Ibotta, the starting point for rewarded shopping on mobile, today announced the findings of its three-year long "Dorm Room Eating 101" study, offering students invaluable tips and tricks to save money on the most popular college cuisine. The analysis highlights the continued growth of college-aged Ibotta users, which has nearly doubled since 2016.
Ibotta is a free mobile shopping app Ibotta ("I bought a...") has delivered more than $375 million in cumulative cash rewards to its users on groceries, clothing, electronics, gifts, home and office supplies, restaurant dining, hotel rooms and more by partnering with retailers.
According to the Hechinger Report, an eight-month meal plan at a U.S. college costs an average of $4500, double what meal plans cost a decade ago. This is also roughly $600 more than what a single person spends on a food in an entire year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"Ibotta users have earned more than $375 million in cash rewards, but most college students I know would be thrilled with just an extra $5 every week," said Bryan Leach, Founder and CEO of Ibotta. "Becoming a savvy shopper is easier than students think, and letting Ibotta reward you with cash back is great way for them to build good shopping habits. Whether you're saving for your future, or just in need of a late-night pizza, every little bit adds up."
Best Days to Buy College Food
After analyzing more than 233 million receipts from 2015 - 2018, Ibotta researchers found college-aged shoppers are doing a majority of their grocery shopping on Sundays, compared to most Ibotta users who shop on Saturdays. They're also more likely to be wandering grocery aisles after 6pm compared to Ibotta users overall.
For the Dorm Room Eating 101 analysis, researchers compared the shopping behavior of shoppers aged 18-22 and found, unsurprisingly, they were buying boxed meals, frozen foods, gum and candy at a higher clip than other demographics. The analysis also identified the best days to save on classic dorm room delicacies, including:
Ramen - four percent cheaper on Tuesday vs. Wednesday, the worst day to buy. Chips and popcorn - two percent cheaper on Thursday vs. Sunday, the worst day to buy. Soup - two percent cheaper on Saturday vs. Monday, the worst day to buy. Mac & cheese - three percent cheaper on Thursday vs. Tuesday, the worst day to buy. Pasta – two-and-a-half percent cheaper on Thursday vs. Monday, the worst day to buy.
Ibotta researchers also found that Sunday was the best day to buy coffee, sports and energy drinks, and frozen pizza.
Ibotta researchers also identified the savviest shopping states for college-aged users. Utah, Idaho and California topped the list, while Colorado, New Hampshire and Florida finished at the bottom of states with the most college-aged Ibotta users.
Methodology for the Data Analysis
Researchers at Ibotta aggregated and anonymized a sample of approximately 233 million receipts over the past three years, analyzing the average price per item on a weekly basis, and looking at various demographic and geographic characteristics.