NEW YORK: Brands are using the back-to-school shopping period to target teachers and schools in an attempt to win a greater share of a $26bn retail bonanza.

With this level of spending expected by the National Retail Federation, the back-to-school season ranks as the largest shopping spike in the US after the year-end holiday.

Relevant brands have been using a variety of methods to increase sales to both schools and parents, ranging from the sponsorship of websites to generation of project ideas using their own products.

Kleenex, for example, is one of the brands sponsoring, a website that posts more than 300,000 back-to-school lists from around the country. When teachers using the site put together their school supplies lists for parents, they are encouraged to specify Kleenex tissues rather than generic tissues.

TeacherLists founder Tim Sullivan told the Wall Street Journal that tissues were the most commonly requested item from schools this year.

Procter & Gamble, which makes Puffs facial tissues and Bounty paper towels, has sponsored TeachersLists in the past but, arguing that most parents get their lists directly from teachers and schools, they are instead focusing on coupons, online sweepstakes and back-to-school packaging to get parents to buy their products.

Brands with a particular purpose also look at developing relationships with teachers. Elmer's glue, for example, has created an online teachers club that offers project ideas and lesson plans as well as the chance to win supplies. And Crayola, the crayon maker, attends education conferences to showcase its products to the teaching community.

With up to 40% of annual sales of products such as writing implements taking place in this period, it is important for marketers to establish brand preference and loyalty. with a presence on teachers' lists seen as vital.

In the case of products such as disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizers, brands also have one eye on a knock-on effect for the winter cold-and-flu season when parents are more likely to buy the same items for the home.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff