How content streaming is shaping the back-to-college shopping season

During the back-to-school shopping season, retailers can expect students to put the usual tech items on their lists for academic purposes. Laptops, tablets, smartphones and wearables will be purchased en masse as technology becomes more essential to the classroom.

When it comes to entertainment, college students will primarily be streaming content in a variety of ways from the sanctity of their dorm rooms. Nine out of 10 of them use multiple streaming apps on a regular basis. This affinity for streaming is likely to influence their purchasing decisions when shopping for audio solutions.

Streaming And The Gen Z Student

Music consumption has changed dramatically in recent years. Most college students today consume their content digitally, most likely on their smartphones, through streaming platforms.

In addition to music, millennials and Gen Z students are listening to hundreds of thousands of podcasts for both entertainment and educational purposes. Most of them listen on a weekly basis. The demand is so large that podcasting revenue is expected to exceed $220 million in 2018.

If tablets ushered in the popularity of the e-book, streaming platforms like Audible have brought on the rising popularity of the audiobook. College-age consumers, again, contributed to the booming growth in this $2.5 billion market. As with podcasting, students listen to audiobooks for both required reading assignments and leisure.

Given an ever-growing appetite for streaming content, there’s one item that is sure to be at the top of shopping lists during this back-to-school shopping season: Wi-Fi speakers. In terms of reliability, Wi-Fi speakers provide listeners with a wider range of options for getting a lossless listening experience while multitasking. Thanks to Google, Wi-Fi speakers are more accessible with several audio companies featuring “Chromecast built-in” integration, as well as the affordable Chromecast Audio device. Chromecast is also compatible with popular streaming apps like Spotify, Tidal, Pandora and Slacker Radio.

See: Digital Assistants Shake Up The Wi-Fi Speaker Market

With more high quality and affordable solutions available, Wi-Fi speakers are the must-have product retailers need to be stocking for their college-age customers.

But when it comes to shopping for Wi-Fi speakers, should retailers throw in the towel to Amazon?

It’s no secret that online shopping, especially through Amazon, has completely changed the face of consumer electronics retailing. As a result, retailers may be discouraged from putting more resources toward the in-store experience and stocking their shelves with a variety of tech products including Wi-Fi speakers.

However, millennial and Gen Z consumers are actually shopping in-store more compared to baby boomers. They are also likely to shop for audio products in-store vs. online, to see (and hear) if the speakers they want to buy line-up with their quality standards.

As such, the onus is on retailers to make sure their customers have a variety of high quality products, especially Wi-Fi speakers, in stock for college shoppers to choose from.

Here at Spectra, we are already seeing increased demand for Wi-Fi speakers, and expect this to continue as long as content streaming remains on the upward swing among college students. Given their shopping habits, it would be a great oversight if retailers do not stock their shelves with products that this prized audience so clearly wants. Luckily, there are plenty of reputable audio companies that are more than ready to help meet this demand.

Jim Economos is sales and marketing VP at Spectra Merchandising International. Spectra and its Asia subsidiary, IMA-Hong Kong, LTD., have been a part of the consumer electronics business for the past 40 years, supplying products to every major retailer in the U.S., and conducting business across the globe.

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