Running a small business targeting majorly students as customers can get tricky a lot. Figuring out what college students need, and been able to provide it at the lowest possible cost can be a major break for your small business in a university. But it gets harder when you don’t exactly understand what’s on their college checklist.
What do college students need or want?
Before a student decides what to take to college, they consider their potential full semester experience. They think of how their stay on campus would go for that semester, and after identifying their basic needs, they draw up their college checklist and write out items like their dorm room essentials, academic essentials, feeding allowances, miscellaneous charges, and general college essentials.
Here Are 10 Things Most College Students Need, Want, And Can’t Stop Buying:
For every course taken in a semester, college students are required to own at least one textbook to cover it. An ideal student who takes their courses and semester seriously always purchases all the required textbooks, many other students buy just a few, and totally unserious students don’t buy any at all.
Students mostly prefer to buy their textbooks from the college bookstore, but would divert their purchase if they can get them somewhere else on campus for a lot lesser. Setting up a bookstore on campus that sells cheap textbooks or used textbooks will get students coming your way to buy the books they need for the semester.
If the books are too expensive, you can offer a textbook rental service to the college students. Some would rent a textbook for a price more than 10 times lower than the original price just for the semester. Textbook rentals are getting popular in countries like the United States, but in Nigeria for instance, most students prefer to buy their textbooks than rent them.
Aside from selling textbooks in a physical store, you can also sell them online. Selling textbooks online works efficiently in just a few parts of the world; especially countries in the Western world. In Africa, the model isn’t currently feasible.
If college students can compare textbook prices between yours and what is sold in their college campuses, you’d gain a lot of customers; as long as what you sell costs a lot less.
If you own a school, a college, or are even a tutor, this totally applies to you. College and high school fees are on an ever rising spiral. The average cost of a privately owned college’s tuition never goes down. It only gets higher. This upward trend in every tuition fee only negatively affects the student’s financial capacity to pay, but favours the owners of the school.
The same applies to tutors. Private tutors could easily increase the cost of their tuition and fees slightly, if they notice the general market costs are going higher. Since they provide the service from their intellectual prowess and not by acquiring some product, the increase in their home tuition fee only favours them better. If a bulk of parents are adamant to force down the cost of home tuition fees, adjusting slightly to the trend still wouldn’t be difficult for the home tutors because, what they offer is a service and not a product.
Having the power to increase tuition fees, whether for a university, a high school, home tutoring, or online tutoring, is a great way to earn more income when your financial demands warrant it.
Every human must feed! That’s why a lot of people take out time to prepare meals through the day for themselves, friends, and their families.
The drawback to meal preparation falls heavily on most college students. They hate to cook! This very reason drives them to always patronise canteens and fast-food restaurants around campus.
As a small business owner in a university, you can offer food services to college students. Preparing meals based on popular college recipes that students regularly go for would place your small business on the minds of many college students whenever they want to get a quick meal. Make sure the college food you sell smells great, tastes unbelievable, and leaves a lasting impression on the minds of the students.
With a consistent premium meal service delivery, your college restaurant would be bound for success.
Whenever a new semester or academic year begins, students scamper around to secure a good accommodation on campus. Most of the hostel booking is done as early as the semester starts or online, via the university portal.
When the student rooms are filled up, those that are yet to get rooms have no other choice than to secure a student accommodation in privately held hostels.
In Federal and state owned universities in Nigeria for instance, most students prefer to get student apartments off campus. The bulk of these students usually prefer cheap accommodation, and would pay year-in year-out as long as the hostels are far better and more secure than whatever is on campus.
Setting up an off-campus university accommodation is a great way to take advantage of something college students need, to create a lucrative business opportunity.
5. School Supplies:
School supplies are crucial needs for every student in a college, high school, and even primary school. When the semester is resuming, a lot of parents scamper around trying to get various “back to school supplies” for their kids. As for those in college, they mostly get their school supplies themselves.
These supplies could range from anything like provision sets, to a few fashion items, to many other random items. Since most students are always inclined to purchase these items, they mostly never get them at home till they get to school.
