Back to College Shopping is big business

This Fall semester, 19.7 million college students are returning to class. (according to the US Census Bureau) Retailers might be more excited than students.  It is estimated that $46 Billion will be spent on preparing college students for the school year. (according to the National Retail Federation)  College students tend to spend more than grade school students because they often have a new home to furnish in addition to apparel and school supplies.  Retailers have tailored their marketing efforts to attract these college spenders.  Let’s look at a couple examples:

Bed Bath & Beyond

Bed Bath & Beyond is a one stop shop for dorm room furnishings.  They have branded a sub section of their site and stores as “Campus & Beyond”.  The web site displays fully furnished rooms to help students envision their ideal setup.  The site provides a must have checklist categorized by Eat, Sleep, Study, Relax, Wash, and Organize sections.  Students can also find a ton of home furnishings branded with their college logo.  They also offer extra services like ‘College Gift Registry’ and ‘Moving Solutions’ to help subsidize and deliver the goods.  Bed Bath & Beyond has built brand awareness and store traffic by engaging in campus marketing activities.  For example, Bed Bath & Beyond has partnered with the Syracuse University bookstore to showcase their products at the on campus bookstore.  They have also worked with Columbia University to advertise at athletic events and offer student discounts.


Staples goes far beyond typical pencil and paper school supplies.  Back to school pages tend to highlight new slim, stylish laptops that appeal to hip younger users. The Staples web site includes a Dorm Essentials page, a shopping menu divided by grade, and video product reviews.  Products displayed as essentials include furniture, cleaning supplies, and snacks.  Rico Rodriguez, the lovable, funny youngster known as Manny on ABC’s hit series Modern Family, hosts short video segments that highlight Staples products.  These clips bring some humor and fun to the online shopping experience.

Both companies do a great job of offering a convenient online shopping solution and carrying a wide mix of products that college students want.  The challenge is getting in front of these college students at the right time of the year as they are making these purchasing decisions.  Campus Solutions has a nationwide network of brand ambassadors and student leaders in place.  Campus Solutions is able extend marketing campaigns to college campuses to build relationships with the highly sought after college consumer.  Increasing customer traffic and loyalty for the life of the student’s college career is well worth the marketing effort for this highly sought after customer demographic.

Census Info –

National Retail Federation –

Bed Bath & Beyond –

Staples –


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