Just like the Christmas trees and decorations that make their debut by the end of September, back-to-school ads are mimicking the trend. As soon as school ended last spring, the kids were ready for sunshine and swimming pools but the advertisers were ready for them to go back. Why advertise so early? It’s all about consumer behavior.

As far as consumer spending goes, the back to school shopping season is the second largest seasonal shopping period of the year. For the most effective ad campaigns, you must know your consumer. 

What are the trends?
Consumers search before they shop. The back-to-school search interest grew by 48% last year and is continuing to increase this year. Helpful tip to advertisers: Most likely, they’re searching for the deals. Just like Black Friday, you’ll want to put out your steals and deals well in advance. 

In between playing Candy Crush and checking their email, back-to-school shoppers are doing this searching with their phones. They also use said device to research products and compare prices. 

Mobile buying has increased in just about every market with the back-to-college shoppers leading the trend. 31% plan to buy products with their smart phone and 35% plan to purchase with their tablets. With retailers making all of their sites mobile friendly, who wouldn’t go with the ease and convenience of using their phone to buy their dorm room essentials? 

What are the specifics?
For those not shopping online or on their phones, shoppers are looking for “stores near me.” Consumers are living in the moment and not planning these trips quite like they used to. For example, the search for  “shoe stores near me” spiked in August the last two years in a row. People are out and about and are trying to fit in their school shopping whenever they can spare a moment!

When is also a factor. The start of the school year varies on region. Searches for backpacks start in the south around late June expand westward, head to the Midwest and then the Northeast. Keep in mind that some kids begin school a full month before others depending on where they live. 

What’s the spending look like?
Families plan on spending $97. 74 on just school supplies alone. That is just your pencils, backpacks, Lisa Frank notebooks (was that just me?) and other essentials like that. 

Overall, the average family with children K-12 plan to spend $630 on back-to-school shopping.

The average college student or college family spends around $899 on back-to-college shopping and $126 on dorm or apartment furnishings.  (Get ready for the real world, kids!) 

The total combined spending for back-to-school and college is expected to reach $68 billion in 2015.

What does this mean for advertisers?
Be active online. Since consumers are researching back-to-school in advance, you want to make sure your products are top of mind when consumers are ready to purchase.

Go Mobile. Make mobile a central part of your marketing strategy and you are sure to see results. A great mobile experience will bridge the gap between just searching your products and actually purchasing them. 

Consider location. This will help you know when to begin in-store promotions and help plan media flights. 

Knowing your consumer’s behavior is the best way to ensure an A+ in your advertising campaigns! 

Now for a little back-to-school fun…check out the Revelers in their glory days! (It’s ok to laugh. We definitely did.)