2019 Back-To-School Audit


At one point, the back-to-school “season” was a big deal. Packaging changed out, retailers went crazy and the whole month of August felt like a continuous reminder that kids were going back to school. It was enough to get me to buy new pencils just because. But this year has been a disappointment. Maybe nostalgia is getting the best of me or Halloween has gotten so big it makes back-to-school seem small, but things have changed. Regardless, we hit the usual spots with gear for the new year: Target, Wal-Mart, Kohl’s, and Office Max. Our visits revealed that product design is on board with a major trend of 2019, optimism.

While we love all of the licensed merch that certainly fills the aisles of BTS gear (the hot ones? Fornite, Toy Story, Spirit, Marvel, Pets 2), it’s fun to see design, trends and slogans show us what’s gaining ground with the mainstream, specifically with the school-age set. Optimism, as an umbrella trend, appeared three ways: confidence, magic and happiness.

Theme 1: Confidence

They’ve heard it enough to believe it’s true: Kids are the future. To empower them and remind them, BTS merch encourages kids to “be the change,” “think loud” and “believe you can.”

Theme 2: Magic

Magic isn’t so much about believing in magic or magical transformations but about a way of existing - much like a unicorn. If slogans didn’t get to the magic of this trend, designs reflecting the cosmos or star and unicorn themed things did.

Theme 3: Happiness

Pastel color palettes, rainbows, rainbow-colored pencils and pencil bags gave off a major pick-me-up, all-is-well vibe. It echoes the confectionery, fuzzy feels the ice cream trend has fully embraced.

Back-to-School Packaged Goods

If there is something that gets me in the mood for a season switch, it’s packaging and product that celebrates it. The product “Lunch Notes From Me” took the sticky note to a new level with fun facts, riddles, jokes and stories pre-printed on the note for some added lunchtime fun while Clorox and Sabra reminded parents of their relevance during the season.