‘Back to school’ feeling persists no matter how old you are, eBay Advertising finds


One in four (27%) consumers plan to set fresh intentions this September, to mark the start of a new school year. That’s according to new research published today by eBay Advertising, which is advising retailers to tap into the ‘back to school’ feeling to help drive sales as the recession hits.  

And with four in 10 (40%) expecting to spend more in the next three months than they did over the past three, and 30% saying they want to be inspired by brands as they look for ways to reinvent themselves, now is the perfect time for retailers to ramp up their engagement.   

This year’s top resolution is to be more active (33%), closely followed by eating more healthily (32%), being more organised (23%), and looking our best (20%). And insights into previous shopping behaviours of eBay’s 32m monthly users suggest that these resolutions are more than just lip service.  

Last year, searches on ebay.co.uk for ‘nutribullet’, ‘yoga mat’ and ‘gym leggings’  shot up overnight on 1st September, by 41%, 26% and 22% respectively, as healthy intentions were put into practice. Similarly, searches for ‘mattress’ and ‘bed linen’ bounced on the turn of the month – up 16% and 19%, suggesting that sleep was starting to be prioritised after the hot summer months, as the beginning of Autumn prompted people to think about nesting.  

eBay’s insights also revealed a renewed focus on organisation, likely a product of the annual stationary purchases that are inked into our brains. On 1st September last year, searches for ‘planner’ and ‘diary’ each increased by 22%, while searches for ‘notebook’ rose by 19%.  

While the sentiment to start afresh is strongest amongst 16-24 year olds (likely due to the volumes of this age group heading to university or starting their first full time jobs), as many as one in ten aged over 55 feel the same – suggesting that, for some of us, the new term mindset never grows old.  

Harmony Murphy, head of UK advertising at eBay, said: “When it comes to what consumers are looking for at this time of year, there is a clear focus on self-reinvention – presenting an unmissable moment for retailers to engage. However, while popular purchases revolve around our health, looks and productivity, it’s important to remember that everyone will take a different approach to reinventing themselves. Ventures don’t get much more personal than this. Retailers should refrain from a one size fits all approach and ensure their marketing campaigns are based on the freshest data available, to ensure they’re engaging audiences with messages that will really resonate with them and their current mindsets.”