International Students Represent a High Value Customer for U.S. Brands



Campus Bookstores Connect International Students With U.S. Brands


The international student population on U.S. college campuses continues to grow and has reached record numbers. The Institute of International Education, Inc. reports that in 2015-16, there were more than one million international students enrolled at American colleges and universities. Students from China make up nearly a third of international enrollments at 31.5%, followed by students from India, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Canada.


Adjusting to Life on the American Campus

International students are smart, ambitious and excited as they begin their once-in-a-lifetime college journey in a new country. But leaving behind family and support networks can be quite stressful, even for the most adventuresome students. Once on campus, they seek new support systems to ease their transition and socialize with others from different cultures who are going through the same experiences.


Seeing the need for assistance, Barnes & Noble College began hosting special international student events and providing targeted support for these men and women. “What we wanted to achieve was a program that could help make that whole process a little less intimidating,” says Sherry Fang, Consumer Marketing Specialist at Barnes & Noble College. International VIP events at Boston University, Hofstra University, and other schools have helped ease the life and country changes for this cohort.


Brand Marketers, Meet Your Next New Customer: The International Student

International students receive the majority of their financial support from their families back home and are encouraged to take part in campus activities and new opportunities. Many in the U.S. for the first time, these students are eager to connect through campus social events and to sample and buy new products. They are highly receptive to new brand messages, promotions and special offers, and many remain customers for life — long after they leave college. They’re also eager to share product experiences with family and friends back home or wherever their post-college career takes them.


International students’ wallets support their appetite for new brands. According to NAFSA: International Association of International Educators, these visiting students contributed $32.8 billion to the U.S. economy during the 2015-2016 school year, spending on tuition and living expenses, food items and dining out, retail, auto transportation, telecommunications, health insurance, and even luxury goods.


Your Direct Connection to International Students

Barnes & Noble College provides brands the exclusive opportunity to reach international students through highly targeted and customized programs.


• Introduce and demo your brand at bookstore events tailored to ease cultural adjustments in a fun, relaxed and “no pressure” environment.
• Capture attention and spur product trial through in-store sampling, signage and digital TVs.
• Welcome them and provide creature comforts in care packages containing your product.
• Tailor messages that can be distributed via email and digital campaigns.


Let Barnes & Noble College Marketing introduce you to these international students who are waiting with open arms to try and buy your products. We can customize a program exclusively for your brand. Connect with us at or contact Lori Cohn at