College students constitute a huge market segment of millions of potential customers that entrepreneurs cannot afford to ignore. One advantage of having college students as customers is the potential for present and future sales.
At ages 18-30, college students are in their formative years, have access to some money, and can make purchase decisions. A customer won as a college student is more likely to continue to be a customer after college and well into family life.
College students are a unique group exhibiting characteristics that are common to individuals in the group. Because of these particular characteristics and circumstances of college students, selling to them usually presents as a big challenge. However, a good understanding of the characteristics can help to devise strategies that will help overcome the challenges and make selling to them an interesting and rewarding venture.
A thoughtful consideration and action on the following ten factors about college students will help in selling to the students.
10 Factors to Consider when Marketing to College Students
1. Students are in a formative age
Students will feel happy to be part of products that are meant for them. Therefore, involve the students in product development by getting their opinions through surveys of their likes and dislikes about existing products as well what they feel is missing in the products. This way, the product can engage the students’ minds. Also, you must note that in their creative minds, students can be critical of adverts so give them the facts about the products, not the fallacies that may make them doubt the integrity of your products.
2. Students are highly mobile-: Therefore, to ensure product information reach the students; there is the need to employ the internet and mobile telephone means.
3. Students have limited access to cash-: To win students over, you need to offer great prices and deals. A creative bookseller offered to rent books to students instead of outright sales. The rental involved far less cash outlay than outright sales.
4. Students are highly active and busy
This explains why their attention span is narrow. Messages have to be to the point and marketing activation should be at points of very high student traffic. Make product and service offerings that are of direct relevance to the needs of the students.
5. Peer pressure is high
For this reason, encourage them to sell to their peers. This can be done through engagement of students as product ambassadors. Such ambassadors can gather and give product information among fellow students. They can market products to fellow students, utilizing their knowledge of students’ culture, activities, needs and wants. To further take advantage of peer pressure among students, the highly influential and visible ones like athletes and opinion leaders can be targeted to adopt products. Such adoption can influence other students to acquire the products. The other side of student peer pressure for entrepreneurs is that if the product is bad those who discover will tell the others.
6. Parents’ consent is required when cost is substantial-: For products whose costs are beyond what students are likely to be able to buy without recourse to parents for money, marketing efforts should be directed at parents as well as students.
7. Students live in a world of idealism
Students are open to information about political, economic and social developments around the world, in the country, and in their immediate environment. They tend to imbibe ideologies and expect situations to be the ideal.
An entrepreneur operating in a student environment will do well to attain a reputation of an organization that is socially responsible. Such organizations should make their corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects known to students. Efforts at ensuring safe and healthy environments should also be made known. Activities that are of benefit to students should be sponsored by such organizations.
8. Students need to be engaged at the peak of activities
The best times to sell to students are when they are engaged in activities they enjoy. Taking advantage of these times to promote your business will make your company, its products, and branding more popular among students.
9. There is the need to get school’s buy-in
For marketing activities to and involving students, organizations should ensure that there is some buy-in by the school. Buy-in may be in form of informing the appropriate school authorities and securing presence of principal school figures at marketing events. Teachers can be engaged in one form or the other.
10. School rules apply
Schools will usually have rules pertaining to advertisements and engagement of students in marketing activities or employment on school premises. Care should be taken to find out and follow such rules to avoid sanctions and a dent on the image of the organization.
With the appropriate strategies, tactics and caution marketing to college students need not be a nightmare. Several organizations have turned the challenges of selling to college students into rewarding opportunities.