Getting back to normality: three ways to maximize your student marketing reach

As vaccines roll out across the nation and college campuses start preparing for a more normal semester this fall, it’s time to start thinking about your post-pandemic marketing strategy. Here are just three ways brands can boost their student marketing reach for 2021:

On-campus marketing 

As covid restrictions gradually ease and we look forward to more normality, it’s time for brands to start preparing for the next wave of students heading to college from August. After months of lockdowns and limited socializing, this year’s new starters can hope for a more traditional orientation week – one that involves on-campus events and activities.

Although students feel very comfortable in the digital world, it’s clear they are looking forward to some fun in the real world once life gets back to more normality. 84% of US students we surveyed revealed they are most excited about doing activities like bowling or seeing a movie, 66% are looking forward to attending in-person classes, and 63% are excited about getting to experience their college town or city.

three students laughing in front of a wired fence

Gen Zs value in-person interaction, as well as brands that appear authentic. Brands should therefore take steps to widen their campaign strategy to include on-campus marketing as more restrictions ease across states and college campuses this fall. Planting your brand on campus soil will instantly build a rapport with the student demographic, boosting your brand loyalty in the long-term.

When on-campus, pass out flyers and posters to get your brand name out there. Generate excitement by playing music and demonstrating some of your product offerings. Combine the real world with the digital world by creating QR codes that students can scan to sign up for your newsletter or student survey – a great way for you to get to know your audience. Don’t forget to offer freebies; small incentives like free candy bars or bigger items like branded shirts will instantly gain more students’ attention. Go even further by becoming a club sponsor to really seal the deal and make a name for yourself on-campus during big club events.

Exclusive discounts

Student discount culture is not as widely known across the entire 16-24-year-old demographic as you might think, and brands are missing out by not executing a Gen Z-centric marketing strategy that resonates with both high school and college students. Lucky for you, we understand Gen Z and what makes them tick. When building up a student loyalty program, one word should be front and center: exclusivity.

There are 37 million college and high school students in the US, many of which rely on work and family as their main source of income. Gen Zs like to know they are getting value for money on good quality products, so offering stackable student discounts is a must for those students on a budget. Changing up your student discounts by offering bigger deals for students for a limited time only is also likely to get them over the line during the payment process – and keep them coming back.

line of shopping bags

Aligning your student discounts with wide-scale shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday will further make you stand out as an affordable, student-friendly brand. As well as this, it is important to be tapping into the student calendar as much as possible to boost your brand awareness with Gen Z and make them feel special as consumers. Consider what both college and high school students are doing at certain points of the year; be ready with discounts during college exams and SATs, and get involved with Back to School campaigns to entice the 2.5 million new students starting college every year.

Social media advertising and gamification 

Whether shopping or scrolling through social media, Gen Zs spend a significant amount of time online. Online ads that resonate with Gen Z are therefore likely to create traction and click-through rates, prompting more student shoppers to land on your website. Social media ads in particular are the most effective way for brands to insert their products into the Gen Z consumer consciousness – 64% of students get ideas of things to buy from social media ads, 54% via posts from friends, and 53% from posts by brands.

Over the last year especially, gamification has become a key trend for Gen Z consumers who are using social media to do their online shopping. Brands that have performed well during the pandemic are those that have taken steps to merge the in-store shopping experience with the digital world and make it entertaining for consumers. AR try-on technology and real customer reviews are just some of the ways the online shopping experience has evolved to become a piece of ‘shoppertainment’ – and we expect gamified shopping is here to stay.

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