Peak back-to-school shopping season might be earlier than marketers think
- Back-to-school shopping starts to see a climb in online conversions following the Fourth of July holiday, peaking at the start of August, and actually begins to decline during what's deemed the "back to school high season" of July 22 through Aug. 5, according to a study from the programmatic advertising firm MediaMath reported on by Adweek.
- MediaMath analyzed data that found both spending and conversions largely rose "in tandem" during the period of July 8 through Aug. 5 last year, per Adweek. Industry trade group the National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts back-to-school spending will overall be up this year at $75.8 billion compared to $68 billion last year, Adweek said.
- MediaMath's research also uncovered kindergarten through high school shoppers had the highest conversions in late July and early August while college shoppers can be best reached between early July and mid-August. MediaMath also said ads bought via premium media inventory outperformed all other media by 2x.
MediaMath’s findings are just the latest example of how greater insights into consumer data and shopping habits are upending certain industry givens. Back-to-school shopping is a huge sales period for many major retailers and brands, but the new study suggests that the optimal window for reaching consumers is actually earlier than many might have expected, and that what's been thought of as the shopping "high season" is comparatively sluggish.
As Adweek noted, for any marketer aiming to engage and convert back-to-school shoppers, it's probably a smarter bet to get started sooner rather than later — wisdom that's carried over to other major marketing events like the holidays.
The MediaMath study also points to how newer channels are starting to take over areas typically dominated by brick-and-mortar retail. Findings underscored the growing role mobile traffic plays in back-to-school shopping, in particular, reaching its highest volume from July 10 to Aug. 28.