Back to School Report 2019

Back to School Report 2019


INTRODUCTION

When it comes to back-to-school shopping, families are in need of different items depending on the life-stage of their children.

While elementary school students are growing out of their shoes every year, college students require new appliances for the dorm.

No matter the life stage, Amazon dominates as the largest back-to-school online retailer with 32% of visits during the shopping season, according to Hitwise data. Yet, competing retailers are growing with specific segments. Etsy is expanding popularity among elementary school families, while Target is gaining favor with college students.

To help marketers understand the distinctions between elementary school, middle/high school and college, our digital insights report will answer:

  • Which kinds of items are they searching for?
  • Which brands are benefitting most during this key shopping season?

Visits to Top Retail Sites
8 Weeks ending 8/24/19

Source: Hitwise, US. Visits to top retail sites by life-stage segment, 8 weeks ending 8/24/19.

What’s Inside

PART ONE

Elementary School: Retail-specific shoppers seeking shoes & supplies

PART TWO

Middle/High School: Direct shoppers searching for the best deals

PART THREE

College: Home shoppers searching for new dorm finds


PART ONE

Elementary School: Retail-specific shoppers seeking shoes & supplies

Where did elementary school families shop?

As with most back-to-school shoppers, elementary school families shopped the most at Amazon. 7% of all visits to Amazon resulted in a purchase during the 8-week period ending 8/24/19. Not only that, but Amazon also garnered 22x more purchases from this segment than Walmart.

Etsy is growing fastest with elementary school families and actually generated more purchases from this audience than Target did during the back-to-school season.

Purchases & Conversion Rate

Source: Hitwise, US. Purchases and conversion rates from top retail sites, 8 weeks ending 8/24/19.

What are elementary school families looking for?

Families with children 6-11 years old over-indexed for shoes, clothes and school supplies during the back-to-school season. When it comes to shoes, parents are seeking out specific stores like Payless and Foot Locker.

These families are also searching for new backpacks from specific brands, such as Jansport and Herschel. Aside from backpacks, parents usually need to purchase new supplies every year.

As with shoes, elementary school families search for particular retailers when doing back-to-school shopping. Book retailer Barnes & Noble and art supply store Blick are 2x as likely to be searched for by this audience.

Over-Indexed Searches
Compared to Online Population

Shoes
“the children’s place”2x
“payless shoes”2x
“shoe palace”2x
“footlocker”1.3x
“shoe carnival”1.1x

Supplies
“jansport”2x
“blick”2x
“herschel”2x
“barnes and noble”2x
“box lunch”1.5x

Source: Hitwise, US. Index of top searches leading to retail industry, 8 weeks ending 8/24/19.

Which shoe brands benefit from back to school?

Parents with young children are in need of new shoes almost every year. Which brands are garnering attention during this peak shopping period within the shoe category?

On Amazon, the top searched term for children’s shoes was “boys shoes” in July 2019. Traditional brands such as New Balance and Under Armour received high traffic within Amazon from this search term. However, new brands like HOBIBEAR and UOVO are gaining more page views from this term than big names like Adidas and Nike. In fact, HOBIBEAR receives 2x more traffic from “boys shoes” than Nike, and none of this traffic comes from sponsored posts.

Page View Share from “boys shoes” by Brand
July 2019 on Amazon

BrandPage View Share
New Balance25.6%
Under Armour14.2%
HOBIBEAR7.5%
adidas6.9%
Skechers
5.1%
UOVO4.5%
Feetmat3.9%
Nike3.8%
Sperry3.5%
Puma2.5%

Source: Hitwise Amazon Search Intelligence, US. Share of page views from “boys shoes” searches on Amazon, July 2019.

TOP TAKEAWAY

Elementary school families are shopping with specific retailers in mind. Despite their strong affinity for big brands and retailers, smaller competitors, such as Etsy or HOBIBEAR, are growing their engagement with this audience.

PART TWO

Middle/High School: Direct shoppers searching for the best deals

Where did middle/high school families shop?

While the majority of their back-to-school shopping was done on Amazon, middle and high school families have a higher share of visits to and purchases from Walmart than others.

Unlike other back-to-school shoppers, middle and high school families have a conversion rate on Home Depot greater than 2%. They also have a slightly higher conversion rate on Amazon, with retail analytics showing that this audience is more direct in their shopping journeys during school shopping season.

Purchases & Conversion Rate

Source: Hitwise, US. Purchases and conversion rates from top retail sites, 8 weeks ending 8/24/19.

What are middle/high school families looking for?

Families with children 12-17 years old are searching for new fall apparel before the start of the school year. This segment is 70% more likely to search for Stitch Fix, especially now that the subscription box company offers options for every age.

They also seek out specific brands that appeal to younger generations, such as Supreme, Hollister, and Aeropostale.

