Graduation Season Reveals New Market Segment: The College Mom

When we talk about marketing to moms, the newborn and baby market are usually the focus, and with good reason. The global baby care market is expected to increase its total sales to $66 billion by 2017. Numbers I’ve seen vary from $7,000 to $12,000 that parents spend on products in baby’s first year. However, there’s another segment of the mom market that deserves attention, and pops up on the radar during the May and June high school graduation season – the college mom.

Loosely interpreting numbers, there are 3.1 million U.S. high school seniors graduating over the next few weeks. More than 60% of these graduates – 1.86 million sons and daughters – will move on to a college or university for the first time for a summer semester or in autumn. What does this mean for their parents? As the graduation caps fly in the air, moms start spending on necessities their college-bound students will need to survive without them! Starting now through the college move-in, marketers have an opportunity to tap into the college mom market as they purchase everything from dorm necessities to moving services. Our recent survey results show:



•    Almost 83% of moms say they feel stressed about the college move

•    After shelling out money for graduation gifts and parties, moms spend an average of an additional $900 on necessities for dorms, apartments or student housing and another $500 - $600 in related moving costs

•     The spending (and stressing) starts when the acceptance letter arrives (40%), at high school graduation (27%) and over the summer (30%).

•    79% of moms report that their students are a car ride away, and 31% say they will visit campus two or three times. Almost 22% report that they intend to visit over six times during the academic year.

•    Almost 22% of moms surveyed say they will spend a whopping $400 or more on transportation costs for each trip to campus.

•    50% of moms say they will make from three to six shopping trips to purchase items for their students.

•    Over 52% of moms point to carrying and moving large boxes as the one task they would gladly turn over to someone else.
As the mother of three college-aged young adults, I’ve seen firsthand the opportunities for companies to connect with moms like myself who have new needs and unique services. This summer, I discovered Campus Bellhops. The company appeals to parents who want to skip the backbreaking, time-consuming task of moving their students (and their stuff) into dorms, apartments or student housing. Two Campus Bellhops moved my daughter’s boxes, clothes and even the fridge, out of her dorm last week. While I was impressed with the service and speed of the move by two students (under one hour to pack the car), I was more impressed with the idea behind this service: offering a solution for busy parents for what is one of the most dreaded tasks we face in our lives – moving. 

The other company I’ve found that appeals directly to college moms (and dads) is Redship. Although care packages are certainly not a new service, Redship delivers care packages, with plenty of choices like a healthy food package, which offers the comforts and memories of home. Like my fellow College Moms, I am open to discovering new brands as we enter a new phase of motherhood. Now it’s up to brands to connect with me while I’m searching for solutions.  Here’s a ideas on how to find me:

  • Join me on Facebook at Moms with College Kids
  • Meet me at college orientations
  • Share coupons, ideas and deals with moms who have coeds at the same college – they will share them with me
  • Make sure to find the moms on the “(Insert college name) Moms” Facebook page. I belong to West Point Moms, Clemson Parent and Missouri Moms.
4 comments about "Graduation Season Reveals New Market Segment: The College Mom".
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  1. Lisa Glover from Conversation, June 5, 2013 at 11:13 a.m.

    Maria- great perspective. The segment of mothers who are sending their 18 year olds off to college for freshman year often get bypassed when brands think of marketing to moms. Pew Research Center released a study showing that moms account for 40% of breadwinners in U.S. households. Subsequently, moms are also in the position to be spending more. Conversation recently released an infographic about the new Chief Purchasing Officer, finding that moms are spending at least $2.4 trillion a year, controlling 85% of household purchases.

    I encourage you to check it out and let us know your thoughts!

  2. Suzanne Sanders from S2 Advertising, June 5, 2013 at 11:29 a.m.

    This is great! Most Mothers of Kids graduating from College and High School are Baby Boomers. They've been celebrate with family and friends for a few days at the very least. This is a great demo to target for many reasons! Ikea makes millions off of the College Mom!

  3. Michal Clements from Insight to Action, Inc., June 5, 2013 at 12:40 p.m.

    Nice recognition that mom's impact doesn't end when the stroller is put away!

  4. Anne-marie Kovacs from Boombox Network, June 5, 2013 at 3:59 p.m.

    As Suzanne mentions, today's parents of college kids are indeed mostly Baby Boomers. As a marketer serving the (underserved) boomer segment, I'm thrilled to see more marketing copy about the "older" mom, as indeed, her focus and her interests are vastly different than those of the younger mom but no less important. Certainly, the expenditure of the Boomer mom is more economically impactful than that of young moms.

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