Back-to-School & Sustainability

With consumers expected to spend record amounts for both back-to-school and back-to-college shopping this year (per the National Retail Federation), we sought to understand how sustainability would be woven into consumers shopping experience. We leveraged consumer trends and our social intelligence tool to uncover how consumers are incorporating sustainability into their back-to-school shopping.

Parents are investing in their children’s future

We know that Millennial parents and both Gen Z and Generation Alpha students are thoughtful consumers who are driven by their values and the causes they care about. Parents are more concerned with climate change and sustainability than the average consumer. When it comes to back-to-school shopping, 56% of parents prefer to shop from retailers and brands that offer sustainable shopping options.

“Recyclable” and “Biodegradable” packaging stands out

When it comes to environmental product claims, a few resonate most with consumers. Recyclable and biodegradable packaging stands out, as well as products made from recycled materials and locally sourced items.

Price is a key area of focus for sustainable products

Consumers do not want to choose between affordability and sustainability. To answer this need, Target launched Yoobi Evolve. The new line is sustainably sourced and made with minimal packaging, without compromising color, style, or the ‘you buy Yoobi gives’ brand promise. The collection, available exclusively at Target, featured recycled packaging and materials with minimal plastic for $10 and under.

Shoppers share their sustainable BTS finds online

Shoppers start posting about back-to-school shopping on social media at the end of July, and the largest spikes in online conversation hit the second and third week of August. Online, shoppers having conversations about sustainable back-to-school shopping are using hashtags like #GentlyUsed #Thrift or #ShopLocal.

Brands and retailers respond to consumers’ desire for sustainable back-to-school products

Both Target and Walmart carried various brands and products that prioritized sustainability this season.

Walmart carried two reusable journal brand in their assortment this year, Aeronote and Rocketbook. Aeronote claims to replace over 1,000 single-use pages within the product’s lifespan, while Rocketbook combines the convenience of traditional paper notebooks and planners with the efficiency of digital technology as a reusable notebook.

Target stood for sustainability with their launch of Yoobi Evolve which included a variety of back-to-school accessories that are sustainably sourced and made with minimal packaging. The retailer also incorporated several other sustainable brands into it’s back-to-school assortment, including Room Essentials Recycled Cotton Lunch Totes, Decomposition Notebooks featuring 100% post-consumer-waste recycled paper.


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