You know what comes when you sponsor a college event. Rows upon rows of brightly colored tents as far as the eye can see. You’re barely able to walk through without being stopped. People hand you coupons or flyers, and before you know it, you own a hat emblazoned with the logo of a dating app start-up, or throwing darts for the chance to win a free burrito. The allure, the smell, the sounds, it’s a dizzying experience, but yet, you keep going back for more.
With many students seeing these sponsored events only as a way to get free food or things, why do companies keep spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on college event sponsoring? Why is it becoming the fastest growing type of marketing in the United States?
Exclusive market research
In 2019 alone, the U.S market research industry made about an estimated 20.6 billion dollars in revenue. That’s a lot of money spent on asking the wrong people the wrong questions in small cramped rooms and handing out surveys that people will most likely not answer truthfully.
When you sponsor a college event, you get first hand, face to face feedback and opinions on your products. You see who shows up to your stall and ask for samples. You learn how they react to your products and services. This all just leads to building a more comprehensive profile of your target customer. Often times, traditional customer research methods can’t accurately accomplish this.
Swing Customers Your Way
If anything is harder than reaching out to college students it’s actually getting them to try your product. Having an upfront presence with college students creates brand visibility, which leads to press, and social media mentions. One study shows that 98% of event attendees create social content. The word of mouth, or user generated content creates the greater impact. Providing branded giveaways also means that you have walking billboards, as hundreds of students will be wearing your branded swag.
According to a study by the event marketing institute, a survey in 2016 concluded that 74 percent of consumers are more likely to buy products after being exposed to a branded event experience. Successfully building a relationship and maintaining a positive perception of your brand at an event could make or break your image or reputation, but the upsides are huge.
Return on Investment
A key aspect of why marketers try to aggressively capture the college age market is due to potential future returns. By focusing on college students, you potentially encapsulate young people to constantly return to do business with you. This adds more years to the customer lifetime value of that relationship.
Younger generations are more likely to make educated decisions during purchase. A study found that eight out of ten millennials never buy anything without at least reading a review first. But by being able to provide information face to face, and appease their uneasiness to join your brand, you could potentially turn those interaction into lifetime customers.
With many ways to measure the return on your investment, such as a four-week lift, networking or brand awareness, you should have an idea of what you’re after, whether it be sales or potential future customers.