Back to School Marketing Ideas

10+ Back to School Marketing Ideas & Trend 2024

With the back-to-school season just around the corner, businesses are looking to take advantage of one of the busiest shopping periods of the year. From stationery to clothing, electronics to accessories, the opportunities are large and varied. But how can you ensure your back-to-school marketing ideas stand out from the crowd?

We’ve got a guide here that’ll take you through all the key stuff you need to know about back-to-school marketing, focusing on what really works. Let’s dive into everything you need to know.

When Does Back to School Season Start?

Back-to-school shopping typically begins in early July in the United States, shortly after the Fourth of July holiday. The season usually lasts through late August before the new school year commences. This year, the 2024 back to school season started on July 4th, following tradition. The season wraps up in late August, right before the school bells start ringing again.

However, the exact timing varies by location:

  • In the United States, Europe, and Canada, the back to school period usually starts and ends in August before the school year begins.
  • In Australia and New Zealand, the back to school shopping season typically occurs in February to align with the school calendar.
  • In Malaysia, the back to school timeframe lasts from November to December.

It’s important for retailers to understand the local school calendar to maximize the impact of marketing campaigns. Timing is everything to capture the most customers during this major sales period. With smart planning tuned to the schedules by region, retailers can make the most revenue with endless back to school marketing ideas, no matter where they are located.

Back to School Season 2024

Typical Back to School Shopping Timeline

Here is a breakdown of the typical back to school shopping timeline:

  • Early July: First back-to-school sales start popping up. It’s a cool time to begin hunting for bargains on school items and clothes.
  • Mid-July: Back-to-school shopping really gets rolling. This is when you should begin searching for sweet deals on tech stuff, backpacks, and all the other school must-haves.
  • Late July: The back-to-school shopping buzz is all around. This is when you should wrap up your shopping list and start buying product.
  • August: The back-to-school shopping scene cools down. This is when you can snag last-minute deals and clearance items.

Online Shopping Trends

If you’re thinking of doing your back-to-school shopping online, you might start seeing deals as early as June. But, the top deals usually show up in July and August.

Online shopping is becoming more and more of a big deal for back-to-school shopping, so stores better make sure their online game is strong for the shopping rush.

Most Popular Back to School Products

Most Popular Back to School Products

If you’re thinking of doing your back-to-school shopping online, you might start seeing deals as early as June. But, the top deals usually show up in July and August. Online shopping is becoming more and more of a big deal for back-to-school shopping, so stores better make sure their online game is strong for the shopping rush.

  • T-Shirts: T-shirts are a classic back-to-school item that never goes out of style. Available for men’s t-shirts, women’s t-shirts, and kid’s t-shirts, they can be customized with any design, such as school logos, snappy slogans, or popping patterns. They are also relatively inexpensive to produce, making them a good option for businesses with a limited budget.
  • Jerseys: Popular among sports fans and kids, products like Men’s Jerseys, Women’s Jerseys and Children add a bit of team spirit and unity to school shopping. You can jazz them up with team colors, school badges, and the student’s name, making them a rad choice for any school getup.

  • Hoodies and Sweatshirts: When the temperature starts to dip, hoodies and sweatshirts turn into must-haves for your closet. Slap on some cool designs, school emblems, or positive sayings. Offering for all genders including Men’s Hoodies, Women’s Hoodies, Kid’s Hoodies and Men’s Sweatshirts, Women’s Sweatshirts, Kid’s Sweatshirts sizes ensures you cater to a wide audience.

  • Backpacks: Backpacks are essential for students of all ages. Look for options with comfortable straps, durable materials, and enough space for books, laptops, and supplies. Consider features like water bottle pockets, laptop compartments, and reflective materials for added functionality and safety. Backpacks are also a nifty way to plug your business, ’cause they’ll be seen by students all day. Fancy features like USB charging ports and laptop compartments can make them even cooler.
  • Drinkware: Mugs and tumblers are handy back-to-school things that students will use every day. From morning coffee to staying watered during class, these can be jazzed up with school colors, logos, or other appealing designs. They make excellent gifts and promotional items.
  • Hat: Hats are a snazzy way to show school spirit or just add a little something to an outfit. They can be jazzed up with school logos, colors, or other one-of-a-kind designs. From baseball caps to beanies, hats are also a solid way to protect students from the sun and can be a hit during the back-to-school season.
  • Additional Trends: Beyond these classic items, it’s cool to note that tech toys, green products, and personalized stationery are getting more popular. These items offer extra chances for jazzing up and can line up with different marketing plans.

