College students, ages 18-24, made 351.4 million visits to convenience stores and spent approximately $5.2 billion on convenience-store products in the 12 months ending June 2012, according to a recently released report by The NPD Group, an information and advisory services company.
With the population of full- and part-time college students currently at 19 million and their discretionary spending reaching $76 billion last year, up $2 billion from the year before, the NPD report finds that there is significant opportunity for convenience stores to attract young adults and build brand affinity.
Student convenience-store usage has grown across virtually all spending components and product dollars grew 15 percent over a year ago, according to the NPD report, which is titled, “Making the Grade: Student Consumer Impact on the Retail Fuels and Convenience Marketplace.” The report, which examines how convenience stores can capitalize on opportunities to attract college students, also finds that 31.9 percent of college students’ convenience-store purchases are an impulse buy, compared to 22.7 percent of other convenience-store shoppers’ purchases.
In terms of fuel, students make up approximately 4 percent of the fuel-buying population in the United States. Likely related to less driving, student fuel buyers purchase fewer gallons per month than the average consumer. College students tend to purchase major oil gasoline brands rather than fuel from high-volume retailers, like hypermarket and grocery store gas retailers, according to the report, which includes findings from other NPD research on motor fuels and convenience stores.
“Students with money to spend represent a growing population — and a significant opportunity — worth convenience store marketers’ attention,” says David Portalatin, NPD’s director of industry analysis. “Opportunities exist for c-store retailers to tap into student impulse purchasing through strategic product placement, bundling, loyalty programs, and dealing to increase student purchasing.”