College Students: Driving Brands to Practice Socially Responsible Marketing

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It is no secret that college students are a very lucrative target for businesses. They are constantly surrounded with brands messaging to them and attempting to grab their attention. A rising trend for all college students is the preference of purchasing from brands that follow social responsibility and give back to the community. Therefore, it is imperative for companies to understand and act upon the expectations of this consumer group to enact socially responsible marketing. Pro-social messaging, sustainable emphasis on manufacturing methods and ethical business standards are some of the many ways businesses can practice social responsibility.

Nielsen’s Annual Global Corporate Sustainability Report discovered that 66% of consumers overall are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand. Seventy-three percent of college students made the same preference. Also, 81% of this demographic even expect their favorite companies to publicize declarations of corporate citizenship. According to the Cone Communications CSR Study, more than nine out of ten college students would switch brands to those associated with a cause. College students are willing to spend the extra money towards products they know are giving back to the community.

Here are the four major qualities college students are looking for in socially responsible companies:


  • They want companies to be genuinely invested in the betterment of society and solving social problems
  • They support companies that have a priority on “making an impact” on the world around them
  • They want companies to be open and honest about their betterment efforts and to publicize their pro-social initiatives to keep customers and potential customers aware of their efforts
  • College students want businesses to involve them in their good works. They want an opportunity to also give back – whether it is dedicating simply time or money

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