What Segmentation Can Tell You About Your College-aged Customers

Big data empowers retailers to gather information about everything customers do, both online and in their stores. The challenge is breaking down that information in a way that can help brands better understand and target specific groups, such as college students.

This is where segmentation comes in. Brands that segment their consumer data by income level, geography, and digital habits can quickly amass the data they need to target specific college students.

Follow the Money

Not all students spend the same. Marketing directly to students with more disposable income can bring early success to any marketing campaign.

Resources like StartClass by Graphiq help brands segment college student consumers by family income level and target specific colleges. Compare your results among various market segments to determine which students at which universities may be most likely to purchase your products.

Understand Geography

Products that seem universal can appeal to customers in one region of the country over another. demonstrates how a customer in one region of the U.S. may have entirely different needs than a customer in other regions.

For example, a student in Minnesota might purchase flannel bedding or thick comforters for a dorm room, while another in Louisiana might spend on a fan or swimwear for laying out on the quad. Many college students also travel back and forth from separate climates as they spend summers, holidays, and long weekends at home.

Segmenting by state can thus help brands market seasonal or climate-related gear to the exact students who need it.

Identify Student Digital Habits

Segmenting students by their digital habits can help brands identify exactly how to reach those consumers.

According to a study from Bowling Green State University, college students respond more readily to text message and social media than email. Some 85 percent of the students say they checked their email once a day, paying particular attention to messages from professors. This suggests that brands that communicate with student consumers via email and text will likely get their attention.

However, segmentation by digital habit can go even deeper. The same BGSU study found that students fall into one of two categories: instant communicator and content curators. In the former group, students move toward Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, where they can communicate directly with friends. The latter group spends more time on sites like YouTube and Tumblr, where they seek to be entertained.

Brands can use data on student social media use to infer which marketing strategy to roll out—short awareness campaigns for Facebook and Twitter, and long form content marketing for YouTube and Tumblr.

To learn more about college students and their digital behavior, check out our infographic on where students shop online.