Fluent, a market research firm that characterizes its business as working with clients to understand and engage College Millennial Consumers, recently conducted a back-to-school survey of 1,420 students in the United States that suggested while frugality reigns, for some specific product segments, there is more openness to spending. Consistent with last year’s results, about 80% of students described themselves as more cost-conscious this year than a year ago even if willing to bend low-spending rules when it comes to clothing, technology and dorm room accessories.
As regards products that might tempt them to “spend more than they should,” Fluent noted that college students rank dorm room decorating “surprisingly high,” with the category shooting up 27 points since the company’s last survey. Fluent suggested that the increasing willingness to spend on their living environments indicated that discretionary spending might be on the rise among students. Apparel got the top nod for extra spending, cited by 70% of survey respondents, while technology was the choice made by 53% of students and dorm decor by 30%.
Just more than a third of survey respondents maintained that August was their main back to school shopping month. Approximately an equal proportion stated that they had no particular time frame.
More respondents pointed to third-party product reviews as a prime purchase influencer in this year’s study, Fluent pointed out, although that source still trails friends and coupons as a buying motivator. Three sources that college students surveyed rated as least influential on their purchasing were online product demos, Pinterest and other visual sharing social channels, and magazine articles and editorial pieces.