Do your customers include college students? When thinking about how to market to college kids, you should understand how they’re consuming media and purchasing goods. Based on this and other information, your team can create a buyer persona to help develop your brand’s content and marketing strategy. Independent research firm, Youth Trends, conducts a college lifestyle report twice a year. What did they find this past Spring?
College students have some pocket money to spend each month.
- 55% of students were employed part-time
- Average earnings in the past year = $3500
- Average monthly funds from parents = $350
- Average monthly discretionary funds = $200
- About 70% of students have at least one credit card in their own name
- Students used their credit cards an average of nearly 15 times over the course of the past month to pay for goods and services
- Students charged an average of $249 to their credit cards over the past month
What are they buying? Meals out, snack foods, clothing, alcoholic beverages, movie tickets, TV service, soft drinks, and DVDs topped the list for survey respondents in the past month.
Marketing Tip: Since college students like to spend money on clothing, food and entertainment, but don’t have a ton of extra money to spend, offer them discounts regularly to spur spending money with your brand.
College students are watching TV; 77% are watching shows online.
More than 70% of students had their own TV set at school, and watched an average of 10.8 hours of TV per week. College students are more likely to watch during prime time (8PM-11PM), followed by late night (11PM-1AM). Among the 77% of students who watch at least some of their favorite TV shows online, about one in four say they only watch TV shows online, which is a sharp increase from the Fall of 2011.
While about half of all students said they watched at least some of the commercials running during their favorite TV shows, nearly 80% said they were also texting during the commercial breaks. Otherwise, a majority of them may be going to the bathroom, grabbing a snack, talking with friends or going online.
Marketing Tip: If you’re buying media space on TV, focus on nighttime day parts, but don’t expect them to watch your commercial. To catch students online, consider adding digital video to the mix.
College students are online and social.
Almost 100% of students had a computer with them on campus — more than 90% of computer owners had a laptop or netbook and almost 25% had a tablet.
College kids spend a lot of time online. In a typical week during the spring semester, they spent an average of 29.3 hours online — about 43% of that was devoted towards academic-related work, leaving 16.7 hours for entertainment!
They’re spending less time on Facebook via their computers and moving to mobile. (In a typical week, students spent an average of 10 hours on Facebook!) In less than a year, Pinterest has risen to the 5th most popular site among college females.
Students were voracious digital content consumers, using subscription-based platforms and free sites, led by the Netflix streaming service. Seven in ten students download or stream TV shows online once a week or more often. And more than one in four students download or stream full-length movies online once a week or more often.
Marketing Tip: With students spending many hours online, be sure you have an effective digital and social media plan to reach them.
College students buy online and do research on big-ticket items.
Students are comfortable buying online — 80% have made at least one online purchase since the start of the spring semester. What are they buying? Everything from clothing to textbooks, concert/sports tickets, digital songs and travel.
Almost 80% spend time researching before they choose a brand for a big-ticket item purchase. Of course, getting a recommendation from a friend weighs heavily in their decisions, but some learn more about brands through TV commercials, from Facebook, online ads, email updates or free samples distributed in store or on campus.
Marketing Tip: Offer great products and superb customer service, so students feel good about their purchase and recommend it to friends.
College students are texting, going online and using social media on their mobile phones.
Almost all students have a mobile phone, and 72% own a smart phone. The majority of students say their parents pay their phone bill. Students use their mobile phones to text, go online, listen to music, talk and download/use apps.
Students are social on mobile — Facebook and Twitter are the most-used apps for both males and females. Following for males is ESPN SportsCenter, Angry Birds, Pandora and Scramble with Friends. For females, Instagram, Pinterest and Google follow as the most-used mobile apps.
College students are interested in watching mobile video, in the form of video messages, movie trailers, music videos and news/sports clips. They’re not really that interested in receiving opt-in based messages and offers from companies and brands.
Marketing Tip: As more students buy smart phones and use social apps, investigate Facebook and Twitter mobile advertising to reach college students.
College students do use offline media such as radio, newspapers and magazines.
In a typical week during the spring semester, about 75% of students listened to the radio. Students listen to about seven hours of Internet or satellite radio, but only four hours of AM/FM radio.
In a month, slightly more than 40% of students read three or more issues of their campus newspaper to get local campus news, campus sports, campus gossip and information on upcoming events. Despite wide availability and a propensity to consume various forms of content online, the majority of students remain partial to the print version of their campus newspaper.
In a typical week during the spring semester, about 25% of college males and slightly more than half of all college females read at least one magazine title. Among college males, the most read magazine titles include Sports Illustrated, ESPN The Magazine and GQ. And among college females, the most read magazine titles include Cosmopolitan, People and Seventeen.
Marketing Tips: Consider Pandora advertising, a popular Internet radio app. If you are a local business or have a local event to promote, be visible in the campus newspaper.
Understand your audience so you can reach and talk to them effectively.
As you think about your marketing plan for college students, starting with a buyer persona can be very helpful so your team can understand who they are talking to, reach them through the right vehicles and develop great content that really resonates with students! Have you tried any of the above marketing tips to reach your audience? Was it effective?