EVERYONE KNOWS THAT COLLEGE STUDENTS HAVE A LOT OF spending power. The trick is figuring out what they like to spend it on. In a campus setting, this knowledge is most important to the bookstore. The National Association of College Stores teamed with Teenage Research Unlimited to conduct research into the spending habits of 12-to-19 year olds. The results are presented in the report "Retail Inspiration: Insight from College-Bound Consumers." Some of the findings were presented during NACS's CAMEX show in March. When the findings were limited to college bound high school seniors, some interesting things were discovered.
At least part of the student's spending power comes from the fact that 47 percent of the respondents have part-time jobs, but they are still spending their parents' money. It will come as no surprise that 64 percent have their own cell phone and 93 percent spent time online during the week. But they are getting out and about because 81 percent shopped in a mass-market store (Wal-Mart or Target, for example) in the last 30 days and an equal number shopped in a grocery store within the last 30 days.
The study found that students generally visit the college bookstore at least once. And students feel the college bookstore is the best place to buy textbooks.
In addition to the survey, which covered more than 1,000 young people, the researchers visited the University of Connecticut, the University of Colorado at Boulder, Wake Forrest University (N.C.) and Skyline College (Calif.) for onsite interviews with student shoppers. They found that the qualities students look for in a store are price, convenience, and an inviting environment. And although students think the campus bookstore is the best place for textbooks, they think of them as the main product. They also think the prices at the campus store are higher than those at off-campus retailers.
As NACS is all about promoting and supporting campus retail, suggestions are provided to improve students' perceptions. Among the easy ones are pointing out when campus prices are lower than off campus prices and highlighting any connection between bookstore profits and scholarships or other institutional support. The full report can be purchased from NACS. The presentation from CAMEX can be viewed for free at www.camex.org. -A.M