As students, teachers and parents alike settle into school after Spring Break, the promise of summer vacation is on the horizon. And with that comes the hope of in-person learning in the fall. Students will prepare to return to the classroom—some for the first time in nearly two years—and they’ll need far more than just pencils and books to succeed.
For brands, back-to-school is both a timeless tradition and an enormous opportunity. Back-to-school shopping is the second largest expenditure of the year—bigger than Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Easter combined. Even in 2020, as families both tightened their belts and brought the classroom to the living room, back-to-school spending increased 26%—and we’re projecting more growth this upcoming season.
Still, in order for marketers to realize the full potential of back-to-school shopping, they have to reach the right audience, at the right time, with the right message. Here’s how:
Don’t be late for school: Taking advantage of a white space
Today, there is a misalignment between consumer purchasing behavior and advertising spend. While brands’ top media spend is happening between September and December, 75 percent of back-to-school shopping occurs before the last two weeks of August. The most prepared parents—nearly 40 percent of them—are shopping even earlier than that, a good four to six weeks before school starts.
In other words, advertisers are late for school. By synchronizing your calendar with consumer spending habits, your brand can better reach your audiences when they’re actually shopping, and take advantage of a comparatively empty Q2-Q3 ad space.
Choose your classes carefully: Reaching a valuable audience
Of course, finding the right audience isn’t just a matter of when, but how.
Whether it’s maximizing reach with a broad audience or homing in on a strategic target, NBCUniversal offers the tools and insights needed to optimize media mix, drive relevant reach, and connect with shoppers, wherever and however they’re watching.
Not to mention, brands can leverage local capabilities to alter messaging based on varying consumer needs, schedule media based on different back-to-school timelines, and increase presence in competitive markets.
Raise your hand: Engaging with values-driven marketing.
Parents know better than anyone that this upcoming school year will be different, and at times, difficult—and 80 percent of them expect brands to keep advertising with this in mind.
With over two thirds of consumers expecting companies to discuss the current moment—and communicate brand values—purpose-driven messaging is the name of the game. That could mean supporting students with empowering content, or partnering with NBCUniversal to honor teachers and give back to schools, both through Teacher Appreciation Week in May and long after it.
Do your homework: embracing culture-driven creative
Though teachers, students, and parents alike are hoping for a fully in-person school experience, the hybrid learning model is likely here to stay. Rather than running from the new normal, advertisers have the opportunity to leverage One Platform to support evolving classroom needs—from custom content with lifestyle tips for students, to SYFY Gift Guides that highlight must-have tech for at-home education.
In addition, ads should represent the celebratory nature of this back-to-school season. With the United States on pace to immunize 85 percent of Americans by mid-September—and parents and kids (perhaps for the first time ever) eager for summer to end and school to begin—advertisers can, with the help of NBCUniversal talent and creative, mark this joyful occasion.
No matter how your brand chooses to approach this moment, One Platform is here to help you make the most of it. And with Shoppable content and commerce capabilities, there’s never been a better time to partner with NBCUniversal.
Because once school’s out for summer—advertisers, it’s time to jump in.