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New Consumer Trends Will Influence Back-To-School Shopping This Year

June 7, 2021 Sarah Cavill

After a complicated year, the roll out of vaccines means that school will likely be back in session full time this coming fall. New consumer trends may offer clues as to what can be expected from back-to-school campaigns launching in the coming weeks. 

Social Media Platforms Are Likely To Play A Big Role in Back-To-School Shopping

Snapchat, one of the leading social media platforms for younger consumers, recently shared data insights on how kids headed back to school plan to shop in the coming months. Snapchat surveyed Snapchat users, between March 28 and April 6, and found that new clothes and a new sports season generated the most excitement. According to the Snapchat survey results, more than half of users plan to buy new clothes in the coming months, and “shoes, sports apparel and [sports] equipment are at the top of their shopping lists.” Snapchat also found that 86% of Snapchat users are on the platform when back-to-school shopping, and 59% of surveyed Snapchat users plan to use Snapchat for fall sports shopping.

Shopping directly from social media platforms is becoming increasingly popular, particularly as ecommerce sticks around as a preferred method of shopping. But, it isn’t just shopping directly from the platform that makes social media platforms so appealing during back-to-school shopping. Snapchat offers a checklist that brands should review when planning their back-to-school social campaigns, including offering ways for users to share excitement about being back in school and communicate their purchases and recommendations to Snapchat friends and followers. Shopping from social media is as much about creating engagement and brand building as it is about driving conversions. 

The Rise Of Ecommerce Combined With The Return To In-Person Shopping Means Multichannel Retail Solutions From Brands 

Although it’s clear consumers are excited to get out and about again, including shopping in person, the rise of ecommerce during the pandemic is going to play a major factor in back-to-school shopping this summer. “When it comes to shopping, it’s apparent now that the consumer does not recognize any lines of demarcation at all [between in-person and online],” said Matt Powell, senior sports industry advisor for NPD, an American market research company. “Shopping is all one thing to them now, no matter where it happens. The faster retailers can recognize and accept that premise, the better – and more profitable – they will become.”

Among the categories expected to do well is fashion, as many kids want to go back to school in style after more than a year of sweats and pajamas. Shoes, in particular, are likely to make a big splash, with insiders predicting that retailer Foot Locker will leverage its “seamless omni-channel ecosystem” to reach excited consumers. 

Big Retailers Predicted To Have Very Successful Back-To-School Shopping Season

Although the back-to-school season may not fully ramp up until August this year, major retailers are expecting, and planning for, very successful shopping seasons. Big box stores like Walmart and Target, who have refined their online ordering and delivering and are seeing significant upticks in foot traffic, are on the radar of analysts who predict a big back-to-school season for retailers. Chuck Grom, an analyst for Gordon Haskett Research Advisors, predicts “The back-to-school period is going to be wildly successful,” for Walmart and Target in particular. “You are essentially going to have two years’ worth of college kids going back to college for the first time.” Target is planning for “one of its biggest back-to-school seasons ever,” and smaller retailers like Gap are already feeling “customer exuberance” that is likely to bode well for back-to-school sales. 

Most brands will begin rolling out campaigns for their back-to-school shopping in the coming weeks, with strategies likely to include social media activations, cross-promotional advertising that promotes both online and in-store shopping opportunities, and targeted strategies that appeal to consumers who want to embrace the excitement of going back to school. Whether it’s college kids stocking up for their dorm rooms or younger kids shopping for new kicks, advertisers that leverage the dominant buying and consumer trends of the last year are likely to engage and convert eager shoppers. 

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Senior Marketing Communications Writer, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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