College students are looking for student discounts, and they are rewarding the brands that provide them with targeted offers by shopping more often at those stores, according to recent research conducted by digital affinity group verification provider ID.me. This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

The study canvassed more than 600 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 about their online shopping habits and brand loyalty, and found that some 96% of student shoppers said they would be more likely to make a repeat purchase from a brand that offers student discounts.

Analysis of the data found that while access to student discounts online is limited because most retailers do not have a way to check student IDs online, the latent demand for online student discounts is strong - 78% of students regularly spend time searching for a student discount or coupon code before making a purchase online.

Furthermore, 97% of respondents said they would probably or definitely shop online more often if student discounts were available.

Although many stores such as J.Crew and Eddie Bauer offer in-store student discount programmes for shoppers with a valid student ID, the same offers are not present online because retailers lack a way to verify the student status of online shoppers. But the survey results suggest that the lost revenue to these brands could be significant because almost 80% of students make purchases online several times a month, with 61% spending between US$51 and US$500 online.

"With 96% being more likely to shop with a brand that offers online student discounts, that should be a clear call to action for retailers that value the college-age demographic," noted Blake Hall, CEO for ID.me. "Our experience has shown that engaging affinity groups online with customized discounts and special offers has a direct correlation to brand loyalty and incremental sales."

Results have shown that retailers have a significant opportunity to increase word-of-mouth marketing by offering student discounts online. Some 95% said they were likely to tell others when a brand offers student discounts, and nearly 60% of those who had used a student discount in the preceding 30 days said they had told between 1 and 4 people about their discount. These responses suggest that retailers who offer student discounts online ahead of their competitors could capture an increased market share within the student demographic.

"Retailers are often deterred from offering online student discounts because .edu e-mails aren't available to about a third of students, and also many alumni e-mail addresses end in .edu, even though they are not eligible for student discounts. Thanks to this, fears of fraud and abuse and brand erosion lead many retailers to limit their student discount programme to bricks-and-mortar locations where ID can be physically checked," concluded Hall.