Back to school marketing ideas

1. Define your target audience

As we delve into the details of back-to-school marketing ideas, it is vital to first define and understand your target audience. So, who are these folks driving the back-to-school shopping rush? By using some solid info, we can peg six main types of back-to-school buyers:

  • Millennial Moms: Millennial Moms make up a big slice of the back-to-school buying pie. They’re clued-up about tech and are always online, often choosing to shop on digital platforms. So, if you make your online marketing a bit more personal for this group, you’ll likely see some good returns.
  • Moms with Little Kids (under 12): Parents with kids under 12 are a key piece of the back-to-school buying puzzle. These folks are usually hunting for kid-friendly, fun, and learning-focused stuff for their young’uns. Marketing moves that spotlight these factors should hit the mark with this crowd.
  • Moms with Teens: Moms with teenagers generally dig trendy and practical school gear. These buyers care about quality and style and want stuff that jives with their teen’s hobbies and tastes. So, brands should play up their cool, high-quality goods when selling to this bunch.
  • Deal Hunters: Everybody loves a sweet deal, and back-to-school time is no different. Deal Hunters are shoppers who put savings first. They get drawn in by markdowns, package deals, and promotional specials. So, your marketing should shine a big light on any awesome deals you’re offering for this season.
  • College Students: College students make up a special kind of back-to-school shopper. They’re often on the hunt for stuff that shows off their personal style and suits their specific school needs. Highlighting how your product is practical, stylish, and relevant to college life can reel in this audience.
  • Wealthy Families: Wealthy families often go for top-notch, high-quality goods. They’re ready to shell out more for stuff that delivers on quality, design, and function. Luxury and premium brands can draw this group in by showcasing their fancy back-to-school items.

2. Start your back-to-school campaign on time: Timing is key

Successfully tapping into the back-to-school market necessitates quick preparation and timely execution of your marketing strategies. You gotta know when the back-to-school season starts up in your area. Even across the U.S., the first day of school can be a whole lot different from one state to another.

Start Your Back-To-School Campaign at the Right Time

Studies show that about 54% of college and school shoppers start looking for their stuff in the last two weeks of July. So, it’s a smart move to kick off your campaign in late July and early August. This is when you can reach the most folks, grabbing their attention when they’re about ready to buy their stuff.

A Marketing Calendar can be a real game changer in sorting out your marketing campaigns. Marked with key dates each month, it can act like your roadmap, making sure you’re always on top of your marketing game throughout the year. For the back-to-school season, this means getting your shop, sales, and shoppers ready way before time.

3. Promote bundle deals

A key strategy to boost back-to-school sales is offering and promoting bundled deals on related products. These deals can provide convenience and savings to busy back-to-school shoppers.

When creating bundles, carefully select products that make sense together for your target demographic. For parents and students, bundles may include basic school supplies, tech gadgets, dorm room essentials, or snacks and beverages. Tailor the products to ease the shopping experience.

Promote these bundles as a cost-effective, time-saving solution compared to buying items individually. Emphasize the customizability and variety these bundles provide. Highlight relevant bundle types like “Buy More Pay Less," “BOGO," or “Clearance Bundles" to entice deal-seekers.

Some effective product bundling examples include:

  • Pure bundles of slow-moving products to boost sales
  • Subscription bundles that offer discounts and convenience
  • DIY bundles that provide choice and personalization
  • Seasonal bundles tied to back-to-school shopping
  • Favorites bundles featuring student must-haves
  • Limited edition bundles to create excitement

No matter the bundle type, make sure you establish the value of each item included. Find natural pairings of products at similar price points whenever possible. With smart bundling tactics, you can ease the back-to-school shopping stress for customers while also increasing sales.

back to school marketing ideas

4. Follow trends

In the super quick and always changing world of marketing, keeping up with the newest fads is a big deal. These fads range wide and far, popping up on different platforms and spaces, with social media playing a big role. If you can skillfully ride these waves, you can seriously boost your online sales and make your brand more seen.

From viral TikTok dances and songs to challenges, memes, and more – worldwide trends can seriously shape up your back-to-school marketing game. Following these trends and weaving them into your campaign keeps your brand fresh, catches the eye of your audience, and gives you an edge in a market packed with companies selling similar stuff.

