No one college student is similar to the next, and this diverse demographic is predicted to spend $800 billion annually starting in 2017, and $10 trillion in their lifetime. College students vary in life stages, lifestyles and preferences. Learning how to reach and obtain this demographic as loyal customers is important for every brand, as this demographic is the one changing the face of marketing. Here are five steps to success in targeting college students:
- Recognize the diversity
College students are not just ethnically and racially diverse; they also vary in their technology habits, political beliefs, shopping tendencies, food preferences and media consumption. Do not make the mistake of generalizing the group. Catering to demographic stereotypes will cause you to miss out on opportunities that come with a more nuanced approach. Brands that pay special attention to their target market’s preferences, behaviors and attitudes will have better success understanding their buying behavior and obtaining loyal customers.
- Be socially relevant
Communicating digitally is second nature to college students. Since they have grown up in the days of the Internet and smartphones, they spend most of their time communicating online. They use their phones for gaming, shopping, listening to music, watching videos, texting, reading the news and of course, checking up on all social media. Ninety-percent of young adults use social media, and they are more likely than other generations to consult it before making purchases. Brands can stay relevant by producing timely messages, and valuing authenticity over pitching.
- Keep it visual
Between short attention spans and the fact that the human brain’s natural preference for processing information is through images, visual content trumps text when it comes to driving engagement. Video is increasingly becoming an effective and widely used tool to reach audiences, and with the popularity of clips, it is a platform-agnostic choice for marketers. It is predicted that 74% of all Internet traffic in 2017 will be video, and 93% of marketers are using video for online marketing, sales and communication.
- Be yourself
College students are unresponsive to gimmicks, artifice and sales jargon. Instead of spending time cultivating a new hashtag trend, rethink the tone you are sending out to your target audience. Crafting a message that is honest, genuine, relatable, refreshing, direct and transparent will have a better response than one that tries too hard to be cool. Authenticity means delivering a narrative that drives engagement and communication between a consumer and a brand.
- Seek out influencers
Individuals who have a large following on social media or blogs have an incredible amount of influence over their audience. Lifestyle experts, beauty gurus, food bloggers, YouTubers, and fashion stylists are just some of the people brands should be connecting with. According to a Google study, 40% of millennial YouTube subscribers say their favorite YouTube star “understands them better than their friends”, and 6 in 10 said they would follow advice on what to buy from a YouTube video. These influencers have built trust around their audience, and therefore their opinions and recommendations are extremely powerful. By partnering with these influencers, brands can be mentioned and promoted organically, as it is integrated into the content that subscribers, viewers and followers know and trust. Still skeptical? Ninety-four percent of agencies and brands find influencer marketer to be effective, according to Linqia.