If you are a part of a city with a college campus, you are more than aware of the curses and blessings that go along with it. While the campus can bring life to areas that were once regarded as dead and gone, they can also create challenges with demographics and infrastructure. They are a source of high paying jobs and highly educated people, while also bringing along thousands of residents that maintain zero income. Certain retail areas may spring back to life, and others might be negatively labeled and pigeon holed as a bar scene. No matter which way you look at your college campus, it can always be swayed as a positive. The students, while maintaining a zero income, can still represent massive potential buying power. The only problem is; what retail should a city with a college campus look for to satisfy existing professional residents along with the massive student population?
At Buxton, we’ve assisted a number of college towns with their “special needs”. The task for the economic development teams in these cities that seemed incredibly difficult and increasingly impossible; we have cultivated to a science. With communities like Clemson, SC (Clemson), South Bend, IN (Notre Dame), and Atlanta, GA (Georgia Tech), our mission was to identify the correct retail mix using the psychographic data of the current residents and student population. This is not as quite as easy as it sounds.
Sure, the static residents of the city are easy to spot and match retail, but how do we define the nomadic college student as a consumer? Where do we find the data and apply it to the thousands of core customer models we have created for retailers around the country?
This was the difficult challenge for the economic development departments in which is why cities like Bryan/College Station, TX (Texas A&M) and Norman, OK (University of Oklahoma) hired us to create an overall retail development strategy that doesn’t only identify their static residents, but captures the massive purchase potential of the college student. Cheers to that.