It looks like Back to School 2022 will finally mark a return to the return-to-school shopping habits experienced pre-pandemic. Despite the return to in-person learning in the physical classroom, data from Mintel, a global market intelligence agency, found that parents and students will still be depending on digital channels for their back-to-school shopping customer journey.
Based on our research and analysis of the coming back-to-school season, here are trends to incorporate for a successful back-to-school commerce marketing strategy:
1. Market to students (and parents) directly and separately.
We all know that the era of creating one 30-second TV commercial to market a product is over. Today, smart marketers are creating tens if not hundreds of specific ads for specific platforms targeting specific users. This means that marketers will need specific strategies for each platform that are relevant to those users being targeted. For most, this will probably mean targeting teenagers on TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat while targeting their parents on Facebook and Google. For kids not yet on social media, marketers will focus on platforms for younger kids like YouTube Kids as well as kid-focused ad networks such as SuperAwesome.
One marketer which provided a textbook example of how to market to both parents and kids during COVID-19 is Lego with the company’s successful #LetsBuildTogether campaign. The campaign’s website included links for a range of content aimed at kids (by age), including coloring pages and lullabies from the brand, as well as links to buy Lego kits and other parent-focused content. The campaign generated more than 4 billion views on YouTube, and many shares and likes across social media channels.
Crayola, a marketer of coloring and art supplies, created distinct marketing aimed at parents and kids. To encourage the use of the company’s coloring supplies, Crayola created printable coloring pages for a range of themes, including Disney, plants and animals, seasons, places, words, and letters. Crayola also offers adult coloring pages, tapping into the adult coloring book trend.
Another important point to remember for back-to-school marketing campaigns is that the traditional TV commercial all-white heterosexual family with kids only represents 25 percent of American families in 2022. From single-parent families to kids being raised by LGBT parents or grandparents, it’s important to be diverse and inclusive about what constitutes a modern family today.
2. Expect nontraditional brands to make an impact in back-to-school shopping in 2022.
A trend that has been growing, particularly on TikTok, is for nontraditional brands to find an audience and even go viral, thanks to TikTok’s algorithm and communities.
One such nontraditional brand is healthcare marketer Wisp. The company works with a range of influencers who publish healthcare-related content. These videos usually achieve many more views than the videos Wisp posts on its TikTok account.
Data from Influencer Marketing Hub citing Upfluence shows that micro-influencers with less than 15,000 followers generate a 17.96 percent average engagement rate on TikTok vs. a 3.86 percent average engagement rate on Instagram.
Given the strength of micro-influencers on TikTok, a strong marketing tactic for back-to-school is creator-generated content. In this arena, marketers and/or their agencies turn to creators/influencers to create and then push videos on TikTok as well as on other social media platforms.
For those needing a refresher course in Spanish, French, German, or Mandarin before returning to school, a second nontraditional brand making an impact on TikTok is Duolingo. The language learning app succeeds on TikTok thanks to a team with a finger on the pulse of TikTok and social media. The company jumps on trends quickly, rolling out fun and creative videos, usually with or about Duolingo’s green mascot. The company taps into the closeness of the name Duolingo to pop superstar DuaLipa’s name, including hashtags and even creating TikToks about the singer.
Speaking of apps, after school via Zoom over the last two years we've seen a pronounced trend of parents and kids turning to educational apps to supplement what's being taught in class. For most marketers, this is a real partnership opportunity to tap into the back-to-school focus as kids (often with their parents) brush up on school work at home via educational apps.
With the back-to-school shopping season around the corner, it’s not too late to integrate TikTok or other platforms mentioned above into your marketing efforts. This will enable reaching all relevant target audiences while making sure that you’re not getting flanked by a nontraditional brand that's using a channel your brand hasn’t yet mastered.
Omri Argaman is the chief growth officer at Zoomd, a MarTech company providing both advertisers and publishers a unified platform to manage all UA and monetization needs.
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Omri Argaman is the CMO and CGO of Zoomd, a site search engine for publishers, and a mobile app user-acquisition platform integrated with a majority of global digital media, to advertisers. Before Zoomd, Omri was a co-founder and VP of Business Development at mobile marketing provider Moblin since before the launch of the iPhone. Omri began his career working in sales, marketing, and business development for Microsoft.