Schools are reopening again after a year online. Computers and tablets are getting replaced with pens and pencils, kitchen table lunches will shift to cafeteria tables with friends, and Zoom lessons will become in-person classrooms.

Given the changes of 2020, the stress of virtual schooling, and kids longing for social interactions, Disney Ad Sales surveyed Disney Parents to understand the following:

  • How did COVID-19 impact school in 2020?
  • What are expectations around the return to in-person school?
  • What will back-to-school shopping/advertising look like?

Rethinking In-Person Schooling with a COVID-Safe Mindset

School was different, but there were still silver linings. School was mostly virtual for students of all grade levels this past year. In fact, 40% of elementary school students, 46% of middle school students, and 44% of high school students report having learned mostly or entirely via e-learning. While live streaming of classes and digital learning packets became the norm, students experienced distractions at home, missed their friends, and lost motivation.

Despite the challenges, the positives of virtual schooling for kids/parents has been spending more time together, relaxed schedules, and learning technological skills.

Disney parents have shared…

“It has really brought us closer together and I’ve been more hands on with my child’s education.”

“My son has learned new technical skills and is better with time management.”

“Less stressful mornings, able to sleep in, more time together, no commute.”

Parents also recognize that teachers’ jobs have been harder than ever and appreciate that teachers are understanding of students’ situations.

Disney Parents are Optimistic About In-Person Schooling Resuming for Fall 2021

We’re all navigating through these unprecedented times and understanding a “new normal.” But, while things may be different, there is a growing optimism around the return of in-person schooling for the Fall 2021 school year.

It’s also no surprise after this past year that health and safety is still top of mind for everyone. Disney Parents and their kids are concerned about the risk of COVID-19 spreading in school, student hygiene, and vaccination requirements with in-person schooling. However, they are hopeful schools will continue providing clear communication around COVID-19 safety measures to ensure a safe return to in-person schooling.

Back-to-School Shopping Traditions Continue

There is no greater feeling than going back-to-school shopping to pick up favorite snacks, colorful folders, and new backpacks. This upcoming school year is no different! Back-to-school shopping “is a go” for Disney Parents and their kids.

Parents do not plan to skimp out on getting their kids the latest back-to-school gear. In fact, the majority of Disney Parents plan on spending the same amount, and one-third of Disney Parents plan on spending more for back-to-school shopping this year compared to previous years.

Back-to-school shopping plans are set to happen in July/August. While online shopping became the norm during COVID-19, parents are planning on primarily shopping in-store at a mix of large retailers with their children to get the full back-to-school shopping experience.

COVID-19 Protective Supplies Are Being Added to Shopping Lists This Year

Alongside the traditional school items like pens/pencils, paper, and clothes, COVID-19 protective supplies are also being added to shopping lists. Parents want to make sure their kids are equipped with masks and sanitizer as they head back into the classroom.

Back-to-School Advertising Expectations Have Shifted

Disney Parents find inspiration for school purchases through back-to-school ads. Back-to-school advertisements help Disney Parents find out about new products, get deals and generate excitement for the upcoming school year. Furthermore, they are more likely to take action after seeing ads around back-to-school.

Back-to-School Ads Lead Disney Parents to…

Now more than ever, parents are appreciative of education systems and teachers. Disney Parents think it’s important for brands to be truthful and genuine in their back-to-school ads and want companies to incorporate prosocial messaging around supporting teachers, schools, and education systems.

Back-to-School Shopping Ads are the Perfect Way to Reach Disney Parents

Disney Digital Parents are a Valuable Back-to-School Target

With the new school year right around the corner, parents are gearing up to hit the stores and are ready to research the latest products/services they see in advertisements. And you may wonder how powerful these back-to-school ads are? Well, we’ve seen that Disney Digital Parents* are more likely than the general population to take action after seeing back-to-school ads. Back-to-school ads help guide their purchases and get their kids (and their entire families) excited about the upcoming school year.

Disney Digital Parents also value retailer reputation and ease when making their purchases. They shared that back-to-school ads help find deals (44%), learn about more products (42%), research something in an ad (37%), find the latest supplies (32%) and build excitement about school (29%).

In Summary

Gearing Up for Back-to-School

  • Back-to-school for Fall 2021 will look different than previous school years, but Disney Parents are optimistic about the return to in-person learning.
  • Disney Parents plan to continue back-to-school shopping traditions with their kids – but COVID-19 safety supplies are being added to shopping lists.
  • When it comes to back-to-school ads, Disney Parents, especially Disney Digital Parents, find inspiration and take action after seeing those ads.

Source: Touchstone Panel, Back to School (Parents & Kids), May 2021.

Note: “Disney Parents” consists of respondents who are part of Disney AIC/Touchstone Research Panel who are Parents of children in K-12th grade.

*Note: Disney Digital Parent Property Users = Visit the websites or apps associated with any of the 6 Disney networks weekly or more often.