Parents’ Weekend at a child’s university offers an opportunity not only to spend time with your child, but also to observe their purchasing and lifestyle decisions, typically made without the watchful eyes of parents.
Some takeaway about the spending of this generation that is on the cusp of being a Millennial and being part of Generation Z:
- Chipotle rules! It’s true. Although the true fast food junkies (particularly the male variety) may still be frequenting more burger joints and inhaling McNuggets and fries, Chipotle has the the air of being healthy (how healthy is debatable; certainly the calorie count on some of their burritos are in the stratosphere). The ability to customize the meal and maximize fullness in a relatively quick experience (and with visibly fresh ingredients) seems to be a driving force among the quad crowd.
- The campus book store is for parents buying tchotchkes. The students have long ago ordered all of their books on Amazon prime or are sharing texts or text codes for electronic books. They go into the book store to buy a t-shirt for their infant niece or nephew.
- The personal touch isn’t cheesy. The owner of the Indian food truck who remembers you is a draw, even if it’s a few blocks away from other food options. The barista at the coffee shop who makes your skinny latte just right and spells your name correctly is the best brand marketing. When they’re away from home, college students want to feel a little special, they want a place “where everybody knows their name”. These small business owners (and large business workers) fill that void in sort of a sweet way, even asking to meet the parents when they come into town.
- Cooking is still old school. For the older students with kitchens or kitchenettes, this is a new fun development. They enjoyed buying kitchen gadgets (we’re ignoring how many blenders are in the dormitories…). And even though they can find endless recipes on the internet, they still call home to get their favorite recipe.
- You can never be too niche. The market is so varied for lots of things, particularly clothing options and viewing options. It’s all over the map. One cannot say that a certain store apparel is “hot”, because the community has so many sectors (what one group likes another rejects as being too conformist). Online buying even for clothing is pretty big with this crowd. Labels seem less ubiquitous than in the past for clothing, but for viewing and texting, Iphones (not androids) and Hulu (not Netflix) are preeminent.
These mini adults spend a fair amount of money (even if they haven’t earned it) through their campus food plans, which are often glorified debit cards as well as their other disposable income. Creating customer loyalty among this generation can reap rewards for the four years they are a part of the community and possibly longer.