Best Back-to-School 2016 Trends: Emoji Lunch Boxes and Skorts

New notebooks, freshly sharpened pencils, and spiffy clothes shopping can only mean one thing — lots of kids are heading back to school. We decided to examine the online product browsing and buying of goods related to the season. For school year ’16 – ’17, what did we find?

Length of Season

  • Back to school is really a three-month phenomenon: browsing starts in June, rises in July and stays at high levels through August. Conversions reach their highest point at the end of July and stay steady through August.

Top Purchased Back-to-School Supplies

  • The top purchased product for all of back to school is the backpack: in August, their sales are 8 times the average daily sales in the category in June.
  • Lunchboxes are second at 5 times the average. Every year, kids make a statement about their allegiance to pop culture with the image on their lunchboxes. While “Star Wars,” “Batman” and “Minions” are often searched for types, they are bested by “Emoji.”  Unfortunately, there is no detail about whether we are talking the simple happy face, the happy face with heart or one of the legions of other variations.
  • In terms of school supplies searched for: #1 is Backpacks at 24 times the number of searches of the average product in the category. The top 25 school supplies searched for includes evidence of the electronics age: laptops, notebooks, and computers, but old school devices like calculators and even arcs – which we think are those plastic things used in geometric class — make the list.

Top Searches in Apparel

  • Top searched for clothing terms reveal some strong preferences. The weather will be getting chillier, but “cardigans” and “shrugs” are more often searched for more than “sweaters.”  “Skort” is the 4th most commonly searched for back to school apparel term – a full 7 places ahead of “skirt”. These hybrid short/skirt wearables are often favored by school girls for their modesty in active situations.  “Leggings” are searched for more than “jeans,” and the much maligned “jegging” fails to make the top 25 but still makes the top 100. “Joggers,” those pants that made “sweat pants” legitimate to wear on casual Friday, outpace “pants” for searches.


  • Well before the season begins, marketers would do well to review their product imagery to make sure it gives consumers the fullest possible picture of the products. In a category like apparel, 62% of online shoppers rated product photography to be a top influence on the purchase.
  • In that same survey, 55% of online shoppers overall said that ratings and reviews were a top purchase influence. Retailers need to make the process of creating them and navigating to them as simple as possible. For marketers, the length of the season indicates the need to maintain an always-on strategy with their online advertising initiatives. Performance marketing techniques like those offered by Criteo Brand Solutions can drive attention to highly sought after and competitive categories like backpacks throughout the season.

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