Online Content, Retailer Websites Influence Back-​to-​School Purchases

BY Rachel Cagle
Featured image for “Online Content, Retailer Websites Influence Back-​to-​School Purchases”

Yes, it feels like summer vacation just started (because it did). But for advertisers, the break feels even shorter than it does for students and their parents. They should already by busy coming up with online content for their clients’ back-​to-​school promotions. Parents are going to start shopping earlier than ever this year and will rely on internet searches to help them find the best products and deals. Here’s what you need to know.

Online Content, Retailer Websites Influence Back-​to-​School Purchases

When the Back-​to-​School Season Really Starts

According to research from dentsu, 33% of parents have already started their back-​to-​school shopping. The end of May marks the starting point for these early birds. Another 12% plan to start their shopping in June. 20% will start shopping in July and 25% will wait until August. Only 10% plan on waiting until September to start shopping. So, the sooner your client can get their online content up and running for them to find, the better.

Driven by Deals

What drives back-​to-​school shoppers? Like most consumers, it’s deals. 85% of these shoppers say that discounts, promotions and sales are even more important to them this year than last year. So, it’s no wonder that 82% say they’re going to plan their shopping around sales or promotional events. And 83% of shoppers prefer to purchase all their back-​to-​school items from one store. You know what that means. If your client can get their online content promoting sales up and visible before their competitors, back-​to-​school shoppers may start and complete their shopping from your client before the competition even gets their ads posted.

Which Ads to Use

Dentsu says that 97% of back-​to-​school shoppers do research before starting their shopping. They conduct this research online (50%), in-​store (18%) and both online and in-​store (29%). So, it’s safe to say that your client should focus on online content to reach these shoppers.

The online resources these shoppers rely on include:

  • Online Marketplaces: 72%
  • Retailer Websites: 70%
  • Social Media: 63%
  • Online Video: 56%
  • Brand Websites: 44%
  • Online News or Magazines: 37%
  • Blogs or Vlogs: 27%

What types of online ads are your client’s target audience the most likely to take action because of? Check out their profile on AudienceSCAN on AdMall by SalesFuel to find out. You can also look up the Back-​to-​School Shoppers profile for more generalized information.


Getting to most of online ads/​resources starts with an online search. According to MediaPost, marketers plan to spend $110 billion on paid search advertising and $29.69 billion on retail media search in 2023. How much is your client planning on dedicating to search this back-​to-​school shopping season? If they don’t prioritize keyword research and other important aspects of search marketing, they’ll fall behind, plain and simple. Search needs to be a priority for them if they want their online content to be found and acted on.

What to Focus On/​Promote

According to dentsu, 92% of back-​to-​school shoppers agree that buying the right school items is critical to the success of their children. And they’ll spare no expense to ensure that success. The majority of back-​to-​school shoppers plan on spending between $300 and $500 per child this year. 

Back-​to-​school shoppers also want the students they’re buying for to be actively involved in the process. 94% say that the child(ren) have a lot of influence on the shopping and 92% agree that the shopping process is a bonding opportunity for the buyer and the child(ren). In fact, 76% of shoppers let the student(s) pick out most if not all of the back-​to-​school items themselves. So, your client’s online content and ads should be targeting the students as much as, if not more than, the adults making the purchases.

What are they shopping for? The primary categories your client should highlight in their online content should be:

  • Clothing and apparel
  • Footwear
  • Notebooks, pencils and other school supplies
  • Backpacks and bags
  • Hand sanitizer, masks and other personal hygiene items
  • Computers, calculators and other electronics
  • Sports equipment

Photo by Carl Jorgensen