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Key Advertising Strategies this Summer: Back-to-School and Beyond

Summer is a pivotal time for marketers. As temperatures rise, so do the opportunities to connect with diverse audiences, from students and parents preparing for the school year to outdoor enthusiasts and entertainment seekers. For advertisers, it's crucial to plan strategically to maximize impact across these varied interests. 

We reviewed the Back to School 2023 Shopping in Canada Survey | National Consumer Research by Caddle & Retail Council of Canada and there are some important shopping trends and highlights that are key to planning your brand’s advertising strategies: 

  • Nearly two-thirds (66%) of Canadians now specifically travel to buy Back to School items, a significant increase from 32.7% in 2022.

  • 81% of Canadians prefer to buy their Back to School items in local physical stores rather than online.

  • Roughly 73% of Canadians planning Back to School purchases expect to spend over $50.

  • Stationery (60.8%) and clothing (54.2%) are the main categories where Canadians spend the most for Back to School.

  • Big Box retailers capture the largest portion of spending, with 62.3% of Canadians shopping there for Back to School items.

So how do we use these insights and what would make the advertiser successful in creating touchpoints and making a sale. Here’s a comprehensive look at the essential factors to consider for your back-to-school advertising campaigns:

1. Timing Your Back-to-School Campaigns

While back-to-school might feel synonymous with late summer, planning and execution should begin much earlier. Campaigns launched in early summer can take advantage of pre-season promotions and capture the attention of parents looking to beat the rush.

For the best results:

  • Start Early: Initiate campaigns in late June to gradually build brand awareness.

  • Peak Phases: Schedule heavier advertising in late July and August when most shopping takes place. Deloitte Insights covers the most busy periods during back-to-school shopping in their 2023 Deloitte back to school survey.

  • Last-Minute Push: Don’t forget about last-minute shoppers with promotions right before school starts.

Deloitte chart showing when respondents will do back to school shopping

2. Targeting the Right Audiences

Understanding who you’re talking to is crucial. Segment your audience to tailor messages that resonate:

  • Students: Focus on trendy, tech-savvy products that appeal to their lifestyle. Utilize platforms like Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram where younger audiences spend most of their time.

  • Parents: Emphasize value, durability, and educational aspects. Channels like Facebook and Pinterest, along with more traditional media such as TV, can be highly effective.

3. Embracing Seasonal Themes

Summer isn’t just about preparing for school—it’s a season filled with outdoor activities, vacations, and entertainment. This is an excellent opportunity to align your brand with these themes:

  • Outdoor Products: Highlight the durability and outdoor usability of products, perfect for summer adventures.

  • Travel and Leisure: Target vacationers with travel essentials, booking tools, or entertainment options like audiobooks and playlists perfect for road trips

  • Seasonal Sales: Utilize holidays such as Fourth of July or Canada Day to launch themed promotions or sales.

4. Leveraging Localized Advertising Strategies

Geolocation technology allows for highly targeted local ads, which can be incredibly effective during the summer when people travel more frequently:

  • Local Events: Sponsor or advertise at local sports events, concerts, or festivals.

  • Regional Targeting: Tailor campaigns by region based on popular local summer activities or weather patterns.

  • In-Store Promotions: Drive foot traffic with ads for in-store exclusives or events.

5. Integrating Omni-Channel Strategies

An integrated approach ensures that your message is consistent across all platforms:

  • Cross-Platform Messaging: Maintain a unified theme across online and offline channels to strengthen brand recall.

  • Mobile Optimization: Ensure all digital content is mobile-friendly, as mobile usage increases when people are on the go during the summer.

  • Interactive Campaigns: Engage users with interactive content such as quizzes, contests, or AR filters that can bridge the gap between digital ads and physical products.

6. Analyzing and Adapting

Finally, it's essential to monitor the performance of your campaigns closely:

  • Real-Time Adjustments: Use analytics to adapt campaigns quickly based on which ads perform best.

  • Post-Campaign Review: Analyze what worked and what didn’t to refine strategies for the next season.

Summer offers a unique set of opportunities and challenges for advertisers. By planning early, targeting wisely, and leveraging the right channels and technologies, you can ensure that your summer advertising campaigns are as effective and engaging as possible. With APEX Mobile Media's expert insights and innovative solutions, your brand can thrive in capturing the diverse summer audience, setting the stage for continued success into the back-to-school season and beyond.


Jal Sonpal is a marketing strategist at Apex Mobile Media. He has worked with major brands across the globe, primarily in sports and is a Master of Marketing graduate from the coveted Schulich School of Business in Toronto.



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