What You Said

Brands Matter, But Only Sometimes

Would you give up your Juicy Couture jeans than their Cap'n Crunch cereal? That's what you and fellow students indicated in our May's edition of the Monthly Shopping Survey.

When it comes to your favorite cereal, whether for breakfast or for snacking, 66% of students say they are completely or mostly loyal to the brands they already buy. On the other hand, just 54% stated they feel the same way about the apparel brands they threw on that morning. An H&M top apparently can't compete with the emotional satisfaction of Cocoa Puffs.

Students are the most fiercely loyal to their personal hygiene products, with 77% preferring to stick with the same purchases. You’re also pretty committed to your mobile phone brand; only 29.7% would be open to considering another brand.

For other product categories, though, you are willing to make a switch. You told us that you are willing to give a go to different brands of snacks (39.3%), carbonated beverages (36.1%), over-the-counter health and medicine products (35.7%), and especially bottled water (55.3%). Despite your fervor for personal electronics and computer gadgetry, almost one third of respondents are not particularly devoted to the brands they own.

What influences your decision to make the switch? Some 47.2% of students (50.6% of females) say they would be persuaded to change brands to pocket some savings. Better quality was the tipping factor for 44.2% of students (49.3% of males).

Christmas All I Want for Christmas Is Everything

Dear Santa,

I’ve been a good college student this year and I hope you’ll leave me some cool stuff under the tree. Like other top mentions in a recent student panel survey, I’d really like to have some rockin’ new clothes and a new laptop, especially an Apple MacBook. A new tablet would also be awesome, if you’ve got an extra iPad in your bag.

I could really go for some new boots or athletic shoes and maybe some accessories and jewelry  to wear with the new clothes. If it’s not too much trouble, I’d like to have a new TV. The phone you brought me a couple years ago still works just fine but all my friends have an iPhone, so I’d like to have the latest one, too.

But if the elves don’t have time to make these things, just fill my stocking with gift cards or cash. I’d be cool with that, for sure.

In case you’re wondering, I’m going to do a little giving myself, though maybe not as much as last year. For Christmas 2012, I spent $409.78 on gifts for everybody, but I ought to cut back some this year, so I’ve only budgeted $331.26. That could change, though, once I start shopping. I do most of my gift-buying in December (45.4%) after researching online first to find the best deals (72%).

Thanks, Santa. You’re the best!

FacebookCollege Students Still into Facebook, for Now

Young people are so over Facebook. Once Mom and Dad set up profiles, the kids started to clear out—or so the social media analysts crow.

But guess which social media platform 65.8% of college students would take time to check each day if they were limited to just one? Yes, that’s Facebook.

Although their younger siblings might see it differently, the collegiate crowd isn’t freaked out by the incursion of parents and grandparents onto the social network. Students told OnCampus Research that keeping in touch with family, as well as friends, is by far their top purpose (61.7%) for using Facebook.

The girls are more plugged into Facebook than the guys, with 92.1% of female students having a profile, compared to 73.1% of the males. Almost 68% of student Facebook users look at the site off and on throughout the day and another 19.4% make sure to check it once daily.

On the other hand, students are less crazy about staying tight with stores and product brands through Facebook. No student picked “receive deals/offers” as the primary reason for visiting Facebook—that’s what Foursquare is for, according to 41%. When students decide to follow or like a brand name, whether on Facebook or other social media, it’s usually because the brand is already one of their faves (67.7%).

Word CloudWhat You Said: School Is Just an Excuse to Shop

It’s BTS time again. For some, that’s Back to School. For you, that’s Back to Shopping.

More than 78% of students said they were definitely planning to shop for school-related merchandise this fall, according to OnCampus Research’s Online Student Panel Survey in August. Only 8.9% decided to try to make do without a shopping trip this year.

More than half (55.8%) start hitting the stores—both bricks and clicks—a few weeks before classes get underway. For 27.8%, the week prior to the first day of class is soon enough. But some students can’t wait; 6.3% launch their shop-till-you-drop blitz months before they’ll see the inside of a classroom again.

The rest aren’t in any hurry. They claim they’ll get around to shopping for school once classes commence, or even later. This group may fall in the 13.1% of students who say they’ll only shop when they need something specific or the 1.1% who assert they’d “rather eat dirt than go shopping.”

