2021 Back to School Trends and E-Commerce Categories

MediaGo Staff | 06/30/2021

With each passing day, we inch ever closer to “back to school” season. For kids, this might bring trepidation, whereas for parents it can bring a sigh of relief. But no matter how you feel about this time of year, there’s one undeniable truth of going back to school: it requires more shopping.

Back to school season in 2021 will be a bit different from previous years, as schools will adopt different degrees of in-class attendance. There will also be more subtle changes, like different age groupings, class sizes and perhaps even different curricula. But determining which of these changes will impact parents’ shopping needs is a different question altogether. 

In today’s post, we explore some of the back to school trends to expect in 2021, and what verticals advertisers should keep top of mind.

Back to School Trend #1: Digital Literacy

COVID-19 not only forced students to stay at home, it also pushed teachers into unfamiliar territory in terms of how to structure their classes. Teachers who were previously not comfortable using digital learning platforms and other online tools had to adopt a “sink or swim” mentality. As a result, digital literacy amongst educators greatly improved. It’s only logical to assume that teachers and the schools they work for will want to keep using the convenient digital tools they’ve grown accustomed to.

For advertisers focusing on digital education platforms, this is a no-brainer. But other SaaS services should keep an eye on the education space as well. Online education doesn’t exist in a bubble. Supporting services such as cloud file storage, identity protection, and more will be essential as schools work to maintain their online curriculum. Advertisers in the SaaS vertical shouldn’t miss this opportunity.

Back to School Trend #2: Protective Gear

Just when we thought it was safe to go outside again, we’re faced with multiple new variants of COVID-19. Parents will no doubt be concerned about their kids’ ability to stay safe in a crowded classroom. This is where protective gear will come into play.

Items like face masks and hand sanitizer will no doubt be on this year’s school shopping list. But in addition to this now standard fare, we’re bound to see a surge in demand for various antimicrobial items. Companies are already making anti-microbial smartphone cases and desk pads. There are even self-cleaning water bottles on the market. Parents will definitely want to pick up a few of these items, which means that advertisers should focus on these offers – which will likely perform well.

Back to School Trend #3: BYO Stuff

Perhaps the biggest category of all is shareable items. 

Items that were once considered shareable amongst classmates like pencils, crayons, notebooks, erasers, and other such things will undoubtedly be held to new sanitary standards by parents. This means that kids will need to have their own, personal set of school supplies.

While this was always the case to a certain degree, COVID-19 has ramped up peoples’ awareness of potential transmission risks. As such, we can expect staple back-to-school items to be in demand, as more parents will buy a personal set of supplies for their kids only – not for sharing.