Usually, when people think about about college purchasing habits, they think of one word: cheap. Everyone knows the stereotype of a cheap college kid. There’s some truth to it too. I have one friend who saves plastic utensils from Wendy’s instead of buying silverware. But to think of college kids are just “cheap” is missing a big part of the picture. After all, while pinching pennies on some items, they are certainly willing to splurge on others. This meme sums up the discrepancy perfectly.
There’s multiple reasons that college kids and twentysomethings are cheap about some things and not about others. And understanding what those reasons are could help you cultivate a potential customer for life. Listening now? I’ve decided to do a mini-series on why college kids buy what they buy and where the opportunity lies. First up….
We Have No Brand Loyalties…Yet!
Think about your last trip to the grocery store. What brand of orange juice did you buy? Was it different from the one you bought last week? My guess is not. Take my mom, for example. She’s been buying Simply Orange orange juice for years now. At this point, she has brand loyalty. Her purchase has become a habit. In Simply Orange’s eyes, she’s a consumer they can rely on.
But what about college kids/twentysomethings like me? We have no purchasing habits! Not yet anyway. For many of us, it’s our first time purchasing orange juice. Or paper towels. Or winter coats. Or just about anything! And since I don’t have as many brand loyalties yet, I’m most likely to just buy the cheapest product.
So, where’s the opportunity?
Without the habit of purchasing the same item every week, I am much more susceptible to factors like price. However, since my options are pretty open, I’m also much more susceptible to advertising. I doubt a price change or advertisement could get my mom to change from habitual Simply Orange to another brand. For me, on the other hand, both price and advertising absolutely matter because I’m still making my decision. Without many pre-existing brand loyalties, it’s all I have to go on!
Since I don’t know my habits yet, you as an advertiser can help me establish them by convincing me to buy your product. Think of me as a relatively “blank-slate” purchaser. This is the time where I’m just starting to build my loyalties to brands, the perfect time to make an impression. And then, once my purchase becomes a habit, it will be much harder for a competitor to steal me away.
However, there are many steps between getting me to buy your product once and establishing a brand loyalty that consistently drives my purchases. In order to get from A to B, stay tuned for the next sections of “Why College Kids Are Cheap–And How It Benefits You!”. Part 2: Needs vs. Wants
Thanks for reading! Lindsey Kirchoff