When it comes to shopping for their fall school needs, students don’t always watch the bottom line. A little more than 27% do set a budget and keep their purchases in line with it. But, to the relief of retailers everywhere, the others either tend to toss the budget after they begin shopping or don’t bother with budgeting at all. Maybe that’s because Mom and Dad are footing the bill

You Shop Online, But So What?

Word Cloud

While you and your peers like to shop online, you aren’t necessarily using online or mobile tools to help with shopping. You’re also kind of ambivalent about the whole online shopping thing.

In a survey last May, a whopping 96% of the student respondents had made at least one purchase online in the previous 30 days, with almost 9% clicking to buy online six or more times in that period.

Yet, students aren’t ready to give up the thrill of browsing through sale racks in person. Almost 43% disagreed with the statement, “Ideally I would buy everything online,” and 40.4% indicated they usually only shop online to snag “a really good deal.” Free shipping is sometimes a lure for student shoppers, but not always.

Most students have apparently tried at least one shopping app, whether the deal-finder kind or store-branded ones, but the majority of students rarely, if ever, use them to aid their online shopping trips. Those retailers who are feverishly posting special offers on Twitter and/or Facebook in an effort to attract students may be wasting their time. More than two-thirds of students say they don’t check either social medium in their search for hot deals.

What You Said: “I Cannot Live Without my Phone”

It’s there when you hop into bed and still there when you arise the next morning. It’s in the car, at the dinner table, during the workout, in the classroom, and, yes, even in the bathroom. Cellphones command your attention no matter where you are.

Only 1.6% of OnCampus Research’s student panelists don’t have a mobile phone. Majority (79.6%) of them tote around a smartphone, usually an iPhone or a Samsung model, and the rest are making do with a basic phone. Panelists admit they are on their phones an average of 4.89 hours per day, more than some are actually in class, and 51.1% agree it’s “very” or “completely” true that their phone “is a vital tool in mySmart Phones life.” 

But it’s not like you are placing a bunch of calls with that phone. Many students say they prefer to text-message rather than call someone, unless there’s some sort of drama to deal with, such as resolving a spat or delivering bad news. At those times, talking is better.

Catching up on social media alone devours 3.5 hours on average each day, though some students may divide their social media time among multiple Internet devices. Despite all the recent dissing of Facebook online and in the news, Mark Zuckerberg’s baby is still the place to see and be seen. Some 95.5% of student respondents have a Facebook account and it’s by far the social media network they engage most often.

Students are also heading over to YouTube (62%), Twitter (42.5%), Pinterest (40.5%), Google+ (40.2%), and the latest hot thing, Instagram (36.4%).

College Students Less Fearful About Money

Even in good times, having enough cash is an ongoing dilemma for most students, whether it’s to cover their educational expenses or to snap up an awesome new pair of skinny jeans. Their anxiety levels over money climbed as the recession deepened. Now, though, things are looking a bit brighter as college students are a little less fearful about money.

In OnCampus Research’s 2013 Student Watch study, 59% of student respondents indicated they were still “concerned about running out of money for college.” But that’s a drop from the 66% who agreed with the same statement in the 2011 and 2009 surveys. Even more telling, just 57% of today’s students said they compare prices before purchasing something, a big plunge from 75% in 2011 and 79% in 2009. 

Students are still looking to stretch their debit cards, though. No matter what their account balance reads, their favorite places to shop are Wal-Mart, Target, and dollar stores. When they want to check out the new fashions, the ladies head first to stores with the friendliest prices, such as Forever 21, Kohl’s, and H&M.

Students See a Very Merry Christmas This Year

Christmas StudentsSanta’s elves may have to toil overtime. College students who plan on bestowing Christmas gifts this year expect to be pretty generous to their family and friends—and to themselves.

How much do you plan to spend this holiday season? On average, students estimate they’ll spend about $410 on holiday presents this year, including gift cards, according to OnCampus Research’s Holiday Shopping Survey 2012. Most students claim they’ll try to set a budget and even make an effort to stick to it by hitting in-store sales (71.2%) or trolling for bargains online (55.7%).

