Pre-pandemic, an early July email with the subject line “Are You In The Back-To-School Spirit Yet?” might elicit a groan from consumers. After all, many schools around the country finished lessons mere days prior in late June and few consumers like a pushy marketer. But it’s a different year—and that message from backpack marketer LeSportSac and others like it are resonating with parents and kids craving a sense of normal.
“Pretty much every kid in America is going to be back to in-person school,” says Greg Revelle, chief marketing officer of Kohl’s. “What was an uncertain environment last year, now we know and people are excited about it.” He notes that the department store chain is planning to be much more aggressive in its back-to-school marketing as a result.
Retailers including Dick’s Sporting Goods and OshKosh B'gosh and others are also betting big on the season. They’re marketing earlier, spending more, and experimenting with different initiatives, such as a “Lock In” for influencers at a Dick’s store. Bed Bath & Beyond just unveiled its latest private-label brand, Squared Away, a collection focused on storage and organization for homes like dorm rooms, as well as its “College, Happier” marketing campaign for students returning to universities.