Back to School Basics – 5 Tips for Marketing to College Students

Back to School Basics – 5 Tips for Marketing to College Students

It’s that time of year again. The days are starting to get shorter, the trees are starting to think about changing color, and young adults across the nation are packing their things and gearing up for another year off to college. Many business owners, especially ones not located directly in a college town, have a tendency to write off college students as potential customers. This is probably because many of us picture the “poor college student” portrait that has been painted for us through the years when in fact, this is a massive demographic (over 20 million college students in the U.S.) that, if tapped into, can have a significant impact on your bottom line.  Here are five things to think about when marketing to college students.


Remember – these are your current and future customers 

College graduates, on average, earn nearly $25,000/year more than non-degree holders. By creating brand loyalty at this pivotal stage in these young consumers’ lives, you are tapping into a generation that will have tremendous buying power for years to come.

College students are young ADULTS….not kids anymore

Don’t treat college students like children. These are young adults who, for the most part, are venturing off on their own for the very first time. Part of this self-discovery is deciding which purchases these students are going to make with the limited resources they have available to them. Treating college students like the independent thinking adults they are is going to give your business an instant air of credibility.

Times are changing

The traditional methods of marketing really fall on deaf ears with this generation. TV commercials are either fast-forwarded through or that magical diversion-creator we carry around with us at all times controls our attention. Instead of complaining about “these kids and their screens,” embrace it and use it to your advantage. Having a strong mobile and digital presence literally puts your brand directly into your customer’s’ hands every single day.

Social awareness is vitally important

Millennials are invading college campuses across the land and are known in the marketing world as socially conscious consumers. In fact, nearly three-out-of-four of millennials will purchase products and services that come from companies who are committed to positive social and environmental impact. Highlighting your business’s commitment to sustainability and other social issues is a way to attract this generation to your products and services.

Mom and Dad are equally as important

With all of this talk about college students being independent, young, and thoughtful decision makers, it’s easy to forget or discount the largest influencer of this group…Mom and Dad. Forty percent of college students receive some form of financial assistance from their parents, not to mention the buying habits that have been demonstrated first-hand for the first 18 years of their life at home.

By looking at and implementing these tips, you can untap the college student market and open doors for new lifelong customers.

Joe Bolick, UNI Business and Community Services

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