Most tertiary students are not earning a living, yet they have money to spend. They are buyers – a strong demand for goods and services that easily runs into millions of dollars when put together. Do not be misled by the pettiness that characterizes most of their purchases, when compared to the working class.
An insight into the spending patterns and habits of these tertiary students is a valuable tool for businesses and advertisers – online and offline.
The common things student spend their money on while in school are
Calls and Internet
Students are usually youthful and the youth in them is eager to engage and interact with others. This is where the countless messaging apps like whatsapp, imo, telegram, viber etc come to play. Classes have groups on any communication app possible.
These groups can be useful in sharing information on assignments, dates and venues for classes and any academic information. More often than not however it is a platform for ridiculously fun conversations. Pictures, videos, long chain messages and old jokes tagged Pasco are very dominant. There are minor power struggles for the administrative position. “My class has 2 whatsapp groups, another on telegram. We share both academic and non-academic contents on the group pages. The non-academic contents are more engaging – discussions lasts longer and are fun than academic contents.”- a student at Central University College said.
Students are willing to spend their last cedi to keep in touch with their friends, and sometimes family. Voice calls are not entirely a thing of the past, video calls are catching on except with sometimes terrible internet that results in delayed voice and stills. Students said they consume at least GHc1 a day on both voice and data.
Telecom giants in Ghana have seen and seized this strong opportunity to tailor services to the youth, who are obsessed with social media and internet-based messaging – most of them tertiary students- by providing solutions such as Vodafone X and Tigo tribe to lessen the financial burden of constantly using the internet for social media and messaging. Social media and messaging under some of these packages are at very low rates or free.
Home cooked food is always a delight. In University however, you either grab a plate or pack from food vendors or buy ingredients to do the cooking yourself.
Buying food is the easiest option for most. Over 75% of the students prefer to buy food because they don’t seem to have enough time juggling between schoolwork, leisure and extracurricular activities. Boys do more buying than cooking unless a lady offers to cook for them. A few exceptions exist where a guy does cook and enjoys. “Then there are the snacks we like to munch on in between classes and at night” whilst playing with their phones and tablets
Although cooking on campus is a less costly option, students do not have the time to do it. Many food vendors, restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses in the provision of food and related services have sited on campuses or near campuses to take advantage of the strong demand for food. Each student on the surveyed campus spends about GHc10 a day on food.
Many learn how to look corporate and dress the part in university. Some courses require you to dress a certain type of way. Freshmen quickly learn the power of self-presentation and begin to adjust. How you look will determine how people address you. So a little extra to look good in a blazer or rock those oxfords is worth it. It was quite surprising to note that some student award schemes award students with style – so the hard work doesn’t go unnoticed.
The Hip folk would be in any trend that comes out. Shoes, shirts, jeans, skirts amidst all the adjustments they come with and fancy names they are given take a decent percentage of a student’s capital. At least a quarter of their money is spent on looking good and presentable. It’s just a campus culture.
Contraceptives and Sex Appeal
This may sound surprising but you would know it’s not surprising if you come to terms with the fact that campus life to some extent, reflects the real world out there. Students on campus are putting efforts into looking good to attract the opposite sex – a natural phenomenon. But they are actually investing in it. Trying to look good, spending money on phones that captures and display crisp images to be used for their profile pictures on social media and messaging apps. Ladies are spending on facial make-ups and hair. Guys are spending on body building and grooming. Purchase of contraceptives and aphrodisiacs by students is an old practice on University campuses, but perhaps, it’s seeing more patronage in recent times. The guys are leading in the physical purchases whereas ladies are leading in the quest to look good – at least in pictures.
Repairs and Maintenance
Each day, students have something to repair, mend or do some form of maintenance work on. Shoes, clothing, phones and computers, cars, etc are among the many personal items that students unfortunately damage – either by accident or negligence. Either way, it’s an opportunity for the tailor, phone and laptop repairer, laundry man, etc to provide their services for ready cash.
Books and Academic Materials
It is the major reasons why students go to school, yet students are not spending large amounts on physical books. They are reading online – channeling that expenditure to online book stores, youtube, linkedin, online tuition like coursera and others. However, students on Ghanaian campuses still buy handouts, pens, notepads and other materials necessary to learn and pass exams. Stationery is thus a major sell on campus – quite obvious though.
Tertiary education is one of the highest levels of intellectual training, yet the studies found that students in universities are spending less on their own education. Books are essential to their education and form the backbone of the knowledge they wish to acquire. Books appear to be the most expensive items to purchase in the life of a student but the accumulated costs on other items however far exceed the instant cost of a book.
Many businesses in Ghana are taking advantage of the spending habits and patterns of tertiary students to make some money, promote their products and develop their business. There are several other businesses that will thrive on campus that have not been included in this article. You may find them in subsequent releases.