Increasing discretionary spending among college students means college advertising is essential now more than ever. If college students recognize the advantages of your product, price does not have to be the determining factor when making purchases.
College students often get classified as poor or broke and to some extent that is true. According to American Student Assistance, “there is roughly somewhere between $902 billion and $1 trillion in total outstanding student loan debt in the United States today. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports $902B while the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau reports $1T.” The majority of college students today have to take out student loans to help them with their education costs and living expenses.
That being said, students still spend money and that spending is projected to massively increase this year:
Total college market spending will grow to $405 billion this year, up 5% from $385 billion last year, details a study released in September by re:fuel. That growth will be fueled by a 40% year-over-year jump in discretionary spending, from $86 billion last year to $120 billion this year. Although some of that is based on increased enrollment of about 600,000 students, the average annual discretionary spend per student has increased by almost 37%, from $4,069 in 2011 to $5,559 this year.
This represents huge college advertising potential. With enrollments on the rise and discretionary spending climbing among the youth demographic, college advertising and college marketing are essential. On-campus marketing narrows in on this elusive demographic, bringing your college ads into students’ homes, study areas, dining halls, cafés, and hangouts. Social media marketing targets the virtual space college students inhabit. By utilizing both on-campus marketing and social media marketing, your company maximizes exposure and increases impact.
In this struggling economy, how do you get college students to spend more on your product than your competitors? By changing students’ perceptions of value and focusing on quality. Value to a typical college student often means whatever is cheapest, but this idea is not written in stone and “marketers have clearly contributed to how consumers perceive value”.  By highlighting the benefits of your brand through college advertising, college students will shift their buying habits. They need to know the perks and advantages your product has over its competitors. If they perceive that those perks justify the additional expense, they will convert; price will no longer be the determining factor. Building value through college advertising will help you gain customers.
 “Student Loan Debt Statistics”. American Student Assistance.
 MarketingCharts Staff. “Total College Student Discretionary Spending Up 40% This Year”. MC Marketing Charts. 18 Sept. 2012
 Creamer, Matthew and Maureen Morrison. “How P&G, Ford and Wendy’s Are Redefining Value”. AdvertisingAge. 22 April 2013.