How College Students Interact With Brand Marketing


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Recent Study Shows How Changing Technology And Society Affect Student Brand Interaction

It's no secret to brands, advertisers and marketers that an important demographic for many brand marketers are college students, but this younger millennial is a moving target that is extremely difficult to pin down and engage.

Collegiate attendees are at the bridge between childhood and the adult world, and offer the potential for lifelong brand advocates and consumers. In this blog, Hollywood Branded looks at a study by Chegg and UM about how brands interact with college students and what that means for your brand marketing.


College Students - An Important And Unique Demographic

College students are on their own for the very first time. Many of them are having first big life experiences:  their first credit card, first job, and first taste of the real world. This means their spending habits will change, from every day needs to larger expenses like trips and vacations or technology purchases.

They also represent a demographic that will likely have more money to spend in the long-term. A degree or even some college education on average means higher earners. And as a brand, marketers want to appeal to these consumers now to create loyal customers.

College students are impressionable but no longer as easily impressed or impulsive as they were in their teens. Their needs and wants as consumers are drastically different than any other demographic, which is what makes studying their interactions with brands so critical to brand marketers.

Taking The Basics Even Further

There are a few basics for any brand to harness when targeting the college consumer:  

  • Utilize social media.
  • Keep up with trends and technology.
  • Collaborate with social and digital influencers.
  • Make your brand personal.

But with new information, you can take these basics to the next level and actually get the attention of these college students! 

It's Not Enough To Just Make Your Brand Personal

You need to make it feel-good.

The Chegg and UM study found that students consistently believe it is important for companies to give back to the community (88% in 2016 and 87% in 2015). 

This is something very vital in marketing to college students. As they are experiencing and learning about the world, charity and community are becoming more and more important to them. On top of this, most collegiate clubs and activities emphasize giving back and require community service. 

Using the brand's social media to show followers how much the brand cares about giving back, or partnering with a social media influencer to do a little good in the world will make college student's do double takes! For example, Ellen DeGeneres and Duracell teamed up with Tunes For Tots to donate a million batteries just in time for the holiday season.


By using a universally-liked celebrity and a good cause, Duracell made their brand both personal and heartwarming.

Students Are Engaging With Media More Than Ever

The study concluded that students spend 56 hours per week engaging with media - a record high. They also found that almost half use streaming-only services for content. That means that almost half of college students are spending over 50 hours a week exclusively watching streaming content!


The study also found that 63% of college students noticed ads on online video sites and 51% Facebook banner ads as opposed to 38% radio ads and 20% magazine ads. However HBO, Amazon, Netflix and Hulu Premium all have no commercial breaks or traditional advertising. If almost half of students are watching only online streaming, they are actively avoiding those ads. 

So What Does That Mean For Brands? Here's A Trick On How To Reach Them!

This means that it is more important than ever to integrate your brand into content versus traditional advertising. And the best part about streaming services is that they don't have the same brand and product placement restrictions as cable networks.


Read about how SVOD Is Keeping Brand Marketers On Their Toes to find out more about how your brand can integrate within streaming content.

Best Way To Target College Students? Move Along Their Timeline With Them!

"We know that there are numerous points throughout the college experience where brands can connect with students in memorable ways," said the Director of Marketing Solutions at Chegg, Danielle Malloy. 

These moments included moving into the dorms, doing well on their first test, their first set of finals and signing their first lease. Successful brand marketers should pay attention to these milestones and associate their brand with specific moments in a college student's life.


How Can YOUR Brand Connect With College Students?

For example,

  1. At the beginning of the year is when students are moving into the dorms. This is prime time for many different brands including furniture, fashion and decor, as well as every day items like snacks, cleaning supplies and laundry detergent.
  2. Sponsor a social influencer to design their ideal dorm room on Instagram, have a social media giveaway for branded goodies, or find your own way to get creative! 
  3. Healthy drinks or energy drinks, for example, can capitalize on finals week, reminding students to stay motivated and keep studying (even if it takes all night.) 
  4. After a particularly stressful week, a tough test, or a break up, urge students to curl up and binge-watch their favorite show on Netflix... that you have product placement in. 
Really, any brand can find a meaningful way to connect with college students along their timeline, especially with an entertainment marketing strategy.

Want To Get Those College Student's Attention?

Before you spend another dollar on traditional advertising, consider the use of product placement/brand integration in your entertainment marketing strategy. Watch our video to learn techniques to conquer common advertising challenges!

Learn how entertainment marketing engages consumers