Just last week Target announced it would be setting up an online gift registry for college students. The service is not yet available in-store, but what it means it that parents can set up a subscription service online to send their kids any products off their Target registry – from toothpaste to sheets.

Target launches college registry

Now, this is a smart marketing idea in so many ways. The advantage to the customer is that parents can control what kids are spending by ordering the products for the student instead of parents giving their kids the money to buy these items on their own.

For Target, it is a great way to guarantee both repeat business and frequent business. They are essentially asking parents to make Target the sole supplier to their away-from-home college student. And by offering it as a registry (like a wedding registry), more people can buy for the student besides the parents (such as grandparents) and again, it’s all from Target.

According to Crux Research, last year US college students spent $13.1 billion on clothing and shoes, $7.6 billion on personal care products and $4.9 billion on cosmetics, so this a not a market your small business should be ignoring. Maybe you’re not large enough to start a registry service, but there are other ways to attract this market.

Ways to Target the College Crowd:

  • Offer a special discount card just for college students (as well as for parents of college students) even as much as 10% would be appreciated.
  • Offer students a free $10 gift card (for your store) for every friend they send your way.
  • Offer free shipping on their first purchase, if they are ordering from you online.
  • Offer a free service to a student in exchange for purchase. For example, if you are selling them a laptop, offer to do a free monthly backup if they bring the laptop in.
  • Offer discounts when more people buy. For example, a restaurant could offer a 10% discount off the bill if a college student crowd of 5 or more comes in for a meal.
  • Give an item for free that will promote your business to more students, such as a free “Do Not Disturb” door hanger that has your business name on it.
  • Give away a free download a future college student would appreciate, like an Applying to College Checklist, that, again, has your business name on it.
  • Give away a free download that a parent who has a student going off to school would appreciate, such as a College Supply/ Dorm Room Checklist.

College students and their parents are a lucrative market that is spending, so think of how they could be potential customers for your small business.