5 Graduation Marketing Ideas to Try in Your Retail Business [2022 Guide]

As far as holidays and events go, graduation may not be as big a Christmas or Mother’s Day. But overlooking this year’s graduates would mean leaving money on the table. In 2021, the National Retail Federation (NRF) forecasted graduation spending to hit $5.9 billion, with the average consumer spend at $119.44.

These numbers are likely to continue trending up, especially as the world opens back up. 

To help you capitalize on this year’s graduation festivities, we’ve put together a handy list of graduation marketing ideas for retail. 

Check them out!

Lead with empowering messages

Graduation is a major milestone for students and their families alike. It’s an event filled with pride and accomplishment, which is why it’s quite fitting for brands to acknowledge the hard work that graduates have put in and to showcase their stories. 

That’s exactly what Nike did in the following graduation campaign. The brand put the spotlight on Megan Thee Stallion when she graduated from Texas Southern University. Nike recognized Megan  for “successfully navigating her career and education” and created a seasonal collection with her. 

Consider doing something similar in your business. Spotlight inspiring grads in your messaging and put together a collection in line with the themes of graduation. 

Create a graduation-centric store display

Make sure that your graduation displays are on point. Put together a display featuring products that graduates could use or items that would serve as perfect graduation gifts. 

Check out this retail display from the bookstore Vroman’s, which contains book recommendations for graduates.  

Make your products giftable

Lots of people will be shopping for presents, so you want to make sure that your products are on their radar. Put together a graduation gift guide with relevant items, and display them front and center in your store. 

You could also try running a sales promotion on certain graduation gifts. Take for example, GoPro, which ran $100 off promotion on the HERO8 Black—just in time for graduation season. 

Encourage personalization

Speaking of gift-giving, you’ll likely have a segment of shoppers who’ll want to give out personalized gifts. So, if you’re selling products that can be customized, graduation season is a perfect time to promote your offerings. 

Take a leaf out of Alex and Ani’s playbook. The jewelry retailer recently sent out an email promoting its graduation collection. In addition to showcasing stunning jewelry pieces, Alex and Ani also highlighted the fact that its products can be engraved with personal messages.

Celebrate the graduates in your business

Finally, if you have people in your team who are also graduating, see if you can put the spotlight on them. This can be as simple as giving them a shoutout on social media. For example, when King & Prince Seafood’s marketing intern graduated, the company published a special Instagram post congratulating him.

Aside from creating great content, featuring your employees in your customer-facing channels is an excellent way to convey that you value your team. 

Final words

Graduation may not be the biggest shopping event in retail, but it’s still packed with opportunities for sales and engagement. Hopefully, the tips above inspire you to uplevel your graduation marketing initiatives this year. 

About Francesca Nicasio

Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.