In 2024, the effect of trends on how customers behave is more obvious than ever. Today’s shoppers, especially younger folks like Gen Z, are really into content shaped by trends. They’re more likely to vibe with brands that match their interests and values, which often show up in the trends they’re into.

back to school marketing ideas 2

You can take advantage of this by weaving these trends into your marketing game. For example, come up with a TikTok challenge using your back-to-school products or use trending memes in your social media posts. These tactics can increase engagement and get your brand more recognized among your audience.

But, remember to use trends wisely and genuinely. Just hopping onto a trend without getting its context or how it relates to your brand can do more bad than good. The trick is to pick trends that fit with your brand and ring true with your audience.

Keep in mind, trends can be here today, gone tomorrow, but the mark your brand leaves while riding them can stick around. So, stay in the loop, think outside the box, and follow trends to make sure your back-to-school marketing campaign is fun, timely, and hits the mark.

5. Offer student discounts

When it comes to back-to-school shopping, slashing prices for students can be a real game-changer. Students, whether they’re getting ready for school or college, are usually shopping on the cheap and love to find businesses that knock a bit off the price. With some cool deals, you can reel in these budget-savvy shoppers and give your sales a nice little bump.

back to school marketing ideas

Provide competitive discounts

Students are masters at sniffing out a good bargain, and they know exactly where to hunt down the best deals. To grab their attention, you’ve got to come up with a discount that makes other stores look boring. As a good starting point, aim for a price cut of at least 10%. But, you might want to think about offering even bigger price drops on stuff everyone wants or pricey items. Like, a 20% price cut on laptops or tablets could be a real winner for students.

Simplify the redemption process

Nothing makes a shopper bail faster than a discount that’s a pain to use. So, make sure getting your discount is as easy as pie. Whether it’s typing in a discount code at checkout or flashing a student ID in-store, the process should be a walk in the park.

Promote your student discounts

Just giving a student discount won’t do much if students don’t know about it. Be sure to shout about your student deals through different channels. Stick them front and center on your website, post about them on your social media, and use signs in-store to tell customers about the deals. The more people who know about your discounts, the more likely you’ll pull in student shoppers. For instance, you could start a social media campaign with a fun hashtag like #SchoolSavings or #StudentDiscounts2024 to get the word out about your discounts.

6. Run social media campaigns

Social media campaigns can be a wicked tool in your back-to-school marketing toolbox. Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok give you a killer chance to chat with your target audience, get your brand out there, and push sales.

Social Media for print on demand

You can use these platforms to showcase your products, promote discounts, and share user-generated content. Like, you could get followers to post pics of what they’ve bought using a tag with your brand on it, or have a fun contest where folks make a quick video with your stuff in it.

In 2024, social media’s still the go-to place for students and their folks to find out stuff. Using these platforms with cool, thought-out campaigns can get you chatting with your audience, make your brand pop online, and in the end, crank up your back-to-school sales.

7. Partner with influencers

Influencer marketing’s still a rockin’ strategy in 2024. By teaming up with influencers, you can reach their huge follower base, up your brand visibility, and add some street cred. This works super well for back-to-school marketing, as influencers can show off your products in a real, down-to-earth way.

Whether we’re talking about clothes, stationery, tech gizmos, or other school gear, having an influencer show off your products can really boost their cool factor. For example, you could work with a fashion influencer to strut your stuff in a ‘Back-to-School Outfit Ideas’ video or team up with a beauty influencer for a ‘School Makeup Tutorial’ showing off your products.

Also, ‘Get Ready With Me‘ (GRWM) videos are hot among students right now. Influencers can use your products in these videos, weaving them right into their back-to-school routine. This doesn’t just push your products but also shows them in action, making them look even better.

You might want to think about offering a special discount code through the influencer. This gives something extra to the influencer’s followers and could bump up your sales.

Influencers, with their persuasive power and killer reach, can massively up your brand’s recognition and trust. So, think about teaming up with them in your back-to-school marketing game for a potentially big payoff.

8. Create unique packaging

When it comes to back-to-school marketing, don’t underestimate the power of unique packaging. Creative, thoughtful packaging can elevate your products, making them more memorable and attractive to shoppers. It’s not just about what’s inside the box; in today’s competitive market, the box itself can be a significant differentiator.

In 2024, as consumers continue to seek personalized experiences, your packaging can be a reflection of your brand’s values and identity. For example, you could use eco-friendly materials to highlight your brand’s commitment to sustainability.

For back-to-school products, consider designs that appeal to students. You could use vibrant colors, fun patterns, or incorporate popular elements from pop culture. Packaging that doubles as a useful item, like a pencil case or a reusable bag, can also be a big hit.

back to school marketing ideas

If you’re selling online, your packaging is the first physical interaction customers have with your brand. Make it count. Create a memorable unboxing experience – include thank-you notes, stickers, or small freebies. Such personal touches can delight customers and encourage repeat purchases.

