Back to School Marketing 2022 – How to Grow Sales and Foot Traffic This Season


Last Updated: July 19, 2022

an image reading 'back to school' surrounded by colorful school supplies

Every fall, millions of children, teenagers, and even adults head back to school. It’s probably not everyone’s favorite moment of the summer, but it’s inevitable and necessary. And we spend a lot of money doing it. Back to school spending projections in 2021 were around a cool $87 billion. So, as a retailer, how can you get a slice of this big ole pie? You can start by coming up with a great back to school marketing campaign.

And you don’t need to have a retail store dedicated solely to the niche. These days, back to school shopping includes clothing, accessories, electronics, furniture, books, stationery, and athletic gear, among others. Get creative by even using a small part of your store to promote some back to school gear. So let’s talk about a few ways your retail store can join the frenzy and make both kids and parents love your store.

an infographic showing several statistics about back to school spending

5 Back to School Marketing Ideas

1. Embrace Digital Marketing and eCommerce

Digital advertising for short-term promotions, such as back-to-school sales, can greatly increase your foot traffic and sales. A well-curated Instagram grabs attention, especially from younger people. Online shopping now accounts for about 11% of retail sales and that number is rising fast. Your customers will be ecstatic to order their favorite back-to-school products right from the beach rather than dragging the whole family at the last minute.

2. Follow Back-To-School Trends

Keeping up with current back-to-school trends can easily get overwhelming. But even embracing a few will benefit your back to school promotions. Students are more diverse than ever, and their interests are as diverse as they are. Whatever trends you promote in your store will be sure to resonate with some people.

Best Buy ran a brilliant campaign in 2016 with Adam Devine. They even released a unique set of emojis you can download. The emoji stuff may have been a little excessive, but it worked. Devine’s comedy resonated with the students and awkward college moments resonated with the parents.

Kleenex took a slightly different but no less effective approach. They tugged at the heartstrings with their “Commitment to Care” back-to-school campaign. The video features middle school students sharing their worries and concerns as they head back to school.

No matter how far removed you are from middle school, you know the feeling. And nostalgia is powerful. Kleenex is also a great example of a company fitting back to school promotions into their product. Check out the great ad below and you’ll be reaching for the nearest Kleenex.

3. Giveaways, Contests, and Charities

This is one of the most effective promotional tactics that every retailer should consider. A giveaway can generate the viral publicity that every retailer dreams of. It’s not an easy tactic, because it takes a strategic analysis of your inventory and costs. You must be sure that any potential losses would not be catastrophic for business. Partnering a giveaway with influential brands or making it into a contest are good ways of increasing interest and revenue. Plus, kids love contests.

Genuine charity is also a great promotional tool. Back to school shopping can get expensive. And it’s an unavoidable cost for every parent. If you can help some local families with a few essentials, you’ll be giving back and attracting positive attention.

4. Create a Better Store Experience with Your Marketing Campaign

See related: 5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Customer’s In-Store Experience

Focus on the kids! Sure, it’s great to market to teachers, parents, and college students, but most of the money is coming from what children want. A great way to attract their attention is by incorporating a more engaging store experience. It doesn’t have to be anything too difficult to organize or set up. Set up coloring stations with different crayons, markers, and notebooks. Host an event that will bring in groups of kids and parents alike. It’s an excuse for everyone to get together and a great way to make the experience more enjoyable for everyone.

5. Be a Helpful Source of Information

Consumers don’t always know what they want. And if that’s the case, they would appreciate help from retailers who know their products. This is especially the case for parents shopping for their kids. They want to be spending their money on the best products at the best value. Help each customer make an informed decision on their back-to-school gear, and you’ll have plenty of happy families leaving your store with their school essentials.

Don’t forget to check out our other seasonal/holiday marketing guides below:

Every retail owner should look for their niche in the back-to-school frenzy. Find a spot that works for you and your store. And check out KORONA’s POS solution. It can help you set up loyalty programs, plan promotions, run inventory analyses, and much more. Click below to try out the software!

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Frequently Asked Questions About Back to School Marketing

How can I promote back to school?

A fun way to get families involved is by starting a back to school event with giveaways or contests. Parents and their children will want to join the fun while also getting their school supplies for the year. In addition, a charity will is a notable way to get people involved to consider those families and children in need.

When should you start promoting back to school?

The best time to start back-to-school promotions is in late June and early July. Start when the school summer season is nearing its end. Yet give enough time for those families who like to get a head start before the rush right before school starts.

How do you start a back to school campaign?

Begin by researching what is trending for this school year. Stay up-to-date with what students’ current interests are and take advantage of using social media marketing.

About the Author

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Michael Chalberg

Michael has long focused his writing on the world of retail and small businesses. He''s been a part of the KORONA POS team since 2018 and loves helping entrepreneurs find ways to adapt and succeed. In his spare time, you'll likely find him hiking somewhere in the Southwest.

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