The back-to-school shopping season is around the corner and consumers are writing up their shopping lists of pencils, textbooks, and first-day outfits. This season, 72% of consumers say they’re planning on going back-to-school shopping - making it a key opportunity for your business.   

To get a clearer picture of school shopping behaviors, spending habits, and consumer preferences, we surveyed 7,315 US shoppers. Here’s what we learned: 

1. 54% of consumers use a mobile app for their back-to-school shopping

The majority of US consumers are likely purchasing their back-to-school supplies from their devices - 54% of those surveyed say they’ll be doing their shopping from their mobile apps. 

Many consumers already rely on their phones for their shopping needs, from researching deals to finding a store’s location. It makes sense, then, that they’d rather download an app than drive to their nearest store. 

Takeaway: An easy way to win customers is to make sure they’re aware you have an app they can directly shop from, making their shopping more efficient during this busy period. Feature your app in your advertising campaigns to remind users that your brand has an app touchpoint they can use to browse or even make purchases.

2. 60% of consumers plan to do their back-to-school shopping between July and August

29% of consumers surveyed expect to do their back-to-school shopping in July and 31% in August. Since over 60% of consumers plan to get their shopping done in these two critical months, you only have a narrow window to maximize the impact of your back-to-school campaigns. 

The numbers peak in August and then drop to their lowest in September (3.6%) - so don’t miss the deadline or you could land in the seasonal dip. Though it’s a limited timeframe, it’s a great opportunity to drive significant ROI and create impactful engagements. 

Takeaway: It’s critical to be intentional about when and how you start to run your campaigns. Start running your back-to-school test campaigns as soon as possible to ensure you have time to analyze and optimize before the July/August window closes.

3. 76% of respondents shop at 2-5 retailers for their back-to-school supplies

A majority of consumers surveyed had one thing in common - they would be shopping at multiple retailers for their back-to-school supplies. 50% of those surveyed said they would shop at 2-3 retailers and a further 26% said they would be visiting 4-5 retailers. Only 13% of respondents said they would be shopping at a single retailer.

Takeaway: Smaller retailers should feature high-demand products in their campaigns so users know they can find exactly what they need with your brand. For larger retailers, focus messaging and creatives on your wide product range so users know they can get more of their back-to-school shopping done with you - saving them time.

4. 78% of consumers plan to spend more than or the same as last year

While other retail sectors have seen a drop in spending this year, most consumers plan on spending the same as they did last year on their back-to-school shopping. In fact, 29% of surveyed shoppers plan to spend more.  

While budgets are tightening in other places, back-to-school shopping is a necessity for most - making it one of the few areas where customers are willing to increase their spending and a prime opportunity for advertisers to drive more business. 

Takeaway: Turn your browsers into buyers by using the seasonal shopping boost to promote your inventory as a whole. With consumers increasing their spending on back-to-school supplies, it’s a great time to push related school and children products - like sporting goods and toys.  

5. 52% of respondents said they are likely to be influenced by rewarded ads

Over half of all respondents (52%) said they are likely to be influenced by rewarded ads (in-app ad units that offer users a reward in exchange for opting in to interact with an ad) during the back-to-school shopping season - making them a great way to incentivize users to engage with your brand and choose your products. 

While rewarded ads are typically associated with games, it’s not only stereotypical ‘gamers’ seeing them: the majority of hypercasual gamers are women - the same group most likely to go back-to-school shopping (59%). 

Also of note, shoppers report the best predictor of where they’ll be doing their back-to-school shopping is a coupon or deal on their goods - 57% of respondents say they’re more likely to use a brand or retailer if they’re offered a promotion to shop there. 

Takeaway: Don’t underestimate the value of rewarded ads in your advertising campaigns. Use them to offer users deals on their purchases, giving them a good reason to choose your brand or app for their back-to-school supplies.  

With students getting ready to return to school, now is the perfect time to tailor your ad experiences for audiences shopping for the classroom. Use these findings to help you optimize your back-to-school strategy and meet customers how and where they’ll be shopping.

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