During Back to School season, young people are inundated with brands trying to get their attention. The best way to make sure yours stands out is to figure out what makes students tick. One of our student marketing experts sat down with Foster – a Science, Technology and Society student at Stanford – to talk about when he started shopping for college, what he bought, and which brands stuck in his mind.
Foster, 22 – Studies science, technology, and society
What were you excited about when starting college?
Well, interestingly, I kind of started college twice because I started at Cornell, and then after my freshman year, I transferred to Stanford. And as an athlete, I think I was most excited to start competing in the NCAA wrestling circuit.
What were you nervous about?
Coming from a small town in Michigan, I was kind of a big fish in a small pond. So going to a pretty large university, I was nervous to just get into a new culture. It was a little bit of a culture shock, moving to the west coast, meeting a lot of new people, and just kind of reforming my identity and my place in the world.
What did you buy to prepare for starting college?
I started shopping about a month before college started, and I really went for the minimalist approach. So I was really just going for the necessities like toiletries, hangers, bedding, a mini-fridge, that kind of stuff.
What did you wish you’d bought?
After spending a few years in college, I wish I would have bought an electric scooter because they’re just a really convenient means of transportation. They’re affordable generally and you can bring them into your dorm, you can bring them up to your room, into class.
What events did you attend during the first week at college?
Both the colleges I went to had very structured orientation weeks where you would learn about the campus culture, resources, physical, and mental health resources. I also went to activity fairs where I met clubs and saw the activities that were offered on campus and then I went to a few fraternity parties.
What would you do differently?
So, along that vein of the minimalist approach, I wish I would have put more time into decorating my room over the past few years. I kind of always left it really blank and bland. I think for a lot of guys, it’s not really intuitive, how you should decorate a room and make it look good and have a good scheme for it. So I wish I would have put a little more time and energy into that.
Do you remember any brands promoting themselves on campus at the time?
I have this memory of Zipcar promoting themselves. There were a couple of brand ambassadors with tables set up, giving out Zipcar promotional materials.
What would you have liked to see from brands at that time?
So I guess, along the vein of Zipcar, I think having brand ambassadors that set themselves up right in the flow of coming onto campus would be good. They should also have targeted advertisements for college students that are offering discounts, free shipping to dorms, cheap decorations, that kind of stuff.