College Students: A Growing C-Store Customer

“Students with money to spend represent a growing population — and a significant opportunity — worth convenience store marketers’ attention,” says NPD’s director of industry analysis.

College students, ages 18-24, made 351.4 million visits to convenience stores (c-stores) and spent approximately $5.2 billion on c-store products in the 12-months ended June 2012, according to a recently released report by The NPD Group, a global 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 c-stores to attract these young adults and build brand affinity.   

Student c-store usage has grown across virtually all spending components and product dollars grew 15% over a year ago, according to the NPD report, Making the Grade: Student Consumer Impact on the Retail Fuels and Convenience Marketplace. The report, which examines how c-stores can capitalize on opportunities to attract college students, also finds that 31.9% of college students’ c-store purchases are an impulse buy, compared to 22.7% of other c-store shoppers’ purchases.

In terms of fuel, students make up approximately 4% of the fuel buying population in the U.S. Likely related to less driving, student fuel buyers purchase fewer gallons per month than the average consumer. College student fuel brands usage is more centralized around major oil gasoline brands; rather than high-volume retailers, like hypermarket and grocery store gas retailers, according to the report, which includes findings from NPD’s Motor Fuels Index and Convenience Store Monitor research services. 

“Students with money to spend represent a growing population — and a significant opportunity — worth convenience store marketers’ attention,” said 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.”

 

 

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