Back to School

The passing of Labor Day generally marks the end of summer and the beginning of school. However, for retail brands, the new school year has been on their minds for a while. “Back to school” (BTS) is the second biggest retail sales event of the year, only behind the Christmas and holiday season, and this year, it started earlier than ever.

Due to the importance of the BTS season, we thought it would be interesting to monitor some of the BTS marketing campaigns that were run by major retailers. In particular, we tracked the BTS activity of the following brands:

Here’s a summary of what we found:

  • BTS campaigns generally started in July, with Kohl’s and Target kicking things off in early July. Brands that got off to an early start generally kept up their efforts throughout the summer. Brands that got a later start generally didn’t put in much effort overall. The one exception to this is Sears. They kicked off their campaign around the third week of July, which put them in the middle of the pack in terms of start date, but then they quickly ramped up their efforts and ended up near the top in terms of total messages pushed out.
  • Target adopted a very consistent and well-balanced cross-channel strategy.
  • Kohl’s was consistent and well-balanced on Twitter and Instagram, but did not put out much content on Facebook and YouTube.
  • Macy’s wasn’t really all that active anywhere but they ran a BTS sweepstakes that was effective in driving engagement. As a result, they got a pretty good return on investment.
  • Sears put in a decent amount of effort on all channels, but they didn’t see as high a return on investment compared to the other brands. This is possibly due to the diversity of their product and audience base, much of which is not BTS related.
  • Kmart got a one-day spike on Twitter on August 5, due to the #MoreForSchool “Twitter party” sweepstakes they ran on that day.
  • Walmart was very active on YouTube.


Here are some of the details we collected…

Most BTS Activity by Social Network

Back to School Campaign


1. Sears – 24 posts

2. Kmart – 14 posts

3. Belk – 11 posts



1. Kmart – 180 tweets

2. Sears – 60 tweets

3. Kohl’s – 41 tweets



1. Walmart – 24 videos

2. Target – 11 videos

3-4. Sears, Macy’s – 6-7 videos



1. Kohl’s – 17 photos

2. Sears – 9 photos

3. Target – 7 photos

Most Engagement for BTS Activity by Social Network




1. Macy’s – 23k likes

2-4. JCPenney, Kohl’s, Target – 19-20k likes



1. Kmart – 1.9k retweets

2. Target – 1.4k retweets

3-6. Marshalls, T.J.Maxx, Macy’s, Kohl’s – 280-350 retweets



1. Macy’s – 815k views

2. Walmart – 200k views

3. Kmart – 109k views



1-2. Kohl’s, Target – 22-23k likes

3-4. Macy’s, Walmart – 3.2-3.7k

That wraps up the “back to school” season for the retailers. Now it is time for them to start focusing on the Christmas holiday season. Yikes!

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