Here Comes the Back to School Season

Summer clearance sales at the end of July used to be the start of the Back to School (BTS) season as retailers shifted in-store merchandising space from patio furniture, BBQ supplies and picnics to backpacks, pencils and lunch boxes. Late summer remains a key BTS period for many retailers – and can be seen on this 2014 vs 2013 chart. However, the BTS season is being redefined in terms of timing and focus.

Retailers are now implementing programs that reflect three opportunities to drive more school-related trips throughout the year: “Core Back to School” in mid-to-late summer, “Return to School” in early January, and targeted “Continuity” programs

  • Core Back to School: Retailers are starting their programs earlier and spreading their activity across more weeks in the summer to get a jump on their competition. Core Back to School can be divided into two distinct shopper segments: Kids and College. The Kids trip focuses on products like backpacks, school supplies and lunch box items. The College trip focuses on wireless phones, dorm rooms, and technology. There is intense competition across weekly retailer advertising and promotion activity to win these trips and capture these sales during these weeks.
  • Return to School: Following the Winter Holidays and continuing into January, retailers remind parents and students to restock their school supplies or to select their wireless phone service. Additionally, affinity programs like Box Tops for Education™ and Labels for Education® remind families that their schools can earn cash by redeeming proofs-of-purchase from participating brands. These affinity programs also provide retailers with themed events which may be merchandised across multiple brands, categories and manufacturers.
  • Continuity: Food retailers focus on snacking and lunch box promotions throughout the year. Retailers like Walmart, Target and Meijer, highlight School & Office Supplies categories throughout the summer. Activity for wireless phones and technology increases during the graduation season which may also signal the start of the college-bound BTS season. For example, in April 2013 Target ran a Spanish-language creative only on Spanish-language cable TV in select markets which featured Hispanic teens receiving their college acceptance letters. By celebrating the success of these students and the pride of their families, Target created engagement with their shoppers as they prepared for their first college-bound BTS season.

Timing and focus are becoming more important to the Back to School season which will require more specific planning and execution. Kantar Media helps leading manufacturers and retailers save time, avoid surprises and increase sales by aligning the right programs with the right retailers during the right weeks.

Contact Kantar Media to discuss opportunities for your brands, categories, and retailers.

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