Marketing to the Campus Crowd

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Marketing to the campus croWD

by David A. Morrison

Dearborn Trade © 2004, 249 pages, $25.00 (ISBN 07931-8600-5).

Capturing the $200 Billion College Market

The “college crowd” is made up of more than the swarms of eager students who are buzzing around the student centers of their college campuses. In addition to current college students — who spend almost $200 billion annually — the college market contains college-bound high school graduates, recent college graduates, the parents of college students, alumni, college faculty, administrators, and even those who buy products and services for colleges and universities.

Marketing strategist David A. Morrison has written Marketing to the Campus Crowd to provide companies looking to sell their offerings to this lucrative group a better perspective on the current state of college marketing. With numerous statistics and examples, Morrison describes the trends, styles and language that can help marketers avoid fatal mistakes and put them on the path to success.

Desensitized to Marketing

So much focus has been placed on marketing to college students in the past that most are desensitized to marketing and the clutter of competing companies looking to bring them into the fold. Morrison explains that marketers need to successfully leverage college students’ interest in giveaways and entertainment to their advantage: Beyond giving away free T-shirts, marketers must also transform market behavior in their favor, generate brand awareness, and drive sales.

Noteworthy characteristics that make the college crowd so attractive to marketers include: its sheer volume of discretionary spending, rapid turnover, propensity toward early adoption and innovation, strong influence on other consumer segments, high concentration, high receptivity to the right promotions, and avid experimentation. Not only can an organization generate short-term financial gains to the bottom line, but Morrison writes that marketing to college students also establishes long-term brand loyalties and, as a result, long-term competitive advantage.

One of the main lessons that Morrison imparts to companies is that the college landscape is dramatically different now compared to how it was 10 years ago. Not only has the music on campus changed (Did Latin hip-hop, dancehall reggae, techno, electronica, and speed garage even exist when you were in college?), but fashion, language, consumer electronics, and wireless Internet have come a long way from where they were just a few years ago.

Execution and Implementation

Morrison explains that capturing a student’s attention is still relatively easy if the execution and implementation are well designed. But, he points out, a great response to a promotion or giveaway is not a reliable indicator of whether the bottom line will realize a profit for services rendered.

To demonstrate how lucrative capturing the campus crowd’s attention can be, Morrison cites dozens of statistics which paint it as a veritable treasure trove of riches to reap. He writes that 92 percent of college students own a personal computer, 80 percent have a vehicle for personal use, and 69 percent own a cellular phone. Also, he explains, the majority of student purchases are discretionary, and somewhere between 64 percent and 85 percent of student funds are allocated to nonessentials. In addition, he estimates that the college market influences an additional $300 billion to $500 billion each year due to its impact on older as well as younger consumer populations. Not only do younger teens mimic college students to feel more mature, but older consumers often emulate them as well. ~

Why We Like ThIS Book

Filled with useful statistics and case studies that describe products and services whose marketing efforts on campus succeeded, Marketing to the Campus Crowd offers an abundance of tips and tactics that can get a company’s foot in the campus door. Helpful photos and charts illustrate Morrison’s relevant messages about today’s students, and the conversational tone of his book makes it a fun and informative read. ~

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