Although college students practically live online, they still get a jingle out of Christmas shopping the way their grandparents did, in a real store with slatwall and scanners and “Santa Baby” on the sound system. Students say they’ll head over the river and through the woods to a physical store for about two-thirds of their Yuletide purchases, then hop on their laptops to order the remaining 34.4% from web merchants.

Shop on your smartphone? Well, despite predictions by all the technology pundits that this was the big year for mobile commerce, few students want to deck the halls via a small screen.

While they’re hunting for that holly-jolly gift for someone else, half of students may also indulge in buying a little ho-ho-ho for themselves. The reason may be midnight-clear: The type of merchandise students most often intend to wrap up for others (clothing/shoes, 74.6%) is the kind they most want to find under their own tree (71.1%). “Buy one, get one” offers can be irresistible.

Word CloudBack-to-School Shopping List

What was at the top of your back-to-school shopping list?

In our summer survey, we asked our Student Panel to dish on the one thing they were really hoping to buy for college this fall. Would it be a cool set of earphones or a flat-screen TV for the dorm room or apartment? Maybe a new phone or a great pair of sneakers?

What we found was that students are gearing up for homework. Four out of the five top answers involved tools for school: a laptop, textbooks, school supplies, and a computer. In fact, some sort of computing device—whether a laptop, tablet, or other computer—was cited by 142 students on the panel.

Yet there was one personal indulgence, of sorts, in the top five answers. Can you figure out what it is from the word cloud to the right?

In addition to textbooks, supplies, and some sort of computer, our Student Panel had one other item in the top five on their back-to-school shopping wish list—clothes. From tees to jeans, bright scarves to flirty skirts, just about every student wants to head back to campus with a few new things to start off the school year.

We also asked our panelists to share their experience and advice with incoming students. What’s the one product you would recommend as essential for first-year students?

As you can see by the word cloud below, a laptop was overwhelmingly the biggest response, with a computer also among the top five answers. A total of 195 students recommended that freshmen be sure to get their own laptop, tablet, or other computer to work on course assignments and do research for papers. Having your own machine means you won’t have to borrow someone else’s or run to the computer lab.

Panelists also recommended getting a daily planner or agenda book to keep track of your busy schedule and a bookbag to haul your books and gear around campus.

Finishing out the top five recommended items for freshers was a surprising answer: nothing. Many panelists thought new students could get by just fine without buying anything in particular.



Print Still a Favorite

Digital/electronic textbook use is going up as more than one-third of college students have purchased or accessed a digital/electronic textbook for one of their courses, according to the latest Student Watch 2012 report. However, most students still prefer the printed textbook. Which do you prefer?

OnCampus Research found that if the choice of textbook were entirely up to you, approximately 77% of college students would buy a printed textbook over a digital version. That means less than a quarter of students would rather go digital!

Why do so few of your peers prefer the digital/electronic textbooks? For those who like e-books, the most popular reason is that they reduce the weight of textbooks in their backpacks (79%). In addition, 73% like the idea of having all of their required course materials in one place at one time. Lastly, 69% of students want to do their part for the planet and save paper.

Interestingly, more males (26%) favor a digital/electronic textbook over a printed version compared to females (20%). In addition, more community college students (29%) opt for a digital format when compared to four-year students (21%).

Do any of these reasons make you want to try out a digital book? Share your thoughts with us on our Facebook page.


The Dorm’s Not the Norm

Glimpse inside a 10-by-15-foot space crammed with bunk beds, desks, and an eclectic melange of stuff. It’s the iconic college dormitory room, a longtime symbol of student life.

Except that most college students don’t live in a dorm these days.

Just 17.6% of the students responding to OnCampus Research’s July 2011 survey said they planned to move into a dorm or other campus housing for the fall term. It’s no shocker that college students—most of whom grew up with private bedrooms and often private bathrooms—don’t want to share a cramped one-room box and traipse down a communal hallway to take a shower. Had more schools not required non-commuter freshmen to live on campus, that percentage might have been even lower.

But off-campus apartment complexes aren’t necessarily where you’ll find the rest of the student body this semester. The largest number, 40.3% of survey respondents, are still bunking at home with Mom and Dad, possibly because it’s the cheapest room and board around. Almost 37% of students said housing costs influenced their living arrangements “a great deal” this school year.

