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Building Loyalty Through College Partnerships

One way for companies to expand their marketing efforts into the crucial 18-25 demographic is to reach out to college students where they live.

American Eagle Outfitters is one retailer that has reached out to campuses, using college students themselves as “brand ambassadors.” A recent USA Today article points out that even when students shun the idea of big-business marketing, their own words can inadvertently demonstrate the powerful influence of peer opinion leaders.

Bijah Gibson, for example, a journalism major at Colorado State University, claims to largely ignore marketing efforts targeted through social media and elsewhere:

“It doesn’t affect what I buy,” he says. “My friends have a much bigger effect on what I buy than what I see on some website or on a Facebook update.”

And precisely where did those “friends” gain their enthusiasm? Some website or a Facebook update, quite likely ….
Red Bull
Red Bull is another company that has huddled with marketing advisers and come up with a college-based strategy. Red Bull sells more than 4 billion cans a year in the United States – its target market heavily skewed to 18-25 (with 8.4 million Facebook friends).

When students returned to school this fall, for example, thousands got sample Red Bull Energy Shots (2-ounce bottles that retail for $2.99) at college bookstores (talk about helping students stay awake for those study, work, play and party priorities).

It also moved forward with a “4-Pack Thursday” because “Thursday is the new Friday” promotion on campuses across the country.

Entrepreneur e-zine offers five tips for reaching the elusive college market:

  1. Consider mobile marketing.
  2. Get to the point, fast.
  3. Don’t try to be cool if you’re not.
  4. Get your product right before bragging about it.
  5. Win over mom and dad.

Ahhh, couldn’t we all learn from that fifth item: Honor thy father and mother!


Sallie Burnett
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