graduates standing and smilingSummers fly by, that’s no question, but with the huge number of graduation ceremonies, parties, and the eventual back-to-school panic, they can fly by even quicker.

The season for graduation gift shopping is a long one. Gift-givers start their shopping before the graduation ceremony and others wait until they have a party invitation in hand – not to mention all this varies by regional school calendars. These contrasting shopping habits extend the online shopping season for a few months, rather than a few weeks, like other major shopping seasons.

graph of graduation gifts

The ages of graduates range from 18 (graduating high school), to 22+ (bachelor’s degrees), to graduates 24+ (higher education). While this may seem a daunting task to segment this audience for advertising, it offers a major opportunity to sell a wide range of products to suit each specific age or group.

Graduation gifts for high schoolers can serve a variety of purposes. These gifts can include items that the student might consider more fun than the cash alternative, including specific school spirit wear, dorm decorations, or jewelry. Others may go the more practical route, purchasing the student electronics, a new phone, or a bike to jet around campus.

Gifts for college graduates should reflect this new milestone in their lives. They are likely moving out on their own for the first time, can go out with their friends, and have a new sense of freedom. Gifts for the graduate can include degree specific items, such as an engraved diploma frame or a personalized piece of jewelry. Other gifts can help them while starting out, like housewares for a new apartment, a special bottle of champagne, or travel accessories.

Shopping All Across the Board

Depending on the state, city, and school, many graduation ceremonies occur in mid-May while others are late into June. This provides a huge time period for shoppers to be marketed to, but the key is to keep these customers interested and engaged in specific offers and rewards.

This extended shopping schedule allows advertisers to highlight different items, product groupings, or even new products over many weeks, rather than just one post or email blast that covers the entire event.

Looking Ahead – The Rest of Summer

Traditionally, online shopping slows down the last week of June through the first week of July for many retail verticals, as shoppers take a much-needed break for the July 4th holiday.

heatmap of verticals for back to school

chart of school supplies

But as mid-July hits, shoppers begin to think about back-to-school and the stress and excitement it brings. That’s when big-box stores bring in their back-to-school inventory, online and in store, and kids get excited to get their new school supplies. Mid-July through August is the typical period when people are doing the most back-to-school shopping for classroom items, such as pens, pencils, notebooks, and art supplies. Despite this, there are the few that shop early during the graduation period to beat the mad rush. This is a great opportunity to engage and reward those early shoppers.

uniform chart

Another big element of the back-to-school shopping list includes uniforms. The uniform trend is very telling and cyclical, remaining consistent throughout the years. Unlike school supply shopping, which happens between June and August, uniform shopping is concentrated to just June and July.

Graduation and back-to-school are two of the key retail periods that both advertisers and publishers look to for boosting sales and exposure. These holidays affect a large percentage of the population and happen every year. Although tried and true, there are always new insights to be gained.

Make sure to check back soon for our in-depth back-to-school guide for the 2022-2023 school year. In the meantime, look back at last year’s back-to-school data to get an idea of what to be looking out for.

To keep up to date with insights and strategies from Rakuten Advertising, contact us today.