Social Media & Influencers: The Game-Changers of College Life!

With viral TikTok trends including #GRWM (132.5B+ views), #BamaRush (2.8B+ views), and dorm room tours, college students are changing up the typical Back-to-School shopping list inspired by social media.

In fact, a new survey from Rakuten, the leading shopping destination for Cash Back and rewards, in partnership with Rakuten Insight, the trusted research partner for Asia, U.S. & Beyond, just found that 87% of college-aged students agree that social media influences the purchases they make when preparing for the school year.

 Forget school supplies like notebooks, pens and binders leading Back-to-School shopping lists. Students are now shopping for makeup and skincare products to perfect their daily beauty routine for Back-to-School.  Notably, 65% of college students have purchased beauty products for the school year specifically inspired by TikTok’s #GRWM (“Get Ready With Me”) content.

Social Media, Influencers & Specific Campaigns Shaping College Students’ Back-to-School Shopping

  • ○ Social media: 87% (Top2Box) agree that social media has influenced back-to-school purchases
  • ○ Influencers: 71% of college students either fully agree or somewhat agree that TikTok influencers have impacted their dorm room purchase decisions
  • ○ Specific campaigns such as #GRWM & # BamaRushTok are influencing purchases

Whilst there is concern over back-to-school expenses, only 3% plan to spend less and 67% are willing to pay extra for ‘social media worthiness.’

Parental Support, Social Media Influence, and Economic Concerns in Back-to-School Shopping for Students

  • ○ Even though college students feel they are paying from their own savings, 78% of parents provide financial support to their child & 64% of parents provide ideas
  • ○ The impact of Social Media on Back-to-School shopping for parents of students is clear:
    • • Social media: Platforms such as TikTok & Instagram provide purchase ideas for 60% of parents
    • Over half of parents (56%) feel under pressure to keep up with back-to-school social media trends
  • ○ The economic climate is on the minds of parents of college-age children:
    • • 82%  either much or slightly more concerned than in previous years
    • • 90% would appreciate any savings through cashback or discounts to help with the expense

The landscape of Back-to-School shopping for college students is undergoing a significant transformation as social media, influencers, and targeted campaigns converge. While expenses remain a valid concern, the allure of being “social media worthy” is driving the majority of students to carefully prioritise their purchases. Furthermore, parental support and guidance play a crucial role in this process, creating a dynamic interplay between social media influence, parental involvement, and economic factors. As a result, the shopping experience is constantly evolving, adapting to the ever-changing dynamics influenced by these factors.

Download the results here!

U.S. – Back-to-College Survey

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Related articles: Impact of Inflation on US Consumers, Apps Usage in Asia & the U.S.

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