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Back to School: Make the Grade in Your Brand's Marketing

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

It's not just backpacks and paper; any CPG brand can tap into back-to-school spending.

school supplies on teal background

It's almost time for the kids to head BTS (back to school)! *Hold for applause*

Beyond being the "most wonderful time of the year" for parents (remember that commercial?), it presents an incredible opportunity for a pre-holiday revenue bump for brands. In 2022, BTS shoppers shelled out $34.4 billion...more than pre-pandemic numbers!

But how do you craft a marketing strategy that converts?

Historically, most BTS shopping has taken place in brick-and-mortar stores. But in 2023, online shopping reigns supreme, so an omnichannel approach is imperative.

Here are a few tips for leveraging digital tactics to give your BTS marketing an A+:

1. Tailor Your Message to Parents

2. Look Beyond Discounts

3. Don't Forget About the Kids

4. Leverage Data & Retail Sites

5. Start Early and Keep Going


Tailor Your Message to Parents' Needs

Put yourself in the shoes of your audience. Consider parents' challenges and concerns when sending their kids back to school. Tailor your message to meet their needs and create engaging content that builds excitement for the upcoming school year.

After all, kids aren't the only ones with new schedules in the fall! Parents and caregivers adjust their weekday routines, too, so your messaging should reflect this. New solutions to save time or energy will surely be appreciated.

For food and beverage brands, parents need on-the-go convenience for chaotic breakfasts, packable lunches, dinner between practices, and snacks. Brands that offer prepared or pre-cooked meals, ingredients that speed up or simplify the feeding process can capitalize on parents' needs through their messaging.

Back to School Values > Discounts

Though everyone is trying to save money amid inflation, offering discounts alone won't set your brand apart. The strong sales reports coming out of this year's Prime Day indicate that people are willing to spend right now!

Instead, focus on a specific value that's important to your ideal buyers. For example, clothing brands could highlight their commitment to sustainable fashion or ethically-sourced materials. Or a food brand could boast "allergy-free" or "nontoxic", something important for most children. Highlight something unique that your competitors don't have.

colorful-pens-and-stationaries-on-blue-and yellow surface

Don't Forget About the Kids!

Over half of millennial parents say their kids influence their back-to-school purchases (relatable content right there). While much of your content should center on explaining to parents why your product should be their go-to, don't forget about co-viewing media opportunities like Connected TV and YouTube, so the kids know it, too. A mix of channels that speak to both parents and children will go a long way toward your success.

Leverage Data & Retail Media

CPG brands should focus their marketing budgets on retail media networks like Amazon, Walmart, and Target with sponsored search marketing. Adding back-to-school-related keywords to your search mix can boost visibility and drive sales.

For example, a granola bar company could add long-tail keywords like "granola bars for school lunches", or "healthy after-school snacks" to their current bidding strategy.

Start Early and Keep Going

The back-to-school is a quick flash in the pan. Many consumers decide on purchases weeks before school actually starts, so don't wait too long to launch your campaigns.

But don't cut it short, either! Different states start school in different months. And some families wait to get teacher supply lists or class schedules to buy supplies, so last-minute deals are a key component of the season. Stay active through September!

Let us know in the comments how your brand or agency aces back-to-school season.

This article originally appeared in our weekly Paid Media Insights newsletter. For the most up-to-date news and tips to improve your media strategy, subscribe for free here.


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