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3 Back-to-school Trends Marketers Should Watch for in 2017

back to school trendsFall is almost here, and along with cooler temperatures, it means kids have been heading back to school. While parents may have mixed feelings about their kids returning to school — or perhaps going for the first time — there's one thing that they all share in common: the hassle of back-to-school shopping.

Though there's nothing that can take away the stress of fighting for the right color notebook or a pack of crayons, there are back-to-school trends marketers should take advantage of to make this annual ritual a little bit easier for parents and increase their own sales.

It's the (Second)-most Wonderful Time of the Year

According to eMarketer Retail, back-to-school shopping is the second-biggest shopping season of the year. Despite the feeling that winter holiday shopping seems endless, back-to-school shopping is actually the longest shopping period of the year, spanning from mid-July to mid-October.

With that in mind, marketers could benefit from some aggressive, but strategic, marketing during this time to help boost sales to a market that's already poised to buy. Running ad campaigns specifically targeting parents of school-age and college-bound kids highlighting back-to-school promotions is a great way to take advantage of this lengthy season and the elevated purchase intent during this time. Consider centering your ad message around how your products or services can ease the stress of back-to-school.

What Customers are Spending On

According to Rakuten, citing an eMarketer report, there are notable trends regarding customer spending as school approaches. Electronics and tech took the lion's share of spending last year. Shoppers budgeted slightly more than $500 for technology and electronics; $170 was dedicated to mobile-specific devices. Coming in second was new clothing where shoppers spent nearly $300. Perhaps surprisingly, traditional school supplies were much lower in the budget, averaging $138.

With these trends in mind, it's important for marketers to understand the current mindset of the customer and focus their efforts on the products and services that will solve for back-to-school needs.

When to Shop

There are some key timeframes within the larger back-to-school shopping period that marketers should know about when looking to boost specific businesses. Rakuten noted that shopping at department-style stores reached a peak during July, which meant many shoppers got a jump on their annual shopping. As the season progresses, specialty stores, including booksellers and office supply stores, should get a big bump in August, as students get settled and know their class supply needs.

Though back-to-school shopping can feel like a chore for many, this shopping period is actually one of the best times for marketers to get aggressive and take advantage of the lengthy season. After all, the winter holidays are just around the corner!

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