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A Marketer’s Guide to Back-to-School Campaigns

As summer comes to an end, it’s time to shift focus to one of the most crucial periods for B2C brands: back-to-school season. With K-12 spending up 2.1% and college-age spending up 3.8%, effective back-to-school campaigns can help marketers capture their next best customers and claim some of this growth. Whether you’re a retailer, an educational service provider, or a brand targeting students and parents, understanding the key audiences to target during this time is essential. In this article, we will explore the various back-to-school audiences you should focus on with actionable insights to help you reach and engage with them more effectively.

Back to School Campaigns: 5 Audiences to Target

The back-to-school season presents a unique opportunity for businesses to take a hard look at their audience segments, and determine who is most likely to buy their back-to-school products. Let’s take a closer look at some of the primary audiences you should consider targeting during this prime time:

1. K-12 Parents 

K-12 parents are the largest spenders on back-to-school items. This audience group is typically aged 35-44 years old and is expected to spend on average $890 per family on school supplies, up $25 compared to 2022. According to the NRF, this increase is primarily driven by higher demand for electronic items, with 69% of these shoppers expected to buy tech items for their children. 

k-12 parents are the largest back-to-school spenders

Marketers can effectively target K-12 parents by focusing on product quality, durability, and educational value. Emphasizing how your products can aid in their children’s learning and development can strike a chord with this audience in particular. Utilizing storytelling and testimonials from satisfied parents can create an emotional connection, further reinforcing their trust in your brand.

Investing in targeted advertising can help put your brand in front of this audience at the right time. By analyzing browsing behaviors, purchase history, and demographic information, you can serve K-12 parents with personalized ads and promotions that cater to their specific needs and preferences.

2. Families Shopping for Shoes

Families typically spend a household average of $168.11 on shoes during the back-to-school season. This segment presents an excellent opportunity for marketers to tap into this dedicated niche.

Marketers looking to target shoe shoppers can utilize personalized email marketing and dynamic retargeting based on in-market shoppers. Consider showcasing the latest shoe collections, based on previous browsing behavior, purchase history, and seasonal trends.

Investing in mobile advertising and location-based targeting can also be highly effective, as shoppers often use their mobile devices to research and make on-the-go purchase decisions. 

3. Parents Looking for a Deal 

Prices for school supplies have surged nearly 24% in the past two years, causing more and more parents to seek cost-effective solutions without compromising on the quality of their children’s education. Marketers can target parents looking for a deal by emphasizing affordability and value in their back-to-school offerings. Presenting bundled deals or special discounts on bulk purchases can entice budget-conscious parents and position your brand as a practical choice for their back-to-school needs. 

Implementing loyalty programs and referral incentives can foster customer retention, further expanding your reach within this segment. Brands might also consider partnering with a retail media network to capture the attention of in-market shoppers and acquire new customers seeking deals. 

Engaging with this audience on price comparison websites and coupon platforms can be highly effective. Furthermore, email marketing campaigns tailored to their preferences and previous purchase history can nurture lasting customer relationships. Both approaches can help instill brand loyalty and promote repeat business.

4. Comparison Shoppers

Back-to-School shoppers report shopping for sales more frequently than the previous year

As prices increase, more and more consumers are comparing prices and considering off-brand or store-brand items. Last year, 42% of back-to-school shoppers reported shopping for sales more frequently than the previous year, while 35% expressed their intention to opt for store brand/generic products due to their lower cost. Marketers must keep these shifting trends in mind while devising their strategies and campaigns. 

Effectively target comparison shoppers by delivering clear and concise product comparisons, highlighting key features and benefits that set their offerings apart. Utilizing interactive content, such as side-by-side product comparisons, can engage these consumers and guide them toward making informed decisions. Leveraging data from previous shopping behaviors, marketers can also personalize product recommendations, showcasing alternatives that align with their preferences. Employing persuasive language and powerful CTAs (Call-to-Actions) can create a sense of urgency, encouraging immediate action and capitalizing on the shopper’s intent.

With a majority of comparison shoppers conducting their research online, investing in paid search advertising and display ads can effectively position your brand amidst their product exploration journey. Collaborating with influencers and running social media campaigns can also aid in building trust and credibility for your brand, ensuring a competitive edge in this dynamic landscape.

5. Sustainable Shoppers

As environmental concerns continue to grow, so does the segment of sustainable shoppers. These eco-conscious consumers are willing to spend 19% more than the average household on back-to-college shopping, with a strong focus on sustainable and eco-friendly products.

Target sustainable shoppers by demonstrating a commitment to eco-friendly practices and sustainable offerings. Highlighting environmentally conscious features such as recycled materials, eco-certifications, and reduced carbon footprints can appeal to this audience’s values. Sharing your brand’s sustainability initiatives and social responsibility efforts can foster a sense of shared purpose and engagement.

Utilizing programmatic advertising and retargeting based on consumer behavior can further reinforce your brand’s eco-friendly message, reminding potential customers of your sustainable offerings while driving conversions. Leveraging social media and influencers who advocate for sustainability can also enhance brand awareness and credibility among this audience.


Empower Your Back-to-School Campaigns with Lotame

As you gear up for the back-to-school season, leveraging data-driven insights is paramount to making your campaigns a success. Empower your data practice with the smartest, fastest, easiest source of trusted global data – Lotame Data Exchange

For marketers looking to tap into specific back-to-school audience segments, Lotame Data Exchange offers prepackaged audiences available across more than 50+ platforms, including DSPs, SSPs, social channels, and analytics and measurement platforms. These turnkey solutions streamline the audience targeting process, saving valuable time and resources while ensuring maximum reach and impact. For those seeking tailored approaches, Lotame Concierge offers the expertise of data experts, ready to create custom audiences that align precisely with your campaign objectives.

Ready to make your back-to-school campaigns smarter, faster, and easier? Reach out to us today!


  • Back-to-School Sales will Return to a More Normal, Prepandemic Growth Rate this Year – eMarketer
  • Back-to-School Shopping Statistics – Capital One Shopping
  • Back-to-School Shoppers Implementing Savings-Focused Shopping Behaviors Due to the State of the Economy in the United States From 2019 to 2022, by Method – Statista
  • Back-to-Class Shopping Expected to Reach Record Levels – NRF