Back to School: why your brand should be involved

Chalk board with 'Back to School' written on it

It’s time to start thinking about the biggest event in the student calendar – Back to School. Here, we provide an overview of this pivotal event, including when it takes place, when students start preparing for it and where your brand should start. 

Back to School is one of the most important seasons in the student calendar. Whether starting college, or going back for another year, this time signals a fresh start for students – and with a fresh start, comes fresh new purchases to make. 

For brands looking to engage with the next generation of consumers (which, let’s face it, you should be doing) Back to School is your ultimate chance to win Gen Z brand loyalty that can last way beyond college years. 

Consider this your guide to fully understanding and owning the Back to School season. Let’s get started. 

What exactly is Back to School? 

For college and university, Back to School sits at the very start of the academic year, just before classes kick off. It’s a time for all students, new and existing, to settle into their college accommodation, memorize their new class timetable, check out the activities fair to sign up to a new club or sports team, and to simply have some fun with friends. 

Group of students outside

For new students, Back to School is especially important because it’s their chance to explore their new college campus, move into their dorms and start making new friends. It can be both an exciting and stressful time for students – that’s why preparation is key. 

When is Back to School? 

The Back to School period can be dependent on individual college and university semester dates, but it usually takes place in mid-late August, with some students choosing to move into their accommodation as early as July. 

When it comes to shopping for Back to School, the majority of students (34%) do their shopping for college in August just a few weeks before the semester starts. Meanwhile, 26% start their shopping in July, and 17% begin making their key purchases in June. 

Back to school – the opportunity for brands

Throughout the year, college students spend an average of $1291 per month. Of course, spending differs depending on the time of year. Students will be spending more of their disposable dollars in the weeks leading up to events like Back to School, Black Friday, Thanksgiving and Christmas, when they’ll be spending more on college essentials, gifts and some treats for themselves.  

Across the year, 60% of their monthly spending goes towards non-essential items, and the remaining 40% goes toward essentials like grocery shopping, rent and bills. For Back to School, however, everything feels essential to students – whether it’s paying for new outfits to wear on campus, a new beauty regime, school supplies, or their first big grocery shop, you can guarantee they will have everything you could think of on their shopping list. 

Person grocery shopping

This makes the Back to School shopping event a multi-sector opportunity. Students will be needing everything from fashion and beauty, to homewares, tech and groceries. To make a good impression and win Gen Z consumers over, all brands need to be ready. 

Where to start

Gen Z students start thinking about their Back to School shopping early, so it’s important that brands do the same. 

The best way to present yourself as a student-facing brand around this key event is by providing student incentives. Start putting out the feelers in good time across your newsletter and social media content to make students aware that you will be offering Back to School deals. When the time comes, be sure to spread the word about your product offering and Back to School discounts via social media ads, as well as on your website. 

Learn more about how your brand can build brand loyalty with the next generation of consumers in the lead-up to this crucial event by tuning into our Back to School student panel discussion on-demand. 

Gen Z and the Future of Ecommerce

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