The Purchasing Power of College Students

146734493_People with money2

College students are over 22 million strong and will control about $117 billion in spending this 2013-2014 school year. Understanding how students choose to wield this power is crucial to making the most of this demographic and their ever-changing needs.

The Top 3 Spending Categories
College students will be prepared to spend nearly $42.1 billion on food this year. With students willing to spend more of their disposable income on food than in any other category, we see how highly food is valued, and not just for basic survival purposes. Food and dining-out are considered to be very social and convenience-driven experiences; this is proven further in studies conducted by Crux Research which show that $13.1 billion of the generation’s total food spending will be spent in restaurants.

Subsequently, the way to a student’s heart just may be through their stomach. By hosting in-store events that offer free food or coupons for discounts at their favorite eateries you can leverage your knowledge of students’ spending habits to gain their business or to promote other items as well.


College students will also allocate $13.1 billion towards apparel purchases this year. The current college student is actually very fashion conscious. They do care that their phone case is an expression of their personal style, and choice is important when it comes to what patterns and colors they want in their book bags, headphones and notebooks. While most college stores are well stocked with collegiate apparel, you can also make the current fashion trends work for you in other ways. By paying attention to current trends in patterns and colors you can ensure that you stock supplies, accessories, and products that play off of what’s hot right now in the world of fashion. lists this season’s hottest colors for fall to include gray, moss green, and white tones, while popular patterns include plaids and unconventional leopard prints.


This year, students have increased their collection of tech devices by 50% and according to that same survey from Crux Research, each student now owns an average of 6.9 tech gadgets. A substantial 85% of all students now own a laptop, the number of students who own a smartphone has also gone up to 69%, 68% own video game consoles, 67% own an MP3 player, and 62% own a printer.
With new devices, updates, and improvements to technology coming out every other day it’s important to have the ability to offer students the latest and greatest in tech devices, as well as all the compatible accessories. Staying on top of new product releases and reading up on their features and requirements will allow resellers to be able to carry what students want and need most (as well as those things they don’t even realize they need).


Research shows that college students love to retail shop. In general, they support those habits with part-time jobs and the use of credit cards. Students exercise a large amount of purchasing power and as their local on-campus shop, you must channel that purchasing power into ways that benefit your business and support your success, while also providing these students with the products they’re looking for.

One thought on “The Purchasing Power of College Students

  1. Pingback: College Students Spending Habits | USF Broadcast News

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s