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How to Reach Parents During Back-to-School Season

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It may feel like summer has just begun, but parents and students are already preparing for the new school year by starting their shopping now! We surveyed Disney Parents1 of elementary, middle, and high school kids to uncover their back-to-school shopping secrets and how advertisers can elevate this memorable experience for consumers.

This is a significant opportunity as 95% plan on back-to-school shopping soon, and 92% agree that the activity feels like an important part of their routine before each school year. In fact, one Disney Parent described back-to-school shopping as being a rite of passage into the next school year”.

As this creates a key selling window for all types of brands, we dug deeper to understand how Disney Parents (including those who watch Hulu and in turn may be reached via Hulu Ad Manager) view the back-to-school shopping experience, when and how they plan to shop, and opinions toward back-to-school advertising.

Back-to-School Shopping is A Bonding Experience

Disney Parents view back-to-school shopping as more than just running errands. “It’s an opportunity for me to bond with my children, have conversations about the upcoming school year, and make new memories,” reported one parent. This sentiment is shared by 85% of Disney Parents, who think of back-to-school shopping as a way to spend quality time with their children.


85% of Disney Parents see back-to-school shopping as a way to spend quality time with their children


Multiple Disney Parents also expressed the importance of self-expression as their children transition from one grade to the next. Additional comments from parents included: Back-to-school shopping lets me see how their interests have changed or stayed the same” and It’s a fun activity to let my child choose what they want to help them express their own personality at school”.

ADVERTISER TIP: Create ads that depict back-to-school shopping as a bonding experience that allows parents to better understand their child’s individual, unique style and personality. 

Shopping Has Begun — Both Online and In-Store

The majority of Disney Parents start thinking about their children’s back-to-school needs as early as July and do the actual shopping through August. With so much to purchase, parents are looking for flexibility in the ways they shop: 96% of Disney Parents are likely to shop in-store this year, 90% are likely to shop online, and 61% are likely to shop online and pick up in-store. 


Disney Parents are likely to shop in-store and online for 2023 back-to-school shopping


While getting a head start on back-to-school shopping can alleviate some stress for Disney Parents, there are other things brands can offer that will make their shopping experience more enjoyable. At the top of the list? Free shipping. 


what companies can do to improve the back-to-school shopping experience


During this hectic time of year, anything brands can do to create a seamless shopping experience will go a long way in the eyes of Disney Parents. As one surveyed parent stated, Once we get past the fun stuff (that tends to be the things that show [my son’s] personality), it becomes a chore and ends up being an online experience stemming from a sheet from the school system”. 

ADVERTISER TIP: It’s not too late to launch your back-to-school campaign and get your message in front of consumers during this critical selling period. With Hulu Ad Manager, you can launch a campaign within minutes once your ad is approved.2 Leverage our robust targeting capabilities to reach parents by demo, location, interests, and more depending on type of ad. 

Disney Parents Actually Like Back-to-School Ads

Not only are 81% of Disney Parents favorable towards back-to-school ads, but approximately one in five are actively looking for ads to tell them what they should be purchasing. People are actively watching not only their favorite shows on streaming TV but also the ads that play alongside. 


Disney Parents like back-to-school ads


We took a look at a few common back-to-school categories to see what parents are specifically looking to purchase this year – and, consequently, what will likely catch their eye in an ad. When it comes to clothing and footwear, sneakers topped the list (94%), followed by casual tops (82%) and jeans or trousers (76%). For school supplies, it’s no surprise that notebooks and pens or pencils are top priorities (89%), though three in four parents will also be looking for new backpacks and lunchboxes. Finally, we asked Disney Parents about the food and beverage choices they’re planning on making, and most are leaning in a health-conscious direction. Fresh produce, grains and cereals, and bottled water are at the top of the list, while candy, soft drinks and energy drinks seem less popular with this audience.

ADVERTISER TIP: Hulu offers a diverse portfolio of premium content for passionate audiences from all demographics – and we mean passionate. In 2022, 38% of all hours watched were during a binge session.3 With Hulu Ad Manager, you can reach these highly engaged viewers, including the parents who will be looking to your back-to-school ads for inspiration, in a trusted and brand-safe environment across all devices. 


Back-to-School shopping is a unique shared experience for parents and children alike. It’s a time of excitement and memory-making that brands can tap into by being part of the journey. As a Hulu Ad Manager advertiser, you have the opportunity to quickly and easily get your message in front of this audience who’s willing to listen, showcase your product or service on a platform with some of TV’s biggest shows, and join in on the annual tradition so cherished by both parents and their children.

Don’t miss out on this window – get started on your Hulu Ad Manager campaign today!


SOURCE: Disney Dialogue Survey – Back-to-School 2023, April 2023

1Parents within the Disney Dialogue Panel with children in elementary, middle and high school. Results are among parents who said “yes” to going back-to-school school shopping in 2023.

2All ads uploaded to Hulu Ad Manager will be reviewed for compliance with Hulu’s Ad Policies Guidelines, and Specifications. The review process can take up to three business days.

3Hulu internal data, CY22 Binge Metrics Weekly Dashboard



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