2012 Back-to-College Shopping: What are Students Buying?


As twenty million students head back to campus this fall, they’ll be bringing with them more than just books, notebooks and pencils. According to a new study by the 9-year-old social media marketing firm MRY (formerly Mr. Youth), students will spend on average $900 on back-to-college merchandise. The Cool for School: Back-to-College Insights study reveals that by August, 40% of college-aged students have already hit the mall for their back-to-school shopping – earlier than previous years. MRY polled 500 college students nationwide about their shopping habits this year and found:
  • Social Media – Second Only to In-Person Conversation:  As of August, 65% of students have had a conversation on Facebook about back-to-college shopping. 
  • Mobile – For Saving Money & Driving Retail Visits:  Shopping apps were used by 38% of all college students this fall. College students use their phones as shopping aids for saving money and curating shopping lists (35% of students created a shopping list on their phone). 
  • Students Foot The Bill, Feel The Pinch: A tough economy has more than half of students (52%) footing the bill on purchases this year. This has students stressed, with nearly half (48%) of all students worried about meeting daily expenses, and (44%) worried they won’t be able to finish college due to financial reasons. And over half (55%) are worried they won’t be able to find a job when they graduate.

    Click on image above to view the full infographic.

Students’ Must-Have List

So, what are the most wanted products this back-to-college season? MRY tracked dozens of items across several categories and found that while the big-ticket items like tablets, big screen TVs and gaming consoles are on students’ wish lists, they will spend the majority of their money on essentials for class: laptops, printers, software and clothing.

  • Laptops – 40% bought new, 36% plan to buy
  • Productivity Software – 24% bought new, 29% plan to buy
  • Credit Card – 35% signed up, 62% plan to sign up
  • Checking Account – 43% signed up, 42% plan to sign up
  • PayPal Account – 33% signed up, 34% plan to buy
  • Streaming Media Service – 34% signed up, 25% plan to buy
  • Fall Fashion – 61% bought clothes, $200 spent on average

For more information on MRY’s back-to-college study, visit http://www.mry.com/.

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