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Top 3 ways to engage with Back to School shoppers

a gen z themed display

There are around 19.6 million college students in the US – which means a huge cohort of back-to-school shoppers move through ecommerce platforms and physical stores every year. Here are our top three tips to engage with them.

On-campus marketing

If you want to engage with students, then it makes sense to go where they are – and there are plenty of opportunities to join the on-campus buzz at the start of a new semester. According to Student Beans user surveys, 71% of students move home when they start college – and during those early weeks of college, they’ll be out in force on campus. 

Think about how you can factor into students’ early experience of campus life – can you provide practical merch like pens or branded binders? Do you have capacity to give out freebies – such as food – to fuel their campus explorations? This generation loves experiential retail and gamification – if you can set up a stall with a challenge or competition, you’ll secure a place in their memory during this busy period. 

In larger colleges, there are often sponsorship opportunities for sports teams and other fixtures. Explore this to take your brand’s on-campus presence beyond Back to School. 

Launch student discount

When it comes to student marketing, there’s one thing Student Beans has learned – brands need to put their money where their mouths are. After all, you can have the best-thought-out media and the flashiest on-campus presence, but you need to truly prove to students that you’re here to support them throughout their college years.

96% of students use student discounts – and one in three do so every time they make a purchase. Back to School is, for many, the first opportunity to do so – making it the perfect chance for you to launch your own student discount program. Many of our brand partners see huge revenue uplifts from boosting their student discount offering around Back to School season – and by putting themselves on students’ roadmaps during this busy time, they secure long-term loyalty. 

Tap into social themes

This one is tricky – TikTok trends move at warp speed, and many students will be getting college tips and tricks on a local community level, in closed social networks. But this is also a huge opportunity for brands to align themselves with student values, and provide something genuinely entertaining or useful.

Follow in the footsteps of brands like Duolingo and the Empire State Building – two corporate accounts that placed trust in Gen Z social media teams and saw global success as a result. And consider working with nanoinfluencers specifically working in the student space – these students will act as community-level ambassadors for your brand, and deliver a high level of engagement that will embed your brand in student culture. 

Ready to head Back to School? Gen Z students certainly are. Meet them there with our Back to School guide for 2022. 

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