768% Sales Lift in Frozen Pancake and Other Back-to-School Data Trends

The first day back to school is notoriously nerve-wracking and exciting for kids and parents alike, but it is highly anticipated this year after a tumultuous year and a half of navigating the COVID-19 landscape.   

With increased reopenings, people are eager to return to school, previous routines and more.   

We analyzed sales and promotion data to identify trends and explore how your brand can use this data for future campaign planning.  

Promotions Activations¹

Our analysis found that peanut butter experienced a huge lift in promotion activations last year in anticipation of back-to-school, showing a 244.9% increase in activations compared to 2019. Not only is peanut butter a beloved ingredient for packed school lunches by consumers, it is also a great product for after-school snacks and breakfasts year-round.  Additionally, as consumers are starting fresh with new routines and are potentially going back to the office, peanut butter is great to have on hand for on-the-go smoothies, as a pre- or post-workout source of protein and healthy fats and more.  

Iced coffee also experienced a 198% rise in coupon activations last year during the back-to-school time. As consumers are their morning routines, ready-to-go iced coffee can be their saving grace. Campaigns showing how at-home iced coffee can be a time saver or DIY coffee recipes can inspire shoppers during the back-to-school season and beyond. 

Regardless of the season, hydration is key! Bottled water saw an 83% increase in coupon activations during the back-to-school time last year. Bottled water is a staple for many, but it also experiences a rise as consumers begin to pack lunches, return to the gym or focus on building better habits. 

Breakfast Favorites See Significant Sales Lifts²

Our analysis identified that many frozen products experienced sales lifts last year at back-to-school as shoppers sought products with longevity. 

Last year, breakfast favorites like frozen pancakes (768%), frozen toaster pastries (50%), frozen french toast (42%), frozen breakfast entrée egg (42%) and frozen breakfast sausage sandwich (31%) all experienced sales lift during the back-to-school period of 2020 compared to 2019. As shoppers prepare for back-to-school this year, we anticipate these products to increase in sales once again—especially as shoppers look to quicker solutions when rushing to the office, gym or the bus stop.  

It isn’t only the first meal of the day that shoppers turn to frozen solutions during back-to-school. Frozen calzones (111%), chicken tenders (53%), frozen french fries (35%) and chicken nuggets (30%) all saw a sales increase at this time in 2020 compared to 2019. Microwavable options are great for lunches, and they can also be useful to consumers in the coming months who are finally organizing play dates again or eager to host friends over after a long period of isolation.  

Sanitation-related products like hand sanitizer (769%), trial size liquid hand soap (327%), rubbing alcohol (66%) and liquid hand soap (57%) saw a rise in sales last year as kids got ready to return to school. Despite the rise in vaccinations, people may still be cautious about returning to their everyday routines and being exposed to a variety of germs once again.  

Back-to-School Trends and Opportunities³

School lunch items like Juice boxes, lunch combos, bread and lunchmeat see the largest increases in sales leading up the return to classes, with sales lifts between 5% and 15%.  Additionally, shoppers who buy lunch combos were 10 times more likely to buy yogurt, but fruit snacks and apple sauce were also commonly purchased in tandem as well. 

The back-to-school season can be big for brands, as savings on lunch items and school supplies tend to go up by 50%+ compared to other months in the year. Juices typically lead the lunch category, with double the savings in August, and pens lead in school supplies, with almost quadruple the savings in August.

School supplies sales also typically go up 60% or more in August, compared to other months in the year.  Markers account for 30% of those category sales, followed by glue 21%. 

These trends apply to school prep and also be can be extended to shoppers going back-to-office, back-to-routine and general lifestyle reorganizing to help people restructure their habits as we enter back into in-person activities. 

As consumers prepare for the return to routine and much more, shopping and purchase intent data can help identify opportunities and trends to plan and execute successful campaigns.

For more insight into how Quotient can help inform your future campaigns, get in touch with our team at [email protected] or check out our dedicated data and analytics page 



  1. Quotient Internal Data (Aug 17, 2020 to Sept 13, 2020 vs. Jan 1, 2020 to Aug 16, 2020 and Sept 14, 2020 to Dec 31, 2020) 
  2. Quotient Internal Reporting (July 1, 2019 to Sept 30, 2019 vs. July 1, 2020 to August 30, 2020) 
  3. Quotient Internal Reporting (Aug 2017 vs. Jan to July/Sept to Dec 2017; Aug 2018 vs. Jan to July/Sept to Dec 2018; Aug 2019 vs. Jan to July/Sept to Dec 2019)