Survey: To Reach College Students, Brands Need to Use Internet

August 27, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Brand Metrics | Men | Pharma & Healthcare | Promotions, Coupons & Co-op | Radio | Retail & E-Commerce | Telecom | Television | Women | Youth & Gen X

As college students prepare to invade campuses, marketers can best reach and build relationships with this demo of up-and-coming consumers via the internet, which students prefer to both TV and radio, according to a recent Burst Media study of college students (pdf).

The July 2007 Burst Media online survey of 439 college students 18-24 years old studied students’ media consumption, how they finance their discretionary spending, and what influences their brand preferences.

Media Consumption Habits, according to Burst’s survey

  • College students spend more time with the internet than other media:
    • 33.0% spend more than 10 hours per week online, and 19.6% spend more than 20 hours per week online.
    • However, just 16.6% watch more than 10 hours per week of television.
    • And only 5.5% listen to terrestrial/satellite radio more than 10 hours per week.


  • Students are online even when watching television or listening to the radio:
    • 50.6% surf the web while watching TV.
    • 43.5% are online while listening to terrestrial/satellite radio.
  • Students use the internet to keep in touch and be entertained:
    • Instant messaging is the most popular online activity with both male (62.3%) and female (57.2%) college students. Next are downloading music/MP3 files (53.3%), and pursuing school/work activities (51.7%).
    • Those are followed by playing online games (47.7%), reading entertainment news/gossip (46.2%), listening to internet radio (44.5%), reading local/national/international news (44.2%), viewing streaming video content (42.6%).
    • Males are more like than females to view streaming video (49.3% vs 34.3%).
    • Females are more likely than males to research health info (32.8% vs 21.7%).


College students shop most for clothes and computers, according to Burst

  • 69.1% of male college students spend $250 or more in a typical month on personal items, compared with 50.2% of female college students who do so.
  • 46.7% will purchase casual clothing for school, with females somewhat more likely than males saying they will do so: 50.2% vs 43.8%.
  • Laptops and cell phones are the tech products college students will purchase most of before returning to school:
    • 23.3% will purchase a laptop.
    • 21.5% will purchase a mobile phone, with male students are more likely than female students to do so (26.0% vs. 16.4%)
    • 15.2% say they will purchase a desktop computer.
    • Other favored tech products: digital music player (15.1%), video game console (13.7%), and a laser printer (6.7%).

Other findings from the Burst study of college students

  • Offline retail is the favored venue for purchases:
    • Students say they will make more than three-quarters of their purchases offline and less than a quarter online.
    • Males will make more of their purchases online than female college students (26.6% vs. 16.7%).
  • Brand selection among students is driven by WOM and cost-consciousness:
    • The most important influence regarding brand selection is price, cited by 66.3% of college students.
    • Friends’ recommendation is the second most important factor, cited by 56.0%; females are more likely than males to say so (60.4% vs. 52.5%).
    • Next are “seeing others use a brand” (25.9%), “buzz” (21.0%), an advertisement (18.6%), packaging (18.0%), press stories (14.2%), and celebrity endorsement (9.8%).



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