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Back-to-School Opportunities


Back to School Sales

The National Retail Federation (NRF) tells us that the 2023 Back-to-School season will be a big one, with back-to-school spending expected to hit $864 per household, lifting the market to $36.9B. But that isn’t the whole story. NRF follows back-to-college spending separately, and that is an even bigger market with business and direct buyers. Serving these markets, from pre-k to post-graduate, means casting a wide net and then focusing marketing efforts to appeal to retailers, schools, parent-teacher associations, parents, and students who need print and promotional products.

Offering bundles can be a profitable option, especially in a market that NRF tells us will be full of bargain hunters. More buyers will be comparison shopping and watching for sales than in the last three years, which is an excellent basis for targeted bundles. Because each segment has different needs, consider the products you want to sell. Here are some offers to consider!

Pre-K Through Secondary

Retailers know the power of the sale by the cash register and the power of color. Make it easy for them to feature daily doorbuster specials at checkout with a bundle that includes overhead signs, shelf talkers, hang tags, and free-standing signs for the cash register area that call out today’s daily special. The cash register sign could include a rewritable area that creates a sense of a real-time discount, while hang tags and overhead signs can provide wayfinding to what the buyer needs.

If local school districts post their back-to-school lists, offer a notepad of lists for busy shoppers to pick up as they enter the store. Include callouts for the supplies for each category by age to make it easy, and consider color-coded floor signs to guide the shopping experience as they walk through the store. They might want to include branded promotional items for the local schools, including:

  • notebooks
  • water bottles
  • backpacks
So consider building a student-focused bundle for different grade levels. If you run a website or online storefront that invites consumer buyers, they might be looking for personalized school notebooks, backpacks, and water bottles.

Universities, Colleges, and Trade Schools

Higher education institutions are often in campus settings where wayfinding signs at the start of the semester paired with school spirit messaging and etiquette reminders (Don’t Walk on the Grass, Quiet in the Hallways) make a smart school bundle. For schools that offer student welcome packages, offer maps, notebooks, and promotional items like water bottles, and carry bags. A novel offering could be a playing card deck with school buildings, building maps, cafeteria times, sports schedules, and other information.


Often overlooked, there are usually a few organizations associated with schools at all levels. Parents, teachers, alumni, student associations, committees, clubs, and teams all have print and promotional needs. Look at the websites for the schools in your area. They often list the associations and contact information. Direct mail, notebooks, shirts, and caps could make good bundles. Alumni associations are often great candidates for direct mail campaigns to solicit new members and donations. As a bonus, these organizations have constant needs throughout the school calendar!

The data from NRF tells us that spending will be up for this season but remember that back-to-school has a long tail. Once school starts, there are changes every semester that can trigger continued buying all year once the relationship is established.

Talk to your 4over team for more ideas on what to sell and what bundles they suggest for your customers. They can help you design great packages that help you grow your business!

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