Alumni of top national universities: Buying Habits

A survey was conducted by Alumni Reader Panel and qSample to investigate the buying habits of alumni of top national universities. 1,964 respondents completed the survey. Universities represented in this survey are: University of Chicago, Yale, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, Harvard,  Dartmouth, Cornell, and Brown. Succeeding three charts summarize the demographics of the respondents by each school:




In a bigger picture, 4.4% were Millennials, 23% were Generation X, 72.6% were a mix of Boomers and Silent Generation. In addition, survey respondents were predominantly males (66.5%). Prior to discussing the buying habits of alumni, an important limitation to acknowledge is that there is an insufficient amount of data to categorize the demographic of respondents from the results. For instance, if respondents were asked a question about brand loyalty and given four choices, the results were simply netted by counts. Thus, we could not identify what percentage of the total counts stemmed from which generation or gender. With that in mind, here are the findings (note: data are shown in average of eight schools as there were no significant statistical outliers – margin of error is approximately +/- 5%):

They are brand loyal:


91.6% of respondents agreed that when they find a brand they like, they will stick to it. Furthermore, 90.4% agreed that if a product is made by a company they trust, they are willing to purchase at a premium price. These two independent results revealed a correlation coefficient of 0.994. What this indicates is that brand loyal consumers become price desensitized, allowing the brands to obtain greater pricing power. In addition, 66.1% of consumers are aware that brand name is not the best indication of quality (see below):


Although the survey revealed that these consumers are highly brand loyal, behavioral data portion of the survey showed what might be advantageous to competitors with potential substitute products. 99.1% of respondents indicated that they value “curiosity wanting to explore and learn about new things”. Since a mere 25.8% agreed that they are one of the first among their friends to try new product, word of mouth (through peers) would likely be their most trusted source of advertisement.

They are willing to pay at premium for quality not image:


Respondents were asked to answer the following: “I am typically willing to pay more for high-quality items” and “I would pay extra for a product that is consistent with the image I want to convey”. As there is no direct correlation between these two factor, the correlation coefficient is 0.224. Although we do not have to access to the respondents’ income distribution, as 88.7% of respondents are willing to pay at premium for quality, it may be safe to assume that price is not much of a concern as long the product quality meet their standards. Interestingly, even though only 42.8% agreed to buy products to convey self-image, a striking 65% had expressed that they buy from brands that reflect their style (see below):

styleTherefore, it is critical for brands to identify the lifestyles of their target audience to effectively form bonds and trust with the consumers.

They prefer American products:


60.5% of respondents agreed that purchasing American-made products is an important factor. “Made in America” label has its strong manufacturing reputation, and considering that majority of these consumers value trust and quality, they are most likely willing to pay premium price for American-made products. As a matter of fact, 82.9% agreed that their purchase decision is solely based on quality rather than price.

Moving forward, blog posts will focus on buying habits and decision factors in specific industries (technology, travel/hospitality, healthcare, etc.).







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