“Our goal is to [take] a single subject telling them about something that we think is great, something that we’ve experienced, and try to be genuine,” said Rich.
After the jump, Rich discusses the college student demographic and why it’s important.
For more about programs and outreach to college students, take a listen to PRNewser’s podcast with Karen Strauss, CIO and co-developer of Ketchum’s student crowdsourcing program Mindfire and click here for info about the push from location-based apps.
Why are college students an important target? Is there a reason why marketers should be targeting college students more than they are now?
College students are actually a very valuable demographic in terms of buying power. College students account for billions of dollars every year in spending, especially during the back to school season, everything from school supplies to electronics to life supplies [like] furniture for a dorm room or apartment. College students are making a large amount of purchases throughout the year despite their perceived [financial] situation.
College students aren’t necessarily spending the most money today compared to more liquid demographics, but are instead having their preferences being shaped for a future buying power. Studies show that college graduates tend to make more money during their lifetime than those who do not attend college. So it’s important to target consumers during college because you’re shaping them for purchases throughout the rest of their lives.
What are some of the best ways for reaching college students?
I really believe in the power of digital media and the power of reaching college students where they already are. The hurdle that a lot of people run into is actually getting their attention. We live in a time when college students are always on mobile devices, on their computers, they’re always social and always interacting but they’re doing it in a very different way from what we’ve traditionally seen.
We believe that the best way to actually get the attention of the college student is… doing the things they’re already doing and becoming part of that social conversation. We are trying to do that [through a variety of] methods but focusing for the most part on e-mail. I read a study [on] eMarketer that college students would give up all other forms of digital communication before e-mail four to one and even put email nine to one over social networks like Facebook and MySpace.
So what that says to me is that students do love interacting by e-mail and that’s one of the best places to go. It’s protected, it’s safe for them, they’re choosing what they want to receive. And when it comes from someone who they’ve chosen, it comes as a referral from a friend that is more believable than an ad they might see on television.
What are some of the trends with college students these days? Communications trends, activities they’re engaging in, etc?
We see trends in the ways they act, like digital communication and how they’re socially connected. Another trend where Off the Quad formed its foundation is that students and this generation are much more aware of the information they’re receiving and much more discerning about what they’re going to believe.
The flood of advertisements and information that comes to them every day has affected their ability to believe everything they’re hearing. Instead, they’re turning to their friends to guide their preferences and what should be trusted. Our goal is to [take] a single subject telling them about something that we think is great, something that we’ve experienced, and try to be genuine.
Why did you launch Off the Quad? What was your motivation?
The motivation was I saw a lot of companies out there that were following a similar business model… the hyperlocal, e-mail-based publication model. I’m 29 years old and I’ve enjoyed a number of these publications that are targeting a young professional audience and I really felt like I got a lot out of them. But talking to friends, or friends’ siblings who are in colleges across the country, and as I did research, I found more and more that students were getting into the same old rut. And it reminded me of my college experience as well; I got to the point that I was doing the same old thing every night.
Seeing what these publications do for me on a day-to-day basis, I thought it could be beneficial for this demographic as well. It’s one thing for the upper classman who may be doing things that they haven’t tried before. [For] the freshman coming on campus and the transfer student who really doesn’t know what’s going on, we become a trusted source, someone who goes out there and sees what their campus has to offer.