Why Your Brand Should Market to College Students
Marketing to college students is a huge opportunity. While big brands like Google and American Eagle have taken notice and launched multifaceted campaigns targeting this demographic, many brands have yet to step foot on campus. And if your brand isn’t trying to authentically connect with students, you’re leaving money on the table.
Not only do college students fall into the coveted Millennial and Gen-Z demographics, they’re also individuals who haven’t yet formed brand loyalties. For many, going to college is the first stage of their independent lives away from their parents. This is their first time making buying decisions for themselves. Maybe a student’s mom always did the laundry with Tide, but when the student stands in front of dozen of laundry detergents at the grocery store, which one will she buy?
Without formed brand loyalties, college students are highly susceptible to new products and services—especially if those products and services are well received by their peers. According to a Nielsen report, the most credible form of advertising comes straight from the people we know and trust. The same report found that 83% of people trust the recommendation of a peer over traditional advertising. Reaching consumers during their college years is an opportunity to win their loyalty by authentically inserting your brand into their lives. By being on campus and building campaigns around the lives of students, your brand becomes a part of their story and something they want to share with their peers.
Luckily for brands, college campuses are the perfect environment for peer-to-peer communications. Because students are concentrated in one place and every semester offers fresh opportunities to meet new people, the awareness of popular brands and services quickly spreads. Word-of-mouth takes on new power in the college environment.
Additionally, college students are digital natives. They never knew a world without smartphones and social media. They have the desire to share their lives and promote the brands and experiences that excite them. This gives your brand the potential to reach a national, and even global, audience.
But wait—aren’t college students poor? Don’t they survive on ramen? Some are—but that doesn’t mean they aren’t buying things. With money from parents, jobs, and student loans, their purchasing power isn’t something to scoff at. In fact, college students spent $523 billion dollars in 2015, 39% of which was discretionary spending (food, entertainment, clothes, transportation).
If brands can successfully connect with students and capture their loyalty during these key years, they will be able to retain their loyalty as they transition into new life phases. And trust us, the students who weren’t rolling in disposable cash will have the potential to spend a lot more after they graduate and enter the workforce.