Facts About Marketing to College Students [Infographic] | Refuel Agency

College students make up an ever-changing consumer community that cannot be ignored. With almost 13 million undergraduate students in the U.S., with a purchasing power of $376 Billion annually, brands would be remiss to not cater college marketing campaigns to these entry point consumers.

For our annual College Explorer Series™ research study, Refuel Agency collects and curates detailed data from college students nationwide to help our clients authentically decode and engage with today’s fickle, yet vital college consumers.

College students represent an important demographic in today’s consumer
base. Refuel Agency not only aggregates research data specific to marketing to college students, but also utilizes these learnings to build both online and on-campus marketing strategies for brands across the US.

Key findings from this year’s college market study:

On Campus Marketing Is a Huge Opportunity

Students spend nearly 70% of their waking hours on campus, whether they live in on-campus housing or not, but over 75% of students live on or near campus full-time. Out-of-Home college marketing campaigns speak to students during this time and have been proven to be an effective brand building strategy.

Read next: The Ultimate Guide to Marketing to Gen Z

College Students Represent a Huge Spending Segment

Undergrad students have annual discretionary spending of over $130 billion and significant influence over their parents’ spending habits. Winning over college students’ brand loyalty while they’re young is key for brand — don’t forget, college students haven’t even started their full-time jobs yet. Once they enter the workforce, the brands they choose to be loyal to will make an even larger impact. 

Students Still Shop In-Store

Contrary to popular assumption considering that college students are largely members of the digital-native Gen Z generation, most students report shopping in brick and mortar stores frequently. Students do always carry their smartphones with them and engage with digital media frequently — but they still crave to be seen “in-the-wild” and they appreciate the experience of shopping in-store. Your brand can leverage this desire by creating rich in-store experiences that will draw college students in and prompt them to share their experiences on social media — think wall murals, photo booths, branded hashtags displayed in-store, and playful store design that begs to be shared. 

Read next: How to Use Micro-Moments to Build Consumer Trust

Students Actively Engage with Varied Media

Students actively engage with various media types, including on-campus
out-of-home media, social media campaigns, and online videos. The takeaway? Students are surrounded by various types of media, and your brand can leverage this knowledge by executing omnichannel marketing campaigns that boost repeat impressions and solidify your brand in college students’ awareness and interest. 

College Students Are Socially-Conscious and Care About Causes 

College students, members of the Gen Z generation, are highly socially conscious, and research shows that they value brands who support the causes they want to support. Just like college students view their digital lives like an extension of the their physical lives, they view the brands they choose to support as an extension of their values and beliefs. 

Don’t be silent about your brand’s beliefs and values. From championing diversity to raising awareness for a cause to implementing sustainable business practices — invest in cause marketing and be transparent about the good you’re doing and Gen Z will take notice. 

Read next: What is Cause Marketing, and How Does It Drive Brand Loyalty?

About Refuel Agency

Refuel Agency is a leading marketing firm connecting a wide range of brands with niche consumer segments through scalable and impactful media and promotions solutions. With decades of expertise serving youth, multicultural, military, and local audiences, Refuel Agency deploys brand campaigns that speak to these consumers in their world throughout their day. The business was formerly a central part of Alloy Media and Marketing Corporation. Refuel Agency has locations nationwide, with headquarters in New York City and offices in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, CA, and Princeton, NJ. 

college explorer study

College Explorer Series™