Back-to-school shopping trends on Amazon

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This month marks the height of one of the biggest shopping seasons in retail: back-to-school season. Although Amazon’s back-to-school season kicks off around Prime Day, it reaches its peak in August.

A recent Deloitte survey found that, while parents plan to reduce spending on back-to-school clothing and electronics this year, they plan to increase spending on school supplies by 20% year-over-year.

As we mark the beginning of August, here are some of the most important questions for brands and retailers selling back-to-school products on Amazon:

  • What are parents, teachers, faculty, and students buying the most?
  • What trends are driving sales of back-to-school supplies?
  • When will sales in specific back-to-school subcategories hit their peak?
  • Which brands have the most momentum so far?

In this article, we’ll find answers with the help of Jungle Scout Cobalt data.

What are parents and teachers buying most on Amazon?

With parents focusing their spending on school supplies over items like apparel and tech, sales have been on the rise for products like backpacks, folders, and pencils since  late June.

Here are the 10 back-to-school supplies with the most sales on Amazon over the last 30 days:

  • Pencil cases: Up 84%
  • Backpacks: Up 80%
  • Glue/glue sticks: Up 80%
  • Folders: Up 70%
  • Erasers: Up 70%
  • Back-to-school supply kits: Up 68%
  • Colored pencils: Up 63%
  • Pencils: Up 41%
  • Notebooks: Up 37%
  • Highlighters: Up 34%
  • See which keywords are trending on Amazon as parents and teachers shop for school supplies.

    Emerging trend: Back-to-school supply kits

    Currently hitting number 6 on this top 10 list is a trend that sprung to life in 2022 and is still delivering big sales and revenue jumps for brands this year: back-to-school supply kits.

    Moda West has grown market share by 93% in the back-to-school supply kits market over the last 30 days. During that same period, the brand’s sales and revenue have jumped over 150%.

     

    By the first week of August 2022, sales of back-to-school supply kits were up 346% year-over-year.

    It looks like shoppers are seeking out the convenience of the kits this year, too: By mid-July, sales were up 68% year-over-year and revenue was up more than 50%.

    Let’s see how that translates for the leading back-to-school supply kit brands. In the last 30 days on Amazon:

    • Sales of School Supply Boxes supply kits are up 718%
    • Sales of U Brands supply kits are up 96%
    • Sales of Trail Maker supply kits are up 90%
    • Sales of Learning Resources supply kits are up 69%
    • Sales of Crayola supply kits are up 59%

     

    With sales of these supply kits and other back-to-school items already on an upward trajectory, when can the brands and retailers that sell them expect to see seasonal sales hit their peak?

    Cobalt data on 2022 sales trends shows that, while there was some variation in when different back-to-school products hit their peak throughout August, a majority saw sales reach their seasonal summit during the first two weeks of the month.

    Here are the brands that are leading by market share in the top 10 back-to-school product categories over the last 30 days.

    Pencil Cases

    Easthill is leading in market share for pencil cases, and has seen a 110% revenue increase in this market.

    Top 3 market share leaders for pencil cases on Amazon

    • Easthill – 19%
    • Sooez – 6%
    • Cicimelon – 5%

    Backpacks

    Simple Modern has sped to the lead for backpacks, growing its market share by nearly 200%.

    Top 3 market share leaders for backpacks on Amazon

    • Simple Modern – 8%
    • Jansport – 5%
    • Bluefairy – 3%

    Glue & Glue Sticks

    Household name Elmer’s is dominating market share for glue and glue sticks on Amazon, with over 10 times the market share of its closest competitor.

    Top 3 market share leaders for glue on Amazon

    • Elmer’s – 71%
    • Gorilla – 7%
    • Angolibi – 5%

    Folders

    For folders, smaller brand Store Smart has captured nearly 20% market share, putting it in the top spot over the last month.

    Top 3 market share leaders for folders on Amazon

    • Store Smart – 18%
    • Amazon Basics – 11%
    • Jam Paper – 8%

    Erasers

    Paper Mate and Mr. Pen are neck-and-neck in the erasers market on Amazon, with only a 1% market share difference between them.

    Top 3 market share leaders for erasers on Amazon

    • Paper Mate – 29%
    • Mr. Pen – 28%
    • Pentel – 9%

    Back-to-School Supply Kits

    Crayola is well ahead of market share competitors in the back-to-school supply kits market, claiming over 50% market share.

    Top 3 market share leaders for back-to-school supply kits on Amazon

    • Crayola – 53%
    • Learning Resources – 10%
    • U Brands – 6%

    Colored Pencils

    Crayola is also the top market share leader for colored pencils, with Prismacolor not far behind. Together, the two brands own 70% market share.

    Top 3 market share leaders for colored pencils on Amazon

    • Crayola – 40%
    • Prismacolor – 30%
    • Amazon Basics – 5%

    Pencils

    In the pencils market, one-fifth of the market share belongs to Ticonderoga, putting it at the top of the list.

    Top 3 market share leaders for pencils on Amazon

    • Ticonderoga – 20%
    • BIC – 12%
    • Paper Mate – 11%

    Notebooks

    With a product selection that includes left-handed notebooks, recycled notebooks, and an app that lets note-takers scan handwritten pages to their phone, Roaring Spring has captured more than a quarter of the market share in the notebooks market.

    Top 3 market share leaders for notebooks on Amazon

    • Roaring Spring – 27%
    • Rocketbook – 9%
    • Five Star – 8%

    Highlighters

    Sharpie claims half of the market share in Amazon’s highlighters market, though Pilot has made impressive gains: in 30 days, its market share for highlighters has grown over 370%.

    Top 3 market share leaders for highlighters on Amazon

    • Sharpie – 50%
    • Pilot – 6%
    • Mr. Pen – 5%

    30-Day Back-to-School Sales Trends on Amazon, by brand

    Are these leading positions paying off for the brands that claim them? The short answer is yes, with some market share leaders experiencing 100%+ sales and revenue boosts in 30 days. Here is how overall sales and revenue are trending for popular brands as back-to-school shopping approaches its peak:

    As back-to-school shopping intensifies, this data reveals insights that can make all the difference for brands and retailers. Parents are shifting spending toward school supplies, driving demand for products like pencil cases, backpacks, glue sticks, and folders, among others.

     

    Brands and retailers can leverage this information to optimize their strategies for the peak of back-to-school season, ensuring they meet consumer preferences and capitalize on merging trends like back-to-school supply kits. By strategically positioning their products and marketing efforts to tailor the preferences of consumers who are shopping differently this back-to-school season, brands and retailers stand to gain a competitive advantage that boosts sales and revenue.

    The product data in this report is representative of the U.S. Amazon market. Market insights on Amazon products were sourced from Jungle Scout Cobalt, an industry-leading market intelligence, advertising optimization, and ecommerce reporting platform powered by nearly 2 billion Amazon data points. Year-over-year comparison data reflects the period of June 18, 2023 – July 17, 2023, as compared to the period of June 18, 2022 – July 17, 2022. 30 day trends data reflects the period of June 18, 2023 – July 17, 2023, as compared to May 19, 2023 – June 17, 2023.

    We encourage you to share, reference, and publish this report’s findings with attribution to “Jungle Scout Cobalt” and a link to this page.

    For more information, specific data requests, media assets, or to reach the report’s authors, please contact us at [email protected].



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