Today’s school assignments require the use of a computer, so parents of middle and high school students are looking for affordable options. Aside for searching for particular brands (Dell, Macbook), this audience is searching for“deals” on new computers.

Over-Indexed Searches
Compared to Online Population

Apparel
“stitch fix”1.7x
“hollister”1.3x
“supreme”1.3x
“aeropostale”1.2x
carnival1.2x

Electronics
“dell computers”2x
“macbook”2x
“best buy laptops”2x
“desktop computer”2x
“laptop deals”1.5x

Source: Hitwise, US. Index of top searches leading to retail industry, 8 weeks ending 8/24/19.

Which computer brands benefit from back to school?

Since several families are after new computers during the back-to-school season, July is a strong month for laptop sales. On Amazon, over 250K laptops were sold in July, which is 20% higher than sales in November 2018.

To generate strong sales during this season, several brands optimize their paid search strategies on Amazon. Although less effective, LG and Microsoft receive high volumes of page views from sponsored posts (58% and 36%, respectively). HP and Acer, two of the top brands on Amazon, require less paid support to generate page views from “laptop” searches.

Amazon Renewed’s higher share of views than Samsung shows an interest in affordable options, such as pre-owned or refurbished.

Page View Share from “laptop” by Brand
July 2019 on Amazon

BrandPage View Share
HP24.2%
Acer19.3%
Lenovo16.0%
ASUS13.7%
Dell8.4%
Amazon Renewed6.9%
Samsung4.2%
MSI1.8%
LG0.8%
Microsoft0.7%

Source: Hitwise Amazon Search Intelligence, US. Share of page views from “laptop” searches on Amazon, July 2019.

TOP TAKEAWAY

Middle and high school families are more direct in their shopping journeys, due to higher conversion rates. They are interested in affordable options when shopping for new electronics and clothing.

PART THREE

College: Home shoppers searching for new dorm finds

Where did college students shop?

Despite being the smallest segment, college students did the highest share of their shopping at Amazon compared to other segments. Amazon’s attempts to gain new college student Prime members through promotions for unlimited music appear to be paying off.

Target is also winning with college students as they shop for school. College students had a higher share of shopping at Target compared to the other audiences, which means that improvements to their home department are resonating with this audience.

Purchases & Conversion Rate

Source: Hitwise, US. Purchases and conversion rates from top retail sites, 8 weeks ending 8/24/19.

What are college students looking for?

Since college students are moving into a new place, they often need new home appliances. Some of the top over-indexed searches from college students during back-to-school shopping are for fans, vacuums, and mattresses. In some cases, these shoppers aren’t sure of what to buy so they will search for “best rated” items.

This segment is also searching for items that enhance the college experience. Cassette adapters for the car, baseball bats for pick-up games and Pedialyte for when the hangover is too tough are some items that they over-index on during this shopping season.

Over-Indexed Searches
Compared to Online Population

Home
“cold air fan”4x
“casper twin matress”4x
“cooling fan for bedroom”3.5x
“best rated vacuum cleaners”3x
“dirt devil vacuum cleaner”3x

Miscellaneous
“pedialyte”15x
“baseball bat”9x
“android tablet”7x
“cassette adapter”6x
“vortex venom”4x

Source: Hitwise, US. Index of top searches leading to retail industry, 8 weeks ending 8/24/19.

Which vacuum brands benefit from back-to-school?

As college students enter the real world, they also become responsible for cleaning up after themselves. Which brands are benefitting from this new audience needing a vacuum cleaner?

Overall searches for “vacuum cleaner” increased 2.3x from June to July on Amazon, but Eureka received the most page views from the term. Not only that, but the brand increased page view share by 10% month-to-month, outpacing Bissell.

Page View Share from “vacuum cleaner” by Brand
July 2019 on Amazon

BrandPage View Share
Eureka24.9%
Bissell13.3%
Shark10.6%
Black + Decker6.2%
Moosoo M
6.1%
Dirt Devil5.6%
Dyson5.0%
Hoover4.5%
Tineco2.3%
ONSON2.0%

Source: Hitwise Amazon Search Intelligence, US. Share of page views from “vacuum cleaner” searches on Amazon, July 2019.

TOP TAKEAWAY

College students require new furniture and home appliances, which is why they shop more from Target and look for vacuum cleaners. They also search for things that are specific to improving the college experience, like Pedialyte.

SUMMARY

Key Takeaways

Elementary School

  • Interested in shopping at specific retailers during back-to-school season
  • Emerging brands have a greater opportunity to create loyalty with a younger audience

Middle/High School

  • Higher conversion rates on Amazon and Target than other audiences
  • Searching for affordable options, based on searches for “deals”

College

  • Over-index for shopping at Target, which has a large home department
  • Need help choosing new dorm items as evidenced by searches for “best rated”

Want more insights on the back-to-school season?

Hitwise will help uncover digital insights into your strategic audience segments.