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College Students Present a Significant Opportunity for C-stores

HOUSTON -- College students aged 18-24 spent approximately $5.2 billion on convenience store products during 351.4 million visits to c-stores in the 12 months that ended in June 2012, reported The NPD Group in its new report, "Making the Grade: Student Consumer Impact on the Retail Fuels and Convenience Marketplace."

The population of full- and part-time college students is currently at 19 million, with their discretionary spending reaching $76 billion last year, resulting in significant opportunities for c-stores to attract these young adults and build brand affinity, according to NPD. The new report examines how c-stores can capitalize on opportunities to attract college students, 31.9 percent of whose c-store purchases are an impulse buy, compared to 22.7 percent of other c-store shoppers' purchases.

Additionally, college students make up approximately four percent of the fuel-buying population in the U.S. and purchase fewer gallons per month than the average consumer, likely related to less driving, according to the report, which includes findings from NPD's Motor Fuels Index and Convenience Store Monitor research services. Student fuel brands usage is more centralized around major oil gasoline brands instead of high-volume retailers such as hypermarket and grocery store gas retailers.

"Students with money to spend represent a growing population -- and a significant opportunity -- worth convenience store marketers' attention," stated David Portalatin, NPD's director of industry analysis. "Opportunities exist for c-store retailers to tap into student impulse purchasing through strategic product placement, bundling, loyalty programs, and dealing to increase student purchasing."

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