If you have had any experience with having a college-age child, you probably know all too well that most have very healthy appetites. All the studying and running around they do can really build up an appetite. Remember the old saying about college student’s gaining their “freshman 15”? But gone are the days where greasy fries or a bag of chips will suffice as the main food options for college students. Today’s students are seeking healthier and more flavorful food and beverage choices that are easy on their budget.
What Today’s Students Want in Food Options
College students are seeking variety in their food options. There has been a trend toward relying on off-premise foodservice for many of their meals instead of college dining programs because many have been slow to expand their offerings. Students are beginning to rely more on having food delivered to their doorsteps even when there are convenient locations nearby to grab food. The driver behind this trend is the demand for speedy service, especially when students have tight schedules between classes, jobs, extracurriculars and studying.
Price plays a big factor in food options for college students. In fact, 3 out of 5 students interviewed in Technomic’s “2017 College & University Consumer Trend Report” said that they look for low prices when deciding where they are going to eat. Having to stick to a budget can limit students’ ability to purchase healthy meals and snacks. But this has also benefitted quick-serve establishments.
Healthier food choices are on the top the list for college students, but this no longer includes smoothies or juices that were previously big sellers among this market. Fast food options like breakfast burritos are also on the outs with today’s students. They are more adventurous about trying different cuisines, including Mediterranean, Thai, Indian or French. But most notably, they want healthy snacks like fruit and leaner meat options, like chicken, for dinner.
Students have even changed how they are choosing their preferred beverages. Today, students want water or healthy sports beverages with their meals, which mesh well with student athletes on high-protein diets.
Adding Food Options for College Students
Whether you are running a C-store location on or near a college campus, it’s time to rethink how you are serving this growing market. And if your quick serve choices aren’t geared toward the latest trends in food options for college students, you are missing out on this important market. C-stores are in the best position for capturing increased traffic from students by offering quick grab and go meals and snacks that are both healthy and flavorful.