Making the grade with back-to-school and college shoppers

While some kids can’t wait to escape the classroom for summer break, retail marketers are heads-down thinking about A+ strategies for one of the busiest shopping seasons of the year: back-to-school.

According to eMarketer, back-to-school retail sales have increased by 14% and ecommerce sales have increased more than 75% since 2012. With this rise in online shopping, we analyzed back-to-school search and purchase behavior to help marketers understand how they can best influence consumers from the start of the shopping journey and beyond. Here’s what we found:

Searching takes place well in advance of purchasing

  • Nearly 50% of back-to-school purchases happen in July and August, with August showing an average back to school purchase volume that is 3x higher than normal.
  • But over half (52%) of all back-to-school searches take place from January to the end of July.

Back-to-school shoppers start searching for products early and they take their time to research extensively. Marketers need to have their messaging in front of customers early, ensuring they are top of mind with customers during this lengthy consideration phase. When they are ready to buy, there’s a higher likelihood that they’ll visit your store, whether online or offline, to make the purchase.

Search timing varies based on types of items

  • Searches for school supplies peak in August, and searches for school apparel peak in September.

  • Weekdays are busy, and search volume for school supplies peaks on Monday whereas search volume for electronics peaks on Friday.

Shoppers aren’t necessarily in-market for all things at once nor does back-to-school shopping end in August. Marketers should consider tailoring their messages to the types of products consumers need at specific times through the summer and early fall months and throughout each week.

Bargain-hunting stretches beyond summer

  • The busiest day of 2016 for searching back-to-school discounts was Sunday, August 14th (+660% above daily average).
  • However, the second busiest day was December 21st (+330% above daily average).

Searches for back-to-school deals spike during July and August, but consumers are searching for back to school deals during winter break as well. Rather than focusing only on the summer back-to-school season, marketers can plan relevant, impactful campaigns at other key shopping moments in the year.

Yahoo’s insights provide marketers with a peek into the mind of back-to-school shoppers as they look for information across the internet for products, brands, and deals. These trends are an important indicator of how shoppers approach the back-to-school season and understanding this behavior will set retail marketers up for a success during this busy buying season.

To partner with Yahoo to reach back-to-school shoppers, please contact your sales representative or contact us here.

Source: Yahoo Internal Data, 2016