SOURCE: fluent


August 25, 2015 09:00 ET

Fluent Student Survey Profiles the New "Streaming Generation" for Back to School

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwired - Aug 25, 2015) - As college students and their spending dollars head back to campus, a new profile of the post-Millennial college student is emerging that should trigger subtle yet profound changes on the brand marketing front. College marketing and insights firm Fluent ( has released new data based on a national survey of more than 540 students that reveals how today's college student demographic is taking the lead on living the digital life -- making choices based on limited budgets moment-by-moment in "streaming" mode.

"Our data shows that today's college students straddle two different generations -- the last of the Gen Ys and the beginning of the Gen Zs -- each with their own influences, preferences and values," said Michael Carey, EVP of Fluent, an agency that specializes in "translating" brands for the college world. "To relate to this newer group of post-Millennials (Gen Zs) that are 'always on,' tempted every second by the next best thing and willing to take risks, brands need to become part of the stream and serve up engagement in a perpetual and experimental way. It's this type of engagement that will have a lasting impact on this younger streaming generation in the long run."

This infographic summarizes the survey highlights. Below are key details on the New College Student Profile:

Rebels without a Pause

  • While not surprisingly, when it comes to screen time and entertainment, most college students (52%) are streaming media (TV, video and movies) on their laptops while 89% admit to binge watching, jumping from multiple episodes of a television program on Netflix to videos on YouTube in rapid succession.

  • Interestingly, 61% of respondents feel they spend too much time on their mobile devices, although 37% are content with their screen time.

  • When asked how many hours a day this generation spends on their mobile devices:
    • 41% said 1-5 hours
    • 35.5% said 6-10 hours
    • As many as 16% spend 11-15 hours on their device per day

  • The survey respondents reported using social apps on their mobile devices most frequently at 78.3%; messaging apps were next in popularity at 47%; music apps at 43.8%; gaming at 27.5%; and travel apps at 26%

  • Some 73% of survey respondents said they don't use dating apps and 90% don't use dating websites. 61% admitted to having snooped around on a significant other's phone.

  • When it comes to guilty pleasures:
    • Nearly half of respondents (45%) admit to having tried marijuana
    • The other half, at 47% don't use drugs
    • The majority, up to 89% don't smoke cigarettes
    • Ice cream (16%), pizza (12%), french-fries (13%), and chocolate (11.9%) were pretty evenly distributed as some of their top snacking choices

Travel Light

  • When these younger Millennial college students were asked about money preferences: 16% responded they don't carry cash, 29% use their mobile phone as their source of payment and 35% don't use credit cards.

  • When it comes to preferences in mobile device, the one item that is always in tow 24/7, 65% use iPhones and 31% have Androids

  • For mobile providers they use for wireless services:
    • 35% use Verizon, primarily because families are paying and using provider.
    • 29% use AT&T
    • 16% use T-Mobile

Thinking Thrifty and Moment-by-Moment

  • Data results reflect this audience's childhood in the recent deep recession: financially nervous, savvy on some aspects of financial management and naïve in other ways.
    • 77% are employed, and 38% said they would work even if they won the lottery.
    • Financial vehicles they use are checking accounts (87%), savings (73%), online banking services (59%), credit cards (55%) then loans (44%). Only 20% have money in investments like stocks or mutual funds.
    • Some 65% have less than $1000 in an emergency fund. Yet 80% of them save 10% or more of their income.
    • Students accurately report what is most important in determining credit scores (payment history), and their first largest purchases after college (of $2000 or more) would be paying off debt (29%), investing in a car (28%) a home (16%) or putting money directly into savings (13%)
    • Yet if in a position to invest money, students were not well educated on the best vehicles to maximize their money. 23% said they'd put money into savings accounts, 22% admitted they weren't sure, 20% chose stocks. All other options, including IRAs, came in with less than 7% of the tally.

The Secret Thrill of Stores... and Driving

  • When it comes to shopping, it's all about the wallet as well as style. While they have definite opinions on favorite brands, they are not brand loyal and don't buy as often as they might like.
    • 80% shop for clothes or beauty products only twice a month... or less.
    •  75% pay for these items from their own money rather than get money from parents, and 63% pay with debit rather than credit (28%).
    • Surprisingly, offline in-store experiences offer a bigger high (at 62%) over online (at 38%).

  • And 57% of students own or lease a car and 50% prefer driving as their primary mode of transportation (although public transportation bugs them -- not an in-the-moment experience they value).

The survey of 540+ national college Millennials was conducted between the dates of May 4-19, 2015 by Fluent.

Specializing in "translating brands for the college world," Fluent works with clients who want to understand and engage College Millennial Consumers (CMCs) nationwide, both on- and off-campus. With a network encompassing more than 1,000 colleges and universities, Fluent's capabilities include campus activities and programs, College Millennial Consumer insights, digital and social media strategy and activations, and experiential programs. Clients have included major brands such as Kellogg's, Microsoft, Macy's, Keurig, Jack in the Box, Skype, Zipcar, Kotex, Dove and L'Oreal. For more information, visit:

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