Remember, unique packaging can make your products stand out both on the shelves and online. Invest time and creativity into your packaging designs as part of your back-to-school marketing strategy, and it could pay off in increased sales and customer loyalty.

9. Run a giveaway

Throwing a giveaway is a bang-up idea to get more eyes and clicks during the busy back-to-school shopping time. Giveaways don’t just jazz up your audience, they’re also a fab chance to spread your brand’s name all over social media.

In 2024, with the popularity of social media platforms at an all-time high, organizing a giveaway has never been easier. Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok are prime spots for kicking off these events. You can get folks to follow your account, share the giveaway post, or use a certain hashtag, which can crank up your brand’s visibility.

What you’re giving away could be anything from hit back-to-school stuff to unique discount coupons. Plus, teaming up with another brand for the giveaway can stretch your reach even further and make the prizes more tempting.

Keep in mind, a top-notch giveaway can do more than just up your social media followers. It can also make more people know about your brand, pull in more visits to your website, and even lead to a jump in sales. So, think about slotting a thrilling giveaway into your back-to-school marketing game plan in 2024.

10. Back to school email marketing ideas 

Back-to-school time is a great chance to really connect with your audience with some savvy email marketing. You can mix and match info with sales promos, giving folks a combo of helpful content and shopping nudges to get more people over to your website and bump up your sales. Here’s a bunch of cool ideas for top-notch back-to-school emails in 2024.

  • Welcome Back to School: Kick off the season with a warm welcome and fill people in on all the cool new stuff in your shop.
  • Curated Product Guides: Stuff like School Supplies Guide, College Survival Kit, or Fall Favorites. These guides can make it a breeze for parents and students to find what they’re looking for.
  • Educational Content: Share some handy hints for the new term, lunch box recipes, or craft ideas. This kind of stuff can really grab people’s attention and shows that your brand’s about more than just selling things.
  • Special Offers: Things like Early Bird Specials, Sneak Peek Sales, or other cool discounts. These can get customers to buy now instead of later.
  • Personalized Recommendations: Shoot out personalized product tips based on what customers bought before or what they’ve been checking out.
  • Inspirational Content: Share success stories, motivational quotes, or educational resources to give students and parents a boost for the new school year.
  • Parent-Focused Emails: These could be quick tips for busy parents, product ideas for their kids, or special deals just for them.
  • Re-engagement Emails: For folks who used to shop with you but haven’t for a while, a friendly ‘Missed Ya’ email could get them back.

Each email should ideally start with a friendly hello, pack some useful info, and include a tempting call-to-action. Remember, if your content hits home and is relevant, you’ll get more people engaged, loyal customers, and more sales. So, a well-thought-out email marketing plan should be at the heart of your back-to-school marketing game plan in 2024.

Key takeaways for back-to-school marketing ideas

As summer winds down, the back-to-school shopping season kicks off – a prime time for retailers to connect with students and parents! By getting creative with digital and in-store campaigns, brands can make the grade this year.

Start planning early and optimize for local outreach. Update your Google listings and run hyperlocal social ads. Partner with student influencers and local schools for community events.

Remember parents are shopping too! Send personalized email recommendations for supplies and technology based on purchase history. Offer special discounts for bigger purchases like laptops and dorm room packages.

Lean into the online shopping explosion. Ensure your website and app are optimized for smartphones and tablets. Provide free shipping and in-store pickup options. Promote online deals through social media and text campaigns.

Track sales data to identify what’s resonating. Survey customers for feedback on their shopping experience. Keep iterating on campaign messaging and products to stay ahead of trends.

With smart omnichannel marketing tailored to students, parents and teachers, ecommerce sellers can assemble the perfect back-to-school lineup this season.

The back-to-school season is chock-full of chances for businesses to shine. Don’t forget to team up with a trusty fulfillment service like Merchize to make your operations smoother, making sure your products get to excited students and parents fast and fuss-free!

Benjamin Nguyen is a pivotal Search Engine Optimization Leader at Merchize, he dedicating his efforts to providing valuable resources to those in the Print On Demand industry. Gleaning from years of hard-earned experience in both the publishing and writing industries, Benjamin shares his wealth of knowledge through meticulously crafted marketing tips, insightful selling guides, style & trend advice, and indispensable e-commerce tutorials.