"Buying behavior" is one of those marketing buzzwords that corporations have spent millions of dollars on focus groups and independent studies in an attempt to understand.
Put simply, buying behavior is the series of decisions people make before purchasing and using a product. This is understandably important for sales and marketing departments to understand when making marketing decisions in retail, but for school stores, this has a doubly important connotation: your students' buying behaviors can have a direct impact on their ability to learn and succeed in the classroom.
After all, even 78% of students agree that having their books improves their success in class. So what are your students' buying behaviors, and how can you address them to ensure they acquire their course materials on time?
Understanding students' buying behavior
Students are still consistently acquiring course materials, according to the NACS Foundation's Spring 2015 Student Watch™ Attitudes & Behaviors toward Course Materials study. In 2015, 85% of students purchased at least one book or course material on their list.
However, they also observed a decrease in acquisition from Fall 2014 to Spring 2015 — the average student bought, rented, borrowed or otherwise acquired between one or two fewer books in the spring term, despite taking the same number of classes on average.
What's the cause for the drop-off? 45% of students listed price as the reason for not obtaining their required course materials. What's more interesting is the second-most common reason: 30% of students simply didn't feel those course materials were needed.
Students also frequently showroom. A whopping 82% of students research their sources of course materials before shopping, and more than 55% of all students research their options across online retailers before making a purchasing or renting decision.
NACS also found that online shoppers were buying or renting their course materials at least two to four weeks ahead of the start of class.
How can your school use this to improve student learning outcomes?
While you've just read that many factors come into play when students decide if, how and when they'll acquire their books and digital materials, price is still one of the top choice-drivers for students. In some cases, getting books in your students' hands may be as simple as offering more choice of formats, including used books, eBooks and rentals.
You can decrease costs to students by anywhere from 25-90% just by submitting adoption lists early and enabling options like rental or even marketplace pricing within your Online Bookstore, ensuring MBS Direct has time to source an adequate number of low-cost options for your school.
Being conscious about your adoptions can go a long way in making your course materials both more affordable, and building the reputation that your required materials are in fact required. If students know that their materials are part of a package hand-selected by their professor, they're more likely to trust that their content will be used in class.