School Supplies Flat Lay
May 19, 2022

Back-to-School Series: Insights to Inform Your School Supplies Party

Crayons and notebooks and pens, oh my! It’s almost summer break for students, but marketers planning back-to-school launches still have a lot to consider after the final bell of the year rings.

Crayons and notebooks and pens, oh my! It’s almost summer break for students, but marketers planning back-to-school launches still have a lot to consider after the final bell of the year rings.

Read on to learn how AdAdapted’s grocery list app data analysis can help advertisers understand the seasonal trends in school supply products' through their popularity on shoppers' digital lists.

Making Lists and Checking Them Twice

Some might say back-to-school time is a holiday season for kids, with students selecting brand new gear and supplies to kick off the school year. However, parents and caregivers are often juggling multiple supply lists to help prepare their children for school and help stock-up teachers’ classrooms. 

Reviewing add-to-list data from the past year, we found that last August had the largest number of cumulative list transactions for typical back-to-school supply list items, including crayons, binders, pencils, notebooks, and pens. A slight upward trend also occurred during the beginning of 2022, which correlates with a refresh in supplies as the new year begins. Conversely, March through June exhibited a steady decline. Finally, an uptick in mid-summer demonstrated that list-makers were thinking ahead to the new school year.

List transactions, 2021, demonstrate an August increase in traditional school supply purchases. 

Binder Finders

As much as we live in a digital world, students continue to organize papers using the age-old method: binders. The below graph illustrates yearly trends in the term “binder” on grocery app lists, which exhibited marked increases during the back-to-school season over other items.

While peaking in 2019, we saw a contrasting drop-off to “binders” in 2020, notably because of the pandemic and decreases in in-person schooling. Conversely, 2021 found an uptick, not returning to the previous 2019 levels. Following the trend-line from 2022, it will be interesting to note if “binders” decline in popularity during the upcoming back-to-school season, as paper management becomes less necessary in the digital classroom.

“Binder,” as a grocery app list item, exhibits a pronounced spike during the end of summer. 

Popularity Contest

Although “binder” as a list item shows a big seasonal spike on shoppers’ grocery lists, it’s only number five in the cumulative yearly add-to-list popularity. “Notebooks” outrank all school/office supply items added to shoppers’ lists, with “markers,” “tape,” and “folders” coming in at two, three, and four. An office and classroom must-have, “calendars” ranks number six, while “pens,” “paper,” “push pins,” and “crayons” round out the top ten of non-branded supplies on shopping lists.

The top five brands that shoppers’ are adding to their grocery lists include Scotch at number one, with their varieties of adhesive products. Sharpie markers and pens come at number two (often topping teachers’ wish lists). Post-it brands ranked third, with Expo brand dry erase markers in the number four spot. Finally, Crayola is added to lists more frequently than any other art-focused brand and comes at number five on shopping lists. 

While shoppers replenish their school and office supplies year-round, late summer’s back-to-school season is predictably time to stuff the backpacks and outfit teachers’ classrooms. 

So, whether you are an advertiser looking for back-to-school information to support your ad strategy, or a brand planning seasonal campaign budget, AdAdapted has the insights that can help validate your approach, no matter the CPG category.

To learn even more about other seasonal items that shoppers are adding to their mobile app lists or how to get your branded product in front of individuals primed to buy, contact us at

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