Providing cheap school supplies to college students when a semester is starting would give your small business a boost in terms of customer acquisition, long-term customer retention, and sales.
6. Soda And Alcohol:
Many students cannot go a day with taking a bottle of Coca-Cola, Pepsi, or even any form of soda or alcohol. Soda is probably one of the top things that eat-up the allowances of most college students. With most meals they have, they drink a bottle of soda. Irrespective of the sugar contents these soft drinks contain, students would always choose to drink these together with their meals.
The same applies to a liquor store. Most students spend their evenings drinking lots of alcohol. The Guiness brand for instance is most popular amongst individuals in their mid-20s in Nigeria. Irrespective of the fact that uncontrolled alcoholism is bad for any individual, selling liquor and alcohol as licensed by the government, is still a great way to make a lot of money from college students above the required age.
With a small business like a restaurant, selling various forms of soda and alcohol will increase your business revenues. Soda may not be something college students need, but it’s definitely something they can’t stop buying!
Almost every college student owns a laptop computer. It may not be a high-end computer, but they own one. Getting students to purchase your laptop computers could be a far stretch because of the high-costs, and the longevity of an already-owned computer.
This then puts the laptop deals opportunity on the freshmen. When new students get into college for their first year, part of what they’d acquire is a laptop computer. These computers usually cost a lot of money, and so, they mostly look for cheap laptops for students. Some go as far as trying to cut costs by comparing laptops. They sometimes do this by looking for the best laptop deals focused on refurbished laptops. While a few others go for gaming laptops.
While trying to sell computers to college students may get a bit tricky because of their financial status, especially in Nigeria, one thing you could do is to work through their college department to provide them cheap laptops to be fully repaid over a period of time.
8. Mobile Phones:
Mobile phones are the most personal devices owned by almost everyone, especially students. These devices are one of the most important things college students need and want. They strive to buy the latest mobile phones every time there’s a newer version on the market, irrespective of if they’re fully able to financially accommodate the latest version of their device or not.
Many other more prudent students compare mobile phones prices, and end up picking the best mobile phone deals they can find. While buying cheap mobile phones could have a heavy functionality downside than if you buy a premium device, many students frankly don’t care. In Nigeria, this is a large norm, but in countries in the western world, the situation is a bit different with so many college students clamouring for expensive Apple devices.
If you’re setting up a small business on campus to sell mobile phones, ensure you have a lot of cheap mobile phones that have great features. An example of such devices are low-end Samsung mobile phones and Techno mobile phones.
Offering the right phones for sale would ensure you constantly generate some cashflow-positive income with every passing semester.
9. Dorm Room Essentials:
Dorm room essentials like bed sheets, curtains, rugs, electric lamps, and more are important things college students need. They always purchase these items to put their rooms or apartments in order. Some go as far as beautifying their rooms with even flashier unnecessary items.
Ladies especially, constantly come up with spontaneous dorm room ideas, and so, a bulk of the time, their dorm bedding, decorations, and all always cost a lot of money. Their creative state only puts more money in the bank for small business that sell cheap dorm room decorations that look fabulous.
Setting up a small business that focuses majorly on dorm room essentials, and is located close to the female hostels is a great idea to start up, if you’re trying to provide products and services that college students need.
A lot of college students always flock to parties. Most times not minding who’s hosting it, or what’s directly happening. As long as they hear music, they’re already there.
Taking advantage of most college student’s crave to party, to sell some of your items is a smart move. At parties and clubs, they buy all types of things: from alcohol, to small chops, to many other items they have a craving for.
Understanding and experiencing the college student’s behaviour at any party or night club will show you better insights into what they buy, and how they respond to products or services offered.
The college student is a great individual that poses multiple business opportunities for small business owners. By studying them closely and watching what they do, how they do it, and why they do it, you can come up with several products and services that you’re sure they’d want to pay for.
Identifying what college students need wouldn’t just help you make better small business decisions on campus, but would ensure you have a constant in-flow of income.
Excerpt from startuptipsdaily.com