Back to School – Diving into Writing Instruments

    Tanmay Singhi Business Analyst
    August 16, 2023

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    What makes the Back to School period important?

    Back to School (BTS) is typically the second largest spending event for families after the holiday season: deals drive a lot of volume! With prices of school supplies increasing 23.7% in the past two years, BTS shoppers’ need for a bargain is even more palpable. 

    July & August become the most important time of the year in this category, between 20-25% of the annual spend happens during this time, this is caused by events such as Prime day and Back to School falling occurring around the same time.

    July vs June 

    MoM change

    Let’s Dive Deeper

    Using CommerceIQ’s Category Leaderboard, we’ve deconstructed the current market landscape based on sales and search behavior. Let’s look at how shoppers are searching and buying in the  writing instruments category! All data that follows is based on scraped information on Amazon.

    Pens are a clear leader both in terms of searches from customers, as well as actual revenue., Pencils are second in search interest, but do not drive as much revenue due to lower ASPs.

      Topic Wise Share Split

    Top Brands in this Category

    What are shoppers searching for?

    Amongst general terms in writing supplies, the most common search terms are around school supplies, including the words school, teacher, student and class clubbed together. Winning keywords around school is very important during this period.

    Here are the top 10 terms around School during the same period.

    Search Terms MoM Growth

    in Volume

    school supplies 515.62%
    back to school supplies 508.96%
    classroom must haves 79.92%
    school supplies for kids 382.00%
    aesthetic school supplies 123.77%
    pens for school 1247.53%
    school supplies for teen girls 140.78%
    markers for school 640.99%
    erasers for school 876.72%
    cute school supplies 256.73%

    Pens: Deep Dive

    Diving deeper into pens: let’s take a look at the competitive landscape! 

    These 5 brands stand out as clear leaders in this category, leading both in terms of organic presence as well as revenue. Papermate and Sharpie are also investing heavily during the back to school period, acquiring 22% and 45% share in paid share of voice. This coincides with their best seller and revenue growth over the past month. Amazonbasics is also a contender in this space with high organic presence.

    Gel Pens are the most popular subcategory within Pens, accounting for 60% of pens revenue share.

    From a color standpoint, multicolor and black are the most popular.This is clearly reflected in the category best sellers. 5 of the the top 10 bestsellers are black pens, while 4 are for multi-colored packs!

    Who are the shoppers and what do they buy ?


    This is a high intent audience type looking for a variety of pens from general pens to coloring, sketching, highlighting and much more.
    Essential Search terms: school supplies, back to school supplies, classroom must haves

    Working professionals

    These types of shoppers generally look for small sets of pens generally Blue/ Black in color for note taking or official documentation.
    Essential Search terms: office supplies, office supplies and stationery, office pens

    Schools & Other Institutions

    This type of audience is looking to buy products in bulk, buying in quantities of 100 to 200+.
    Essential Search terms: mechanical pencils bulk, pens bulk, bulk pencils

    Pricing Architecture

    From a unit price perspective (per pen), 70% of sales happen at a price below $1.3 per pen.  12 packs are the most common pack size, including half the top 10 bestsellers in this category. 

    Achieve Category Growth with CommerceIQ!

    CommerceIQ combines Market Share with Search and Share of Voice to give you the most comprehensive category insights and strategies to outperform your competition. Reach out to us for a demo!

    *All insights are based on publicly available data on used in Category Leaderboard

    Tanmay Singhi Business Analyst


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