As the economy undergoes significant changes caused by a continuing pandemic, racial injustice, and other societal shifts, advertisers simply cannot ignore new consumption patterns. This August, more consumers are prioritizing their safety and prefer shopping online to traditional retailers to buy school supplies.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the usual back-to-school marketing season has also shifted in timing. Some school administrators prefer to hold off on committing to the full or partial reopening of schools, while others headed in the opposite direction, beginning their semesters a few weeks earlier than usual to avoid the major travel period and minimize the likelihood of infections.

What exactly should e-commerce brands be doing during the expected back-to-school increase in demand? Follow along if you want to know our optimization and creative tips for this high season.

Top products in demand

For obvious reasons, a lot of people will be homeschooling or doing hybrid learning this year. This lifestyle change brings some new opportunities for the e-commerce sector because it can react quicker than retail. Quite a large audience will be looking for school supplies, laptop devices, headphones, etc., so these items will be in high demand this August and September. Also, online courses, educational apps, and other online services that teach and entertain students while they are homeschooling will be sought after.

Nevertheless, many people are still physically going back to school, and these activities are combined with the post-lockdown renewal of social interactions. That means a spike in demand for schoolwear, backpacks, stationeries, and ‘coronavirus’ product categories like personal protection equipment such as masks, gloves, sanitizers, etc. Some schools will be implementing new rules restricting social interactions, e.g., kids will not share classroom toys and models. Be ready to fulfill these ‘new normal’ requests and also others, such as curbside deliveries or in-store pickups; be sure to communicate these opportunities on landing pages and ad creatives.

Creative approaches

Today, people are still afraid of the pandemic and an economic collapse, so the best advice for creatives would be to stay empathetic and communicate optimistic, aspirational messages. Using negative emotions, such as fear, might be compelling and click-worthy, but their exploitation during crisis proved to be less efficient when it comes to actual conversions and sales.

For example, if you sell schoolwear for kids, capitalize on the enthusiasm of getting back to school life, overcoming quarantine fatigue, and instill hope through your ads. Users are going to associate your brand with emotions they got, therefore spinning your messaging in a positive way, rather than negative; this marketing path is much safer when considering product reputation.

This summer, racial injustice protests further stressed the importance of visual representation of different ethnic groups. Brands have to make sure that their advertising photos are diversified and cater to all ethnicities. In essence, it is always a good idea to represent all social and ethnic groups that you are trying to target, e.g., single parents, joggers, urban professionals, etc. This way, users immediately recognize themselves in the featured photos and become more inclined to click on these creatives.

Final thought

Quite a high demand can be predicted for technology and tech-related products, such as laptops and devices, but also for online services like courses, education platforms, apps, etc. In addition, people now go online for traditional back-to-school shopping items, as well as masks and sanitizers for their kids.

During these post-lockdown days, your communication with the target audience should be readjusted to the new reality. Users are more prone than ever to buy when they feel that brands have thought exactly about them and their struggles while creating these ads. Empathetic, optimistic messaging is more efficient and brand-safe for the vast majority of e-commerce offers.