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Sales News South Africa

TikTok back-to-school Playbook: Global trends relevant for SA

TikTok aims to play a pivotal role in driving sales and shaping shopping behaviours for the Western back-to-school season. The newly released TikTok back-to-school Playbook provides valuable data and trends, primarily from the US, that can be effectively adapted for the South African market.

This playbook is a potential resource to engage with students and parents, transforming school supply lists into exciting shopping experiences.

TikTok's impact on back-to-school shopping

In 2023, TikTok saw over 300,000 user videos with the hashtag #BackToSchool during August alone, which is the month before the school year begins in the US. This trend is expected to grow in 2024, with parents and students turning to the platform for inspiration and recommendations. TikTok's internal data highlights a significant increase in videos and engagement, showcasing the platform's influence on purchasing decisions.

TikTok back-to-school Playbook: Global trends relevant for SA

Key trends and insights

1. Early shopping trends:
  • 29% of parents in the US begin their back-to-school shopping in July, with 44% planning to start even earlier in 2024. In South Africa, early shopping can be encouraged to take advantage of promotional periods and avoid last-minute rushes.
  • The peak shopping period in the US occurs in August, aligning with South Africa's back-to-school period in January, making it a prime time for brands to launch their campaigns.

2. Ongoing purchases:

  •  79% of US parents continue to buy back-to-school products even after the school year starts, with 28% frequently making post-season purchases. This trend can be mirrored in South Africa, where ongoing needs for school supplies and clothing persist throughout the academic year.

3. Discovery to purchase journey:

  • TikTok drives discovery, with 63% of US users finding education-related products on the platform. Similarly, South African parents and students are increasingly turning to social media for product recommendations.
  • 72% of US parents report that their children have recommended brands or products seen on TikTok, a trend that is likely to resonate in South Africa as well.
  • 42% of US parents have purchased education-related products or services as a result of TikTok, demonstrating the platform's strong influence on purchasing decisions.

Popular categories and considerations

Top categories for back-to-school purchases on TikTok include office supplies, clothing, food and beverages, personal care products, tech, and beauty items. When shopping, parents prioritise factors such as price, product quality, promotions, trusted brands, and product reviews. These considerations resonate strongly in the South African market, where affordability and quality are critical decision-making factors. Brands that focus on these aspects in their marketing strategies can effectively capture the attention of South African consumers during the back-to-school season.

Engaging content and creators

Users on TikTok are particularly interested in content such as tips and hacks, product reviews, daily routines, new trends, and expert advice. Collaborating with creators who align with these interests can significantly enhance brand visibility and engagement. Read the PlayBook here.

About Karabo Ledwaba

Karabo Ledwaba is a Marketing and Media Editor at Bizcommunity and award-winning journalist. Before joining the publication she worked at Sowetan as a content producer and reporter. She was also responsible for the leadership page at SMag, Sowetan's lifestyle magazine. Contact her at
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