Targeting college students is nothing new for marketers. Reaching this lucrative group has proven to be a challenge, as they are the largest and most diverse generation in the US. This generation is also a prime target for brands, as they are also spending a projected $200 billion each year. Here are five trends into the shopping behavior of college students to better influence your marketing strategies.
- Social media is the number one source for shopping research
A survey by Blackhawk Network asked college students how they learn about products, sales and shopping trends.
When asked why they follow certain brands on social media, 54% stated to learn about their values and deals, 32% for news and trends, and 15% for promotional sweepstakes. Because social media has such a high level of influence over how students communicate with brands, marketers must focus in on extending their social media strategies to fit this demand.
2. Rise in digital payment
College students are using mobile and digital payment for just about everything: rent, splitting food checks, and bills. They find safety and flexibility in gift cards, with 66% believing they believe cards can help protect against fraud and identity theft. The preferred payment at 79% is PayPal.
3. Offer rebates
Price, followed by quality and brand name, are one of the top purchasing influences for college students. According to the Blackhawk survey, 95% said they are as or more sensitive to price this year compared to last year. When appealing to price-conscious college students, consider offering rebates instead of discounts. Below are the different rebate preferences based on category:
4. Buy online, pick up in store
College students crave immediate gratification. The option to buy online and pick up in store is appealing to this generation in order to limit time waiting on line in store. 88% of respondents said they would consider buying online and picking up in store to receive a $10 discount on a $50 item. Over half (55%) have already bought online and picked up in store within the past six months.
5. Offer a loyalty program
Despite stereotypes that college students are not loyal to any brands and will purchase from wherever offers the best deal, 69% belong to a retail loyalty program. The preferred channels of communication for these loyalty programs is email (76%).