spending on items for back-to-school and back-to-college is projected to increase in 2023 while growing nearly 9% annually over the next decade, highlighting how back-to-school is a powerful driver of global consumer spending.5

1. Demand for back-to-school items increases

This season presents a unique opportunity for brands to engage with customers during their shopping journey. In fact, shoppers are spending more and more each year on back-to-school items. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2022 report, the total back-to-school spend across clothing, shoes, accessories, school supplies, electronics, and computer-related items reached $36.9 billion. Customers can be more willing to try new brands and make new purchases to fulfill their needs.

2. Parents prioritize healthy choices

When it comes to grocery shopping, health is top of mind for parents when making snack purchases, with 41% of parents reporting in an MRI-Simmons survey that they are prioritizing healthier options, and 55% checking ingredients and nutrition panels before buying.6 These shoppers want to ensure they’re providing more than school supplies for their household. Not only are parents on the lookout for nutrition-dense products, 52% look for online deals, while 74% buy items on sale.7 This provides an opportunity to build brand trust with your audience by highlighting relevant messaging; for example, via Streaming TV ads or audio ads that speak to the nutritional quality of your products.

3. Shoppers are online

In the digital age, online channels have become one of the go-to destinations for shoppers. According to a 2022 PowerReviews survey, 71% of respondents report buying groceries online. And when it comes back-to-school shopping specifically, 50% of shoppers surveyed by the National Retail Federation planned to buy their items online.8

This presents an opportunity for brands to get in on the action by implementing omnichannel marketing strategies that reach shoppers where they are: online. By leveraging the right channels, brands can create a seamless shopping experience across all touchpoints to effectively engage with their target audience and help increase sales during this season.

Back-to-school marketing tips and ideas

Appeal to your audience

1. Appeal to your audience

The rise of connected homes is opening up exciting new opportunities for brands to reach shoppers like never before. Shoppers are often open to ads when they are relevant to their interests, the content they are watching, or their purchase history.9 These key factors can all be activated with audience segmenting capabilities from Amazon Ads.

Back-to-school shoppers are purchasing more and more over time, choosing products such as snacks, beverages, accessories, and more.10 Consider using our Streaming TV solutions through Fire TV to help reach these shoppers via the content they love, with a non-disruptive ad experience they will welcome and trust.

Tactful strategies

2. Implement more tactful strategies

When it comes to back-to-school shopping, shoppers tend to approach it with a discovery mindset. With shoppers starting their back-to-school planning early, they look to the Amazon store to purchase their grocery needs for the student in their life. We found positive brand growth and 6.1x sales when snack brands implemented multi-objective strategies during the back-to-school season. Confectionery brands including chocolate and non-chocolate candy saw 3% new-to-brand (NTB) customer growth and a 4.1% increase in repeat customer growth.11

Multi-objective strategies to consider this season to help inspire purchases among shoppers include sales, NTB, and repeat customer growth. These solutions are not only better together, but with our unique measurement tools like Amazon Marketing Cloud, you can better measure and optimize success.

Product visibility

3. Further increase product visibility

According to a Kantar survey on customers of school and office supplies, 35% of shoppers had a predetermined brand in mind when starting their purchase journey.12 This indicates that these shoppers are open to trying brands, which provides a pivotal moment for brands to introduce their products to those who are less loyal to any specific product or brand. To help further increase product visibility to relevant shoppers in the early stages of back-to-school shopping, brands can utilize various awareness solutions such as Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands video ads, or Sponsored Display.

Back-to-school marketing campaign example

Here is an example of brand that found success with Amazon during the back-to-school season.

Case Studies

Logitech implemented a successful back-to-school marketing strategy to target adult Gen Z students in Brazil. Previously, their focus was on lower-funnel marketing, but they partnered with Amazon Ads to develop a mid- and upper-funnel approach. Logitech created an event page called “Off to College,” and leveraged Amazon DSP media to reach audiences interested in technology, gaming, and electronics.

They emphasized the wireless functionality of their products and how it simplifies the daily routine of students. Logitech’s messaging resonated with students, offering them the freedom from wires, stylish designs, silent products for better focus, and the convenience of webcam and headset combos. By aligning their brand and product features with student needs, Logitech successfully connected with their target audience and generated increased product awareness during the back-to-school season. The Off to College event page saw 1% click-through rate (CTR) from January to March 2022.13 The Amazon DSP media campaign had 23.6 million impressions, a reach of 3.5 million, and a CTR of 0.40%.14

Girl on computer

1 National Retail Federation Back-to-School Survey, 2023
2 National Retail Federation Back-to-School Survey, n=7380, US, July 2022
3 Harris Amazon Ads Growth Study, n=893, US, Dec 2022
4 Allied Market research back-to-school and back-to-college market reports, Nov 2021
5 1) MRI-Simmons Winter Survey, n=20,425, Jan 2023, US 2) Numerator Back-to-School Consumer Survey, n=2000, Jul 2022, US
6 MRI-Simmons Winter Survey, n=20,425, US, Jan 2023; 2) Numerator Back-to-School Consumer Survey, n=2000, US, July 2022
7 PowerReviews Meeting Grocery and CPG Shopper Digital Expectations in the Post-pandemic Era Study, N=11,162, US, Feb 2022; 2) National Retail Federation Back-to-School
8 Spending Survey, n=7,380, US, July 2022
9-10 Connected Consumers study, US, Nov 2021
11 Amazon internal data, US, May–Sept 2022
12 Amazon Ads and Kantar, Office & School Supplies P2P study, US, April 2022
13-14 Advertiser-provided data, BR, 2022