The Why and How of Marketing to College Demographics

December 5, 2015

6:00 pm

If you aren’t focusing on the college demographic then your marketing campaign has a serious flaw. There’s no better candidate for businesses to concentrate efforts on than a college student. There’s a difference between teenagers and adults here that is fundamental. College students are truly the pinnacle influencers, meaning that they have the largest influence over the other demographics around them. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at student walkouts happening all around the country right now, in support of Black Lives Matter.

Past Peers, Present Peers, Future

Even if you yourself are not a college-aged young person, you have been one. Think of that time and how it defined you. Considering what your dorm mates needed during their college years offers you up to a whole range of perspectives to consider. Keep in mind that diversity is more prevalent now as well, you have a much more accurate representation of ethnicity, races, and genders than ever before, and this is a great thing for everyone, including markets searching for a diverse community to draw inspiration from.

Geographically Stable

Rarely is there such a focused, tangible market out there in the ether. The collegiate demographic will be around and though the members will constantly shift you can always account for it. This is an age stable market that will have remarkably similar needs as time goes on. There’s always an incoming freshman that needs soap on a rope, or their first set of tools to fix the unreliable car that gets them home for holidays. Here is a realm you can offer products that improve livelihoods.

Large and In Charge

Students between age 18 and 24 spend upwards of two billion annually in the United States. Not only is this demographic large in comparison to others (and growing), the money here is enough speaking power to fund startups, donate to campaigns, and even purchase stock in some cases.

College students are either trendsetters or following the trend. This can give your campaign wings of it’s own with the best marketing team money can’t buy. Even when students aren’t making money they’re spending it, and while they are studying they are influencing someone else on how to spend.

It’s a Community Worth Interacting With

An education is a very important thing. For a marketer to be able to give back to a community that needs resources for their education can be a very dignified cause. Some companies interact with the demographic by offering scholarships and blogging about the experience, showcasing the recipient. This can provide important information for other students on how they too can earn scholarships.

Now that we’ve covered why this market is so important, it’s time to talk strategy, just how does someone get a students attention when half is in a book and the other is on their phone. To start with, find something they need and help them get access to it.

Giving Them What They Need

Use promotions that can affect students’ day-to-day routines. National Louis University recently made history as the first academic institution to offer a daily deal promotion on Groupon for a three-credit course that could be applied to a graduate degree. That’s something college students are in need of. Save them from their tuition.

Student housing coasts have become cripplingly high, especially if you forgo the community college for the full city experience. Creating a useful tool to find housing in say, the Pittsburgh apartment niche, is exactly what Abodo did when they creating their app. Not only can you search within your budget, but neighborhood, pet friendliness, and campus proximity are searchable as well. This puts the power right in student hands when it comes to affording school provisions.

Social marketing puts you right in front of their face. How many times do students check Facebook when they should be studying? Social media is the next best thing when it comes to school procrastination. Having a presence here is another way to give them what they want. Consider the importance of building relationships within this community rather than going for the traditional flashy, expensive ad campaign. Just don’t cross any boundaries, plenty of fluke ad campaigns have been perpetrated by marketing professionals.

The college demographic is an extremely rewarding one; you can make a huge difference in these peoples lives. Whether you are a startup or an already established and thriving business you can make these changes to your focus and see positive outcomes for both the marketers and the marketed.

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Ryan De La Rosa is a writer, futurist, and information connoisseur follow him on Twitter

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