Gift registries aren’t just for newlyweds and young parents. Retailers such as Bed Bath & Beyond are seeing wide success using registries to attract college freshmen preparing for their academic careers.
Bed Bath & Beyond’s college gift registries and advice for adjusting to dorm living helps the retailer “capture as much spending as possible from what is essentially a one-time spending event—going off to college,” says Nikki Baird, analyst for market intelligence firm Retail Systems Research. “Kids need a lot of stuff in what is theoretically the last chance for families to pitch in and provide something for ‘children’ who are essentially going off to become adults.”
The strategy helps build loyalty with college students before they even start their first semester.
“If your parent drags you to Bed Bath & Beyond to fill out a registry and you get a bunch of cool stuff for your dorm or your apartment as a result, then you’re likely to think of that retailer first when you need more household items in the future,” Baird says.
Bed Bath & Beyond’s gift registry is an omnichannel effort
To help students set up a registry, Bed Bath & Beyond provides an online checklist of the essentials needed for college living. This includes bedding and electronics as well as kitchen and dining must-haves The site offers decorating tips to help students furnish their dorms, including a college “look book” with engaging photos for home decor inspiration.
The retailer also provides a free service that allows students to shop in a store near their home and pick up their purchases at a store near their school. In stores, so-called college experts are available to help students round out their shopping lists.
On the social media front, Bed Bath & Beyond has a YouTube channel that offers tips for students about storage solutions, cooking tutorials, and advice on how to live with a roommate. User-generated content is also encouraged, allowing students to share snapshots of their dorms in an online photo gallery.
Gift registries are catching on among other retailers
Bed Bath & Beyond has some competition when it comes to hooking college students for life. Target has a similar registry and features “college stylists” in company-sponsored YouTube videos that provide dorm design advice. Target also introduced a chatbot on a messaging app called Kik to suggest college-related products to students.
Other retailers like Walmart and Amazon allow college students to set up wish lists. In fact, Amazon has implemented its own impressive omnichannel student strategy.
According to Baird, providing registries for college students is a wise move, especially considering the magnitude of the major life event.
“It’s a purchase event on the order of buying a new house and needing to furnish it, which for most people happens like two to three times in a lifetime,” she says. “It’s important for the retailer to be able to capture as much of that spending as possible, and a registry makes that easier.”