Retail Marketing: Target and Acquire Back-to-School Shoppers Driven by Price and Value in 2022


As school dismisses for summer across the country, now is the time for retail marketing strategists to position their stores to acquire back-to-school (BTS) shoppers over the coming weeks.

According to a 2022 survey of BTS shoppers, three-fourths of them plan to keep their spending this year the same as 2021 or even less. This presents a challenge for shoppers as historic levels of Inflation, ongoing supply chain issues, and labor shortages continue to drive up prices. More than ever, price and value are projected to drive BTS purchase decisions in 2022.

  • How are they shopping? The majority of shoppers surveyed (83%) prefer to purchase school supplies in person (6% more than 2021), but a significant number will also utilize third-party apps like Amazon (30%), websites (24%), and store shopping apps (19%).
  • They buy more than just supplies: 60% of shoppers reported buying snacks for themselves or their children, and 50% reported buying clothing as part of their BTS shopping.
  • When is the best time to reach shoppers? Overall, consumers are making BTS purchases later in the summer. In 2021, more than half (53%) had not started as of July.
  • Why are they waiting? 50% are waiting for the best deals; 22% are spreading out purchases to manage their budget.

Despite shopper preferences to spend less, BTS spending will likely increase in 2022

  • One-fourth of shoppers surveyed said they already have spent more on school supplies in 2022 than 2021; only 22% said they have spent less money.
  • Nearly one-third of shoppers have spent more on apparel this year compared with the previous year; 18% have spent less.
  • Almost 40% of consumers reported spending more on snacks in 2022 than 2021; 17% spent less.

The overwhelming preference for buying school supplies is Walmart, according to two-thirds of shoppers surveyed, followed by Target (36%), Amazon (31%), and Dollar General (29%).

The strongest influence on purchase decisions for back-to-school shoppers are:

  • Price (61%)
  • Availability of Certain Items (42%)
  • Promotions or Discounts (35%)
  • Quick Delivery (16%)
  • Online Ordering Options (16%)
  • Loyalty Program (12%)

Coupons, used by 39% of consumers in our markets, are the top promotional influencer of back-to-school purchase decisions. It is noteworthy that in our smaller markets of residents of C & D counties, two-thirds of consumers do not shop Amazon Prime Day for their back-to-school needs.

Back-to-school shoppers respond to a variety of advertising tactics. Target them effectively with value-oriented offers in print and increase reach and response with complementary digital ads.

In the past 12 months, BTS shoppers have responded to ads across a variety of channels and touch points:

  • 63% have responded to ads/coupons in the mailbox
  • 60% have responded to an internet banner ad or pre-roll video ad
  • 65% have responded to a streaming TV ad

Extend Reach & Response with Multichannel Campaigns

Mspark has an unmatched relationship with our national audience through print solutions that our consumers value, and that enables us to create offer-driven action for our clients. With consistently high response rates, our print advertising solutions are the foundation of an effective multichannel marketing strategy.

Did you know?

  • Purchase intent increases 175% when your digital campaigns are anchored with print. Print drives 11% purchase intent compared to only 4% with digital alone.
  • Leverage print to drive traffic to your website: 61% of consumers visited a retailer’s website after receiving a print ad.
  • Increase awareness and retention with print and digital touch points: when consumers see both print and digital ads, they are more likely to notice the ad (52%) and—more importantly—to remember the message (52%).

When print is boosted by the extended reach of digital ads, they create a truly powerful combination that drives results.

  • Increase response as much as 30% by pairing print and digital ads.
  • 60% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase after seeing an ad offline and online.

Check out our retail case studies to learn how other clients have achieved results from a targeted, multichannel strategy. Connect with us today to plan your strategy.

 Sources: InMobi 2022 Back to School Shopper Survey; Prosper Insights & Analytics; AdMall AudienceSCAN 2021; Millward Brown Print Campaign Analysis; USPS Consumer Mail Moments Spring 2020, Summit Research; Valassis Awareness to Action Study; Connecting for Action – Canada Post Neuroscience Report; Valassis Purse String Survey