PMX Agency’s Back to School Study: The 6th Edition

It’s nearing the end of June, and for most students and educators, the daydreams of sweet summer months are finally becoming a reality. While most consumers begin to kick back at home, hit the beach and fire up the grill, there is no rest for the weary marketer! The ever-important Back to School marketing season is now in full throttle for School Year 2016-17, and if you’re feeling the pressure to meet those sales goals, we’ve got the insight you need!

Now celebrating our sixth year of publication, PMX Agency’s annual Back to School study examines the products, tactics and trends that inform this dynamic, youth-focused retail season. And second only to Holiday, Back to School represents a critical opportunity for brands and marketers to ramp up their omnichannel digital efforts in order to get in front of the competition, and engage customers during their highest moments of shopping intent.

In 2015, Back to School consumer spending (inclusive of online and offline, K-12 and college) totaled $68 billion. While that number reflects a 9% decrease from 2014 spending, enrollment is expected to grow significantly during 2016, which may cause a spending rebound. College enrollment and spending, in particular, is critical to the Back to School Season – 63% of total spending in 2015 was spent by college students and/or their families.

As Google continues its mobile-first vision for AdWords and the Display Network, tactics for reaching consumers, particularly through paid search, have evolved in tandem. With right rail text ads eliminated, Google Shopping Ads (PLAs) have enjoyed added exposure – keeping on trend with the increasingly visual nature of online shopping. More recently, Google introduced an expanded text ad format, giving marketers the opportunity to leverage longer headlines and more descriptive copy. These changes are certainly something to keep in mind throughout the advertising efforts for Back to School.

Some other important finding in the report include:

  • Back to School search interest grew substantially year-over-year, accelerating in July and peaking in the beginning of August.
  • Online behavior has become mobile-dominant, especially for Millennials, a generation that spans from college students to parents of school children.
  • Many shoppers start at Amazon, and growing numbers of consumers are using the app.
  • As visual forms of media show explosive growth, online ads are rapidly evolving in the same direction.
  • Social media and cultural touchpoints continue to influence Back to School marketing messages.

Get your copy of the full PMX Agency Back to School Study here!

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