What about the student seeking to set up his crib in an Animal House? Just 1.3% of students are residing in a fraternity or sorority house.


Saving Versus Spending: You Choose Both

A. College students like to save money on back-to-school shopping.
B. College students like to spend money on back-to-school shopping.

Which statement is true? Answer: All of the above. Where school purchases are concerned, students are a shopping bag full of contradictions!

On the one hand, students are trying to stretch their dollars. In OnCampus Research’s Back-to-School Survey, 57.2% of you admitted that you’re buying more store brands or generic products and 75.3% are doing more comparative shopping before making a purchase. Almost 83% of students said they’re shopping for deals and sales more often this year.

On the other hand, students still like to treat themselves to the good stuff. More than 46% of you said that you’re willing to spend more for quality products and a full third of students will pay more for brands they particularly favor. Almost 43% of you will top up your spending for products you really crave.

So what are the items you and your peers planned to debut on your first day back to campus? Almost 76% planned to step into fall classes wearing new clothes, 62.7% expected to sport new kicks, and 40.9% will be pimping out their dorm rooms or off-campus apartments with new furnishings. You may think you and your friends already possess every trendy gadget there is, but there is always room for more! Electronics and computer-related goodies were on the back-to-class shopping lists of 55.4% students. Almost a quarter of student respondents are budgeting more than $200 for new electronics.



Results of Electronic Book and eReader Device Survey

Electronic book purchases were made by 18% of college students within the past three months.  This was up six percent from the previous study conducted in October 2010. Similar to before, nearly six out of ten (57%) stated that the primary purpose of their e-book purchase was a required course material for class. More than one-third of students (39%) purchased an e-book specifically for leisure reading. 

Approximately 64% of the students who said they recently purchased an e-book indicated that they used a laptop computer or Netbook to read their e-book.  This was down from 77% in October 2010.   The most significant change occurred for those that used an eReader device.  Around 39% of students said they used such a device, compared to only 19% of students five months ago.  Desktop computer was selected by only 24% of students, down from 30%. On the other hand, students that used a smartphone (e.g., iPhone, Blackberry) or a tablet (e.g., iPad) remained unchanged at 20% and 4% respectively.



Factors that influence college students' decisions to try new products

Although recommendations from friends and the allure of eye-catching displays have a significant influence on your decision to try new products, college students are most persuaded to try new items by reasonable price, the product being on sale, and past experience with the brand. Free samples also help entice you.

About 40% of 18- to 24-year-old students say uniqueness of design plays a part in their decision to purchase a new product, vs. 33% of students 25 to 29, 29% of students 30 to 39, and just 21% of students 40 or older.

Celebrity endorsements have little to no influence on the college student population. In fact, only 5% of you say you're driven to try a new product just by the fact that a hip celebrity uses it.


87% Reasonable Price
74% Past experience with brand
74% On sale
59% Friend(s) recommend it
56% Free samples
52% Caught my eye in store
46% Product coupon
42% Goes well with other things I own
36% Apropriate for many occasions
36% Unique design
33% Guarantee/Warranty
28% Advertising
25% Unique Function
24% Friends own one
22% Popularity among friends
17% Magazine reviews
5% Cool celebrities own one
0% Other



Which of the following factors contribute most to brand "coolness"?
81% Quality of the product



Quality is significantly the top contributing factor to a product’s coolness. Even though quality is the top factor amongst all age groups, the importance of quality appears to increase as one ages. About 79% of 18-24 olds feel that quality is most important, and continues upward to approximately 90% of those 40+ adults finding it the most important contributing factor to the coolness of a product.

Interestingly enough, this is the only contributing factor that appears to increase with age. Majority of the factors tend to decrease as a contributing factor to coolness as age increases. Popularity amongst peers decreases the greatest as one ages, with 40% of 18-24 year olds viewing it as important, compared to 26% of 25-29 year olds, 15% of 30-39 year olds and 12% of 40+ adults.

In this study, students were asked to identify the factors they feel contribute most to the brand "coolness" of the products they typically buy.

47% Uniqueness
36% Friends use it
33% Popularity among peers
32% Experts recommend it
29% Advertising
28% Targeted to you
15% Hard to find
6% Pop icons use it
3% None of the above


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