Backpack with school supplies related to back-to-school 2019 around itFamilies are packing up their beach bags, ice cream trucks are parking their business for the foreseeable future, and shopping mall stores are seeing lines out the door. It’s official: the back-to-school 2019 season is here in full swing. And it’s not all hype – back-to-school is one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, surpassing Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Valentine’s Day combined.

Why is that? Back-to-school is a longer-than-usual holiday season, meaning consumers have more opportunities for purchasing than they’ve had since the winter shopping season. Starting in April and finishing up in September, the back-to-school shopping season represents opportunities to your brand that are not to be underestimated.

Brands in virtually any sector should pay attention to back-to-school shoppers, who will be scouring for deals in industries ranging from clothing and shoes to electronics and cleaning supplies.

That, combined with the wide timeframe in which consumers shop, makes the back-to-school 2019 shopping season a crucial time of year for any brand.

Diving Into Data

In school, we were all taught to back up our claims with actual data, right? So, let’s dig into some of the most staggering stats around the back-to-school shopping season.

For starters, I just told you that the back-to-school shopping spans from April to September – a total of six months out of the year.

Of course, the volume of shopping varies from month to month. July and August are the most popular months for back-to-school shopping, with most of it occurring in the months before August.

Here’s a total breakdown of the month-to-month shopping habits:

  • Notebook with school supplies related to back-to-school 2019 around itApril: 5% of shopping
  • May: 7% of shopping
  • June: 12% of shopping
  • July: 33% of shopping
  • August: 40% of shopping
  • September: 3% of shopping

That’s an average spend-per-shopper of $1,451 before August and $1,074 in August or later. But what about total spending?

In 2018, a total of $83 billion was spent on back-to-school shopping, with $55B of that going toward back-to-college and $28B going toward K-12 shopping.

The items consumers are shopping for during this period also vary by month, and different categories are more popular than others. And with shoppers making an average of 16 trips to stores to stock up on supplies between July and September, it’s important to market the right items at the right time.

For example, July is the most popular month for consumers to purchase school supplies, while August is by far most popular month for food and snacks. And while May and September are both low-purchase months, consumers are more likely to buy clothing + supplies in May and food + snacks in September. (More data on peak shopping times per product can be found in this infographic.)

So, what influences a consumer’s choice to buy one product over another? Children play a huge role in purchase decisions. In fact, 82% of parents say they plan to collaborate with their children during back-to-school shopping.

Another huge factor? Discounts. Similar to what we see in the holiday season, free shipping is shoppers’ favorite kind of discount during the back-to-school shopping season. Sales/discounts and competitive pricing also drive sales.

Here’s some additional miscellaneous back-to-school stats:

  • Men spend an average of $115 more on back-to-school than women
  • 54% of back-to-school shopping occurs online, and of that, 56% is for college and 49% is for K-12
  • 53% ($15.1B) of 2018’s back-to-school shopping spend was on clothing and accessories
  • Teenagers will spend an average of $36.71 of their own money on back-to-school shopping (up $6 from 10 years ago)
  • K-12 families plan to spend the most on clothing and accessories, while college families plan to spend the most on electronics
  • The electronic gadgets category is expected to grow by $800M this year, +29% over 2018
  • The earlier consumers start shopping, the more they’re expected to spend

Back-to-School 2019 Marketing Tips

Books for back-to-school 2019 stacked on top of each otherNow you know about the trends impacting the back-to-school 2019 shopping season. But how can you implement your new knowledge? Let’s take a look at some tips to keep in mind as you navigate back-to-school.

Aside from the technical stuff, your creative copy will play a huge role in winning back-to-school shoppers. However, this can also be a big bottleneck.

With so many types of consumers shopping throughout such a wide range of time, how can you be sure you’re targeting the right audiences in the best way?

Keep in mind that a lot of families will go to shopping malls together, so use multiple creatives with copy variations based on age and gender to appeal to a wide range of consumers. This means you should be testing, testing, testing to see what resonates the most with different types of shoppers.

Testing your creative earlier in the shopping season will allow you to more heavily focus your efforts during the peak of the holiday season. The back-to-school shopping season is a long one – offer your best deals during one or two weekends during the end of July and/or beginning of August to make the most of it.

Fast-growing brands are intentional about their creative approach. They create 11x more assets to test to optimize their creatives, ultimately resulting in a 23% lower cost per buyer. Test your creative with different audiences to see what resonates with whom the most. 

And, of course, make sure you’re proactive in planning your ad campaigns to account for troubleshooting, QA, and Facebook ad approval wait times.

Looking for more tips to optimize your digital marketing for back-to-school 2019 and beyond? We have plenty of resources for you! Check them out below: