August 25, 2021

Juice Boxes, Granola Bars, and Lunchables… What Will Be on the List This Back-to-School Season?

Do you know how your brand will perform this back-to-school season? With hybrid classes in session, parents have changed the frequency they shop for kids’ lunch and snack items. Brand loyalty is also up in the air following a school year in which parents’ and kids’ habits were disrupted. As a result, marketers face uncertain outcomes heading into one of the busiest shopping seasons of the year.

Thankfully, the data available from mobile grocery lists allows marketers to visualize trends and shopping behaviors in real time. By looking at the products parents are adding to their digital grocery list, AdAdapted is able to share their add-to-list habits and report on year-over-year outcomes. Let’s jump into an analysis of back-to-school items on digital grocery lists!


When reviewing the add-to-list performance of back-to-school items, the first thing that jumps out is an overall decline in year-over-year performance across many school related products. While many schools returned to in-person learning during 2020 and 2021, the impact of school closures nationwide was significant enough to ensure that items like juice boxes, granola bars, GoGurt, and Lunchables did not recover to their performance levels from 2019.

As one would expect, many back-to-school items spike throughout August and September. Additionally, these items perform well in January as students return from winter breaks and around holidays such as Halloween, Valentine’s Day, and St. Patrick’s Day when classes host parties.

Back to School Snacks Chart

January spikes are typically more pronounced than those in August and September because schools across the country return to classes on a more uniform schedule than at the start of the year. In 2020, some products did not experience their spikes until September, possibly due to schools going virtual or delaying start dates.


Juice Boxes

A common trend seen in school related items is evidenced in the performance of juice boxes. The rate at which consumers have been adding juice boxes to their lists has not recovered since a steep drop off in February and March of 2020.

Back to School Juice Boxes

Juice boxes typically have an increased presence on grocery lists from March through May and August through October. Many parents have likely foregone purchasing juice boxes with no need to pack them in their kids’ lunches, but may quickly return to pre-Covid levels if schools stay open for in-person learning.

Granola Bars

Granola bars are another product that typically experiences a back-to-school rise. They also experience highs in the early months of the year as shoppers begin diets prompted by New Year’s resolutions.

Back to School Granola Bars

This pattern has continued through 2021, albeit at lower rates as shoppers have decreased consumption of on-the-go items.



Like most other branded grocery items during Covid, GoGurt experienced a drop off in add-to-list volumes. However, this decrease was comparatively more gradual when compared to other brands and products.

Back to School GoGurt

Gogurt’s list presence is currently much lower than at the same point in 2019 and 2020.


Unlike other products and brands, Lunchables have managed to rebound and are currently maintaining add-to-list levels similar to those of 2019 and 2020.

Back to School Lunchables

While the reasons for Lunchables remaining relatively insulated from declines are uncertain, it could possibly be a result of parents needing to rely on quick, familiar meals for their children while working from home.


With replenishment rates below 2019 and 2020, advertisers should be reminding  parents to buy products that their kids will need as in-person classes continue to open up in the fall. Many shoppers’ familiarity with previously preferred items will have declined due to lack of consumption for multiple back-to-school seasons. As a result, this fall will be a crucial time for marketers seeking to maintain brand loyalty and beat out competitors.

With all this in mind, brands need to ensure that they reach the head of household shoppers as they plan their grocery trips for in-store recall. When examining spend, marketers should ensure that they are reaching target audiences while they are in a grocery state of mind.

Are you looking for a solution that will give you access to the grocery-minded mobile in-app audience?

AdAdapted has curated a proprietary network of grocery shoppers who use mobile grocery shopping apps to build their list and shop for groceries. Our network includes 110MM+ grocery-minded consumers. By showing ads in grocery list apps, AdAdapted seamlessly fits into the mobile app experience and can drive sales, engagement, and a consistent user experience.

Want to capture the mobile audience for your brand? Schedule a demo.

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