Capturing the College Student's Dollar

Back-to-School 2016: Capturing the College Student’s Dollar

by Bill McCarthy on 8-26-16 in Industry Trends

Despite the increasing financial strain for college graduates, college students reportedly possess $545 billion in spending power. That means that it’s high time for retailers to modify promotional efforts in order to increase brand engagement among Millennials.

Throughout this Back-to-School and holiday season, take time to reconsider where, why, and how college students interact with your brand so that you can market effectively. When planning promotions, consider the following:

Students Want to Spend

When it comes to “discretionary” spending, college-age students love to spend on apparel. In fact, the only discretionary items other than apparel that this group is likely to splurge on are non-retail: food and automotive expenses.

This bodes well for clothing retailers, as it indicates that students not only want to but actually will pay for fashion. With approximately $163 B up for grabs – that figure being the sum of students’ “discretionary” spending – it’s imperative that retailers find a way to cater to the college-age shopper. One place to start? Student IDs.

Don’t Discount the Appeal of the Student Discount

A student ID often grants discounted access to a slew of events, travel bookings, tourists attractions, etc., and yet the few attempts retailers make to promote student discounts often go unnoticed. Did you know that retailers including J. Crew, Banana Republic, and Ann Taylor, offer 15% off with a college ID?

In order for brands to truly reach college-age Millennials, they must creatively leverage and promote student discounts. For example, many college students shop online because they don’t have easy access to malls and shopping centers. Retailers should offer free shipping and returns with a valid college ID. Then, determine if this more targeted approach increases sales among college-age shoppers.

Reconsider Digital Deals

Another meaningful way to reach the college shopper? Through technology – social media, in particular. Students are constantly “plugged in” to one electronic platform or another: in fact, students reportedly spend an estimated 140 hours or more on technology devices every week, and 90% of college students have at least one social media account.

The best part? While students are undeniably concerned about keeping up with one another through online platforms, they also care to keep up with their favorite brands. If you’re not doing so already, it’s time to experiment with offering promotions via social. According to Social Media Strategies Summit, the most common reason people follow brands on social media is to seek out deals.

Forever 21’s social media presence is impressive: on Instagram, alone, the apparel company has nearly 11 million followers to whom the brand advertises in-store sales, as well as immediate access to online shopping.

For more information on capturing the attention of Millennial shoppers, check out our infographic, A Portrait of the Millennial Shopper.

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Read more posts by Bill McCarthy

Bill McCarthy is the General Manager of the Americas, in which he oversees regional efforts pertaining to the Traffic Insights business unit.

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