Since 2017, we’ve seen brands move up their back-to-school campaign by more than two weeks (Urban Outfitters tweeted about back to school 17 days sooner than it did two years prior, Meijer was 14 days sooner, and Target was 13 days sooner).

On average, consumers are still taking to their own social accounts, expressing their plans to go back-to-school shopping before retailers are announcing their back-to-school campaigns. Nordstrom and Amazon had the widest gap between consumers talking about back-to-school and promoting it themselves (Nordstrom was 27 days and Amazon was 44 days).

While some retailers may feel that they are risking angering consumers by launching too early — as backlash mentions made up 4% of Target’s current back-to-school conversation — that was minimal compared to those talking about their purchases (13%). An additional 11% of Target’s back-to-school conversation stemmed from shoppers positively discussing the in-store displays.

Political leanings were part of this year’s back-to-school conversation. This was most prevalent with Walmart, as consumers were boycotting the store after the shooting in El Paso, Texas. Alternatively, consumers used it as a way to share their love for Target — feeling the retailer better represented their personal beliefs.

New this year is a concern for safety while shopping — with 2% of Target’s conversations stemming from feeling unsafe. While consumers often tied this to the recent Walmart shooting, they had concerns over retailers that allowed concealed carry and feared crowded stores — feeling it could be a potential target for shooters.

Visual below reflects the first consumer mention of shopping for back to school at the specified retailer compared to the initial back-to-school themed post from the retailer’s owned Twitter account — comparing the 2017 to 2019 back-to-school season.

Timeline of the first consumer mention of shopping for back to school at the specified retailer compared to the initial back-to-school themed post from the retailer’s owned Twitter account — comparing the 2017 to 2019 back-to-school season.

 

 

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