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BACK TO SCHOOL 2022

The coolest brand initiatives this year

Despite inflation, back-to-school spending remains steady year-over-year, with back-to-college spending expected to increase 4% to $73.9 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. Spending on school clothes and supplies is on track to match (and maybe even surpass!) last year's record of $37 billion – and brands are vying for their share of that money. Today we’re taking a look at three very different back-to-school campaigns from youth retailers this year.

THREDUP

Earlier this month, resale platform ThredUp partnered with Stranger Things star Priah Ferguson to launch the “Fast Fashion Confessional Hotline.” Shoppers can dial 1-855-THREDUP to hear advice from Ferguson on how to quit fast fashion, which is no easy feat for young people who are bombarded with TikTok hauls and #OODs (“outfit of the day”) that encourage constant consumption. According to research from ThredUp, 72% of college students say they have bought fast fashion in the past year and 50% of college students watch weekly fast fashion hauls on social media. Encouragingly, nearly 2 in 3 fast fashion shoppers say they aspire to buy more secondhand fashion – and initiatives like this one could be the push consumers need to change their shopping habits for good.

DICK’S SPORTING GOODS

For its big back-to-school play, Dick’s Sporting Goods turned to Roblox, a platform with 37.1 million users, 54% of which are younger than age 13. The retailer launched “DICK'S Sporting Goods High” with six virtual spaces that feel like gamified versions of your alma mater's halls – users can navigate through locker rooms, gyms, even cafeterias to participate in challenges and obstacle courses (“obbys” in Roblox-speak). The experience rewards players with in-app currency called “style points” that can be used to outfit their avatars in Dick’s gear.

AMERICAN EAGLE

American Eagle’s back-to-school campaign marks the first brand application of TikTok’s SoundOn feature, the music marketing and distribution platform launched earlier this year. The retailer tapped an artist from SoundOn for a custom track, which serves as both the campaign’s anthem and a key part of a hashtag challenge launched by the brand. Creators were tasked with shooting a clip to show off their AE jeans using #AEJeansSoundOn; less than a week after launch, the hashtag has more than 4 billion views. Like Dick’s Sporting Goods, AE is also dabbling in the metaverse for back-to-school with an interactive Roblox performance with one of its music partners.