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Student Shopping Report – 4 Minute Read

Student Beans is an e-commerce platform dedicated to online shopping for college and soon to be college students. In their most recently published report (over thirty pages), we learned quite a lot. Our team took those thirty pages and condensed them into a 4-minute read.

Online shopping

  • Because of the COVID-19 rules and regulations for typical retail shopping (limited amount of people in stores, limited time inside stores, and much more), students have been getting their shopping fix online more than ever. Since the start of the pandemic:
    • 45% of students purchase things online that they use to go out and buy in person.
    • 33% of students make fewer impulsive purchases.
    • 25% of students do intense research before purchasing.
  • Online shopping allows customers to add products to a wishlist so that they can come back and make purchases on the products when they are available or discounted. 
  • 35% of students tend to look for discounts more frequently online than going to a store. 
  • Due to most students having to be on a computer all day to access classes and perform assignments, they are more likely to click on a new tab and search up a shopping website due to the accessibility they have being a remote student. 
    • Since the pandemic, about 24% of 16-24-year-old students browse online stores at least once a day.
    • 75% of those students are in college.
    • 37% of those students make an online purchase at least once a day.

The Social Aspect

  • Plenty of students believe that online shopping can be just as much of a social experience as going out to the mall with friends. It is very easy for someone to simply shoot a text, or call on facetime, or send a Snapchat of a product they are looking at online to a friend for their opinion. 

Student Marketing

  • Building your audience’s trust is the most critical factor in a good marketing strategy towards students.
  • To build trust from students shopping online, your company should always be adapting to growing trends of social shopping and app commerce to keep a consistent audience demographic. 
  • 97% of all students use social media. About 65% of students get ideas of what to buy from social media, so take advantage of advertising your company on social media platforms and focus on the platforms that most students tend to use.
    • 84% of students go on YouTube at least once a month.
    • 73% of students go on Instagram at least once a month.
    • 63% of students go on Snapchat at least once a month
    • 48% of students go on TikTok at least once a month.
  • Using celebrities and influencers to promote your product and/or brand is important, but do not always rely on that. Even though they have a strong ability to improve your brand with their large followings, Students in Gen Z understand that these high-profiled people are incentivized to promote products. Therefore, giving viewers the impression that their endorsement may not be genuine. Viral marketing techniques such as sampling, and micro-influencer collaborations, could be much more effective towards the younger audience. 
  • As explained before, family and friends’ recommendations can help build trust with your target audience.
  • About 31% of college students say that they have never seen a brand promoted on their campus, so with some college campuses preparing to re-open, don’t miss the opportunity to reach students in places on campus where they spend most of their time throughout the day. 
  • Another great way to promote your brand towards college students is to target those on well-known organizations within their campus like club sports and greek life organizations. Greek life is a massive part of some universities around the country, so targeting a greek-life demographic can be a very effective marketing strategy for companies. 
  • Being in a greek life organization is very important towards establishing your presence not only on a college campus but also on social media. 
    • 68% of being in greek life on campus influences how you socialize with others.
    • 38% influences what you buy.


  • Gen Z is raised to be the most health-conscious generation, yet, it is essential for health/beauty brands to market and advertise to that demographic, whether it be exercise apparel, health supplements, or beauty products.
  • In a survey conducted about health/beauty for college students, stats show that:
    • 37% of students shop health/beauty products in stores.
    • 21% shop the same products online
    • 58% said they do both.
  • Health and beauty are one of the sectors where quality is more important than price.
    • 63% of students say quality is the most crucial factor in purchasing health/beauty products.
    • 57% say affordability is the most important factor.
  • First-year College students are a prime target market for brands in this sector as they seek help in their health and fitness.
  • A growing audience demographic for the beauty market is males, as Gen Z spending power continues to grow.
  • Focusing on positive, inclusive messaging towards student spenders will resonate with an audience who reject outdated marketing strategies in the beauty industry.


  • This is a category that has been most affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic. 
  • Within the student demographic, since the pandemic, cooking at home and takeout has become popular. However, eating out is one of the more favored actions for college students. 
  • Vegetarian and vegan meal options are trendy, particularly for the Gen Z demographic. Offering more affordable and accessible vegetarian and vegan options will help your company appeal to students looking to order out and eat healthier during this pandemic. 
  • Another way to increase your student demographic during this pandemic is to help students cook from home by offering food services such as grocery delivery and simple, healthy meal kits. 


  • Technology has been an enormous influence on Gen Z, as many people in this generation rely on technology to do just about anything they put their minds to. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, however, they have been relying on technology more than ever. Technology plays a vital role in their education, socialization, entertainment, and shopping, as in-person activities are closed due to the pandemic.
  • Technology is one of the few sectors in which students prioritize quality over affordability. High-powered and durable are very important factors in technology, so much that a price tag does not matter. 
  • Due to the pandemic, student technology needs are changing rapidly. Widening the market for products like second screens and webcams is vital, especially when remote education is at its highest. 
  • When selling a technological product to a student, try to focus on pitching them on quality, price, durability, and brand trust.


  • Especially for Gen Z, entertainment is focused on coming together and interacting with each other. 
  • Since the pandemic, however, entertainment activities like streaming movies, playing video games, and listening to music have become the limited entertainment students can rely on. 
  • For entertainment businesses looking to build themselves towards the Gen Z demographic during this pandemic, look for ways to offer entertainment events that follow the COVID-19 guidelines. 
  • The gaming community is vast. Do not underestimate the female gaming community, as the female gamers’ demographic has become increasingly more powerful than the male demographic, especially since the pandemic.
  • Engaging with online communities centered around cultural interests is a great way to raise brand awareness. 


  • Before the pandemic, about 82% of Gen Z students would take an annual vacation with friends or family, as travel is considered a passion for Gen Z students.
  • Social media is considered the main inspiration behind college students wanting to travel so much. 
  • For businesses centered around traveling during the pandemic, your best bet to keep bringing in money is to focus on advertising travel destinations when the pandemic is over.
  • Since most college students have not planned a trip before without their families’ guidance, they are probably nervous about making their first significant travel bookings, so be sure to provide as much advice and information as possible.
  • Good value and brand familiarity are major keys to earning college students travel money, make sure your offer to them provides those two, and you should have yourself a sale.