Back-to-School Marketing in 2021

by | Aug 10, 2021

back to school

Back-to-school shopping has been a little different in recent years. Last year, the back-to-school season was in the midst of COVID lockdowns and kids were preparing to do full-time online learning. This year, many students are gearing up for some normalcy as they head back to in-person classes. This means that brands have to ensure that they’re reconnecting with back-to-school shoppers by keeping up with the new trends. 


Back-to-School Trends for 2021

The back-to-school routine has changed from what it used to be, so how are brands connecting with consumers this year? Traditional ads aren’t doing the trick. Many brands are turning to influencers to advertise products to parents and kids. Younger generations are heavily influenced by online creators who have a sense of credibility with their large followings. Influencers can fall within their own niches whether that’s finding the most affordable supplies, encouraging online shopping and contactless delivery options, advertising their favorite hand sanitizers and masks, or sharing the latest clothing and accessory trends. 

With that being said, many parents and students are “swiping up” and “clicking to buy” right then and there. They’ve opted to do their back-to-school shopping online rather than in-store. No surprise there as online sales increased by more than 30% in 2020. E-commerce experts believe that the surge of online shopping is here to stay. 

Following online retail stores, consumers are most likely to head to department and discount stores. Those who are shopping in-store may have a hard time finding what they need. Some stores are struggling to keep high-demand products like backpacks, shoes, and stationery items on the shelves. 


Predictions for Back-to-School Spending

The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts that consumers will be spending record amounts for school and college supplies. According to NRF, families with elementary and high school-age kids spend an average of $848.90 on school items. College students and families roughly spend $1,200 on college items on average. While it sounds like a lot of dough, many parents are needing to buy their kids all new supplies, electronics, and wardrobes as they’ve outgrown most everything from their last “normal shopping spree in 2019. 

Here’s the breakdown of the top spending categories:

  • Elementary and High School Students
    • • Electronics: $295.65
    • • Clothing: $253.46
    • • Shoes: $165.04
  • College Students
    • • Electronics: $304.41
    • • Dorm/Apartment Furnishings: $164.38
    • • Clothing: $158.98


By the time you’re reading this, the back-to-school shopping season will have been well underway. More than half of shoppers begin their back-to-school shopping at the beginning of July. A large portion of those consumers took part in recent sales like Amazon Prime Day, Target Deal Days, and Walmart’s Deals for Days. However, the other half will likely wait until August. Many of them said that they’re waiting for school supply lists and for more deals on school items. 


Closing Thoughts

While back-to-school advertising might not be as traditional as brands are used to, they can at least get back into the game. Don’t miss the mark by using old ways, turn to online retail and influencers to advertise your products. It’s all about delivering your message to the right people at the right time. Good luck to parents and students as they embark on the 2021-2022 school year!

Ready to get your marketing back into the swing of things? Contact Transformation Marketing in Lincoln, NE at 402-788-2896. We’re experts in web development and design, social media marketing, search engine optimization, blog writing, programmatic advertising, and much, much more! 

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