Trends in Back-to-School Cause Marketing

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SheerID, the only instant online student verification provider, shares annual research regarding back to school trends utilizing cause marketing.

SheerID, the only instant online student verification provider, shares annual research regarding back to school trends utilizing cause marketing. Masses of Millennials, generally defined as the generation born between 1983 and 2000, are swarming back to campuses and school yards this month. 20.4 million college students are currently gearing up for the first day of classes. Back-to-college shoppers alone are expected to spend $53.5 billion dollars this year. Combine that with the additional dollars coming in from the parents of high schoolers and middle school students, and it becomes clear why the Millennial Market is prized by retailers eager to make their Q3 numbers.

Reaching a target audience of techy-saavy, internet super users who are suspicious of online ads and mass media definitely has its challenges. According to recent studies, 83% of Millennials trust socially responsible companies, and over 85% are more likely to purchase from a company that is committed to a cause. Of course, pre-teens and teenagers do not get to make all of their own purchasing decisions. Fortunately for marketers, moms are also firmly in favor of cause marketing campaigns, 92% of moms surveyed want to buy products that benefit a cause.
This year, companies are using cause marketing as a component of their back to school marketing campaigns more than ever. The following list is a compilation of SheerID’s favorite brands aligning with causes.

1 in 4 kids is bullied at some point during their academic career, and 13 million students will be bullied this year in the United States. Some big brands and big stars are standing up to bullies this year by raising awareness about the issue and providing organizations with much-needed resources.

  • Sears, Team Up to Stop Bullying, and the Kardashians
  • Office Depot, Born This Way Foundation, and Lady Gaga
  • Bon Ton & STOMP out Bullying    

76% of millennials feel it is important for brands to be “ecologically conscious.” These companies are going green this back-to-school season.

  •     Radio Shack & Call2Recycle        
  •     Staples’ new in-store recycling program for binders
  •     Paradise Mall & YouChange consumer electronics recycling program

School Supplies
School supply drives are common during the summer months, but these three companies have managed to differentiate themselves by taking things to the next level by partnering with nonprofits.

  •     Groupon, Kits for Kidz (a school supply nonprofit) & Chicago public schools
  •     Dollar Tree & Operation Homefront
  •     Staples,, & Bella Thorne    

Back-to-school help for low-income families
The average family in the US plans to spend $688.62 this year on school clothes and supplies. In this economy, not every family has the money to cover the essentials that kids need before the first day of school. These companies are helping out to provide kids in need with clothes, haircuts, and shoes.

  •     Payless Shoe Source & Catholic Charities Kicks for Kids
  •     Hair Cuttery & Massachusetts Department of Children and Families         
  •     H&M and Good360

Supplies for teachers and school
It is estimated that on average teachers spend $1,000 of their own money every year on classroom supplies to offset school budget cuts and classroom shortages. Corporations and nonprofit organizations are trying to take the burden off our teachers by collecting or donating supplies for schools.

  •     Target’s Take Charge of Education Program to benefit local K-12 schools    
  •     Office Max’s A Day Made Better program & Adopt-a-classroom            
  •     Verizon Wireless school supply drives & local schools    

As Millennials grow up and continue to vote with their dollars, we can expect to see cause marketing campaigns for back-to-school continue to increase, not only in number, but also in terms of complexity and creativity. SheerID facilitates successful cause marketing campaigns online by not only providing the simplest instant identity verification for convenient and fast checkouts for students and teachers, but also by providing nonprofit organizations and their corporate partners with tools to manage and track cause marketing campaigns, often at no cost to the nonprofit. Find out more at

About SheerID
SheerID is the creator of the technology used to transform existing, protected private data into a service that benefits commercial enterprises, nonprofit organizations, and the public, while still keeping the information safe and secure. By acting as a bridge between secure databases, SheerID allows commercial enterprises to accurately, instantly verify whether or not their customer qualifies for a special discount like a student discount. Using the same technology, SheerID can assist nonprofits and associations with cause marketing, member engagement, and corporate partnerships, often at no cost to the nonprofit. SheerID’s plug-in can be configured for any e-commerce website, internal customer sales system, mobile application, or POS.
For more information on SheerID’s services call 855-SheerID to speak directly to a representative, email info(at)sheerid(dot)com, or visit

SOURCES: Cone Cause Evolution Study, Boston Consulting Group, Cone Millennial Cause Study, Stomp Out Bullying, Team Up to Stop Bullying, National Retail Federation, AdAge , SheerID Student Discount Use Survey,

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Jessica Gomez
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