Delve into our latest set of quantitative data to discover exactly what student income looks like – as well as what students are spending their dollars on, and in what sector.
The Australian student market – a quick overview
There were an estimated 1.5 million students enrolled in higher education in Australia in 2019 – this cohort includes undergraduate university students, apprentices and post-grad students.
As a consumer demographic, Gen Z students are super valuable to engage with. Why? Not only do they love to shop, they are also at the very start of their purchasing journey – which means they’re in the midst of establishing where their brand loyalties lie.
As a brand, understanding how students navigate their spending habits and what their income looks like is crucial if you want to get the most out of this demographic. Lucky for you, we have all the numbers you need to help you boost your Gen Z marketing strategy.
Overall, a university student’s annual income amounts to just over $23,687. The average collective annual income for college students is $36 billion.
At least 48% receive income from a job, and 23% receive income from family members. With multiple sources of income students are likely to have a decent amount of disposable income, which is why around 53% of their spending goes towards non-essential items.
Students are known to be financially sensible, which means they are more inclined to research ahead of making a purchase to find the best balance between affordability and quality. In total, 90% of university students check if there is a student discount available when making a purchase.
Now that you’re clued in on student income, let’s delve into what students actually spend their dollars on.
The total university student annual spend is $19.5 billion. A university student has an average annual spend of $15,703.81, which equates to an average monthly spend of $1308.65. Typically, around $688 is spent on non-essential items in one month, while 47% of their spending is on essential items like rent, bills, groceries, household products, health, and transport.
Of course, there are some key spending periods to note, where students will be unleashing their purchasing power in full force. In preparation for Welcome Week, you’ll find most students like to do their shopping in December or January. Meanwhile, 62% make purchases during Black Friday in November – and students will likely be spending a few more dollars around key dates like Valentine’s Day, Click Frenzy, Singles’ Day, and on the run up to winter vacation.
When broken down into sectors, we found that on average, students spend $126 on restaurant and takeaway per month, $133.58 on clothes, shoes and accessories, and $60.92 on tech. Beauty products take up around $56.51 of their monthly spend, while books, stationery, and study items cost them around $68.44 per month. For sports and fitness items, the average student looks to spend around $44 in a four week period. Events and activities typically cost them $84.45 per month, while home entertainment will set them back around $76. Homewares – a big sector for the Welcome Week shopping period sees spend around $36 per month. Finally, in the travel sector, we found that in a year, students spend around $438.
Apprenticeships are a common path for young people to take in Australia, so understanding the similarities and differences between Aussie university students and apprentices is important – especially because the Australian government is investing more into apprenticeships, which means this cohort is only set to grow down the line.
Gen Z students already have an impressive amount of disposable income to put towards non-essential purchases. Apprentices typically earn even more, due to the fact that they get a much higher percentage of their income from work compared to other students. Our findings show that 61% of an apprentices monthly income typically comes from work, while just 18% comes from family, and 5% from scholarships.
Of course, pay rates for apprentices vary in different states, but in Western Australia for example, they earn $638.20 per week, increasing to $761.90 in their final year. Typically, apprentices receive $45,704.40 a year on average.
Across all sectors, apprentices are more likely to shop online than other students. Their spend per sector is fairly similar to university students – 22% of their monthly spend goes towards rent, 15% towards groceries, 14% towards restaurant and takeaway, while 13% goes towards fashion items.
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