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BizReport : Research archives : September 02, 2009

Internet Marketing 101: Why you should target students

When it comes to spending the younger generations may have a leg up on their parents and grandparents - even if the parents and grandparents technically have more money than the kids. That, according to a new Harris Interactive/Alloy Media + Marketing poll. According to the research the 13.8 million college students going back to school this fall holds a record $250 billion in discretionary spending. This is an important concept to grasp, especially for new online businesses. Etailers to online brands need to know how different consumer groups are spending in order to target most effectively.

by Kristina Knight

The Alloy Media + Marketing report may seem unsurprising to some as college students have always spent money - whether their own money, their parents or cash from their first solo credit cards. But with the country still in the throws of economic turmoil it is interesting to note that 2009's freshman class has 6% more spending power than the freshman class of 2008.

Dana Markow, VP, Senior Consultant, Youth Center of Excellence, Harris Interactive said, "Today's college students are showing more care when it comes to their purchasing decisions; however, they continue to spend their hard earned discretionary dollars and a large number express optimism for a brighter economic future."

So, how are collegiates spending cash in 2009? Nearly three-quarters (70%) report they are the main decision maker when it comes to mobile purchases, 63% report making the final decision on camera buys and 60% influence computer purchases. So, tech marketers should definitely target the student as well as the parent.

Students are also the deciding factor when it comes to food, clothing, shoes and entertainment.

"Today's college class is clearly in control, from their media consumption and expanding connections to their feelings of empowerment as agents for change, their wide influence is indisputable," said Andy Sawyer, EVP, Media Services for Alloy Media + Marketing. "For marketers striving to gain clout with this commanding community, the College Explorer uncovers important nuances of student behaviors and offers key insights to forging a bond with them that can last well beyond graduation day."

College students aren't the only students spending money this fall. Families are expected to spend a bit more on back to school essentials despite the still flailing economy, but according to the
National Retail Federation
, families are also looking for good deals. From binders to backpacks, moms and dads are looking for the best value when shopping this back to school season, not just looking for favorite brands.

One thing to remember, students still want value. Although labels and brands are important to college students, 61% of respondents reported a willingness to try a new brand or product and many reported looking for deals. For marketers, this is another key factor. Rather than touting products as 'the next best thing', ads geared toward college students should point out the value of a product - time savings, money savings, better connection, etc. One-quarter of the respondents in this study reported using more 'responsible behaviors' when it comes to spending because of the tough economy. Smart cookies, these collegiates, eh?

For more information on Alloy Media + Marketing's 9th Annual College Explorer report, powered by Harris Interactive, click here.

Tags: Alloy Media+Marketing, back-to-school spending, consumer spending, ecommerce, etail, National Retail Federation, online spending

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