5 Back to School Gen Z Spending Habits

For US students, the Back to School season is just around the corner (we know, it feels like it gets earlier every year!). And the return to education means it’s time for brands to reach out to and engage with college students to influence spending habits and build brand loyalty. 

With a new academic year comes new spending habits, something that’s going to be particularly pertinent this year thanks to rising inflation. In fact, 69% of students will be using money from their savings and 52% will be using student loans to finance their 2023 return. 

Voxburner, the Student Beans insights agency, have recently released their latest snapshot, Back to School 2023: Your Ultimate USA Guide. This free snapshot includes exclusive insights, looks at Gen Z student priorities for the year ahead, shares where students are spending their money, and discusses how brands can best reach them. 

Why is understanding student spending habits important for your marketing strategy?

This cohort of students are tomorrow’s spenders, so it’s key for brands to understand Gen Z shoppers whilst they’re still in college. This is particularly important when we consider how fierce the competition for student spending is – if brands want to engage Gen Z consumers, campaigns and marketing need to be tailored to perfection.

Group of college students looking very happy talking at the school and laughing

Our key piece of advice? Student discounts and deals, of course! Brands should ensure they incentivize spending and offer value to stand out from the crowd. Sandrah, a Gen Zer who appeared on the Student Beans panel What College Students Really Want From Campus Advertising at Voxburner’s YMS NYC event, said: “I love brands with a really good loyalty program, something cheesy that you’re really gonna love. Anywhere with a student discount, I’m gonna check it out!” Make sure you get in touch with the Student Beans team now to discover how your brand can attract and engage students. 

But what sectors are catching Gen Z students’ attention, what are they shopping for, and where should you be focusing your marketing efforts? 

5 things Gen Z students plan to spend their money on this summer 

  1. Clothes, shoes, and entertainment (59%)
  2. Health and beauty (45%)
  3. Entertainment (41%)
  4. Nights out (35%)
  5. Tech or mobile (21%)

Case study: How Bed, Bath & Beyond struck marketing gold

Homeware brand Bed, Bath & Beyond  continues to master its Back to School marketing, supporting new and current college students to ensure that they’re stylishly kitted out at all times. The retailer has launched their College Savings Pass for the second time, which gives students 20% off their entire purchase every time they shop. 

Two men and a woman talking and laughing in a coffee shop while drinking coffee and eating breakfast together

So there you have it – five things Gen Z students will be spending money on this summer ahead of their return to college. Youth marketers: you’ve been warned! Start promoting those discounts and deals now and watch your student engagement soar. 

And there’s more where that came from! Be sure to download the Back to School 2023: Your Ultimate USA Guide snapshot to access more insights, case studies, and upcoming trends.

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