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03 October 2010

I hear "I don't have an money" Here is what advertisers believe....

Marketers get creative targeting hard-to-reach college students

By Eileen Blass, USA TODAY

Villanova University junior Courtney Chupka (left) of Chatham, N.J., hands a pair of free American Eagle Outfitters flip-flops to fellow student Nicholas Benenati, a sophomore from Miami. Chupka was one of a team of Villanova students dressed in matching T-shirts to promote American Eagle Outfitters on campus.

"Marketers get creative targeting hard-to-reach college students ";
var articleSummary = "Savvy college marketers have learned that they can no longer reach students by old-school marketing and are turning to peer-to-peer marketing. "
Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY

It may have seemed like just another freshman move-in day at West Virginia University. But for American Eagle Outfitters, it was D-Day.

Long before the new students arrived at their dorms a few weeks ago, the oh-so-trendy clothing retailer had a detailed marketing battle plan in place specific to this Morgantown, W.Va., campus. Facebook updates promoted free car-to-dorm room help with heavy stuff on move-in day — not to mention free flip-flops.

The savvy strategy wasn't executed by an American Eagle exec. It was overseen by 21-year-old Gina Damato, a WVU senior PR major who, in her spare time, manages a pizza parlor, writes for the school paper, snowboards and, oh yeah, is a student rep for AE.

"College students are wary of old-school marketing," says Paul Himmelfarb, managing director at Youth Marketing Connection, which specializes in linking marketers with the college crowd.
"You have to take a brand and incorporate it into the college lifestyle by peer-to-peer marketing."

Savvy college marketers have learned that they can no longer reach students by simply putting up posters, handing out samples and hanging ads from dorm room door handles.
That's why there are now nearly 10,000 student reps like Damato on campuses nationally. They are paid in cash, products or a combination of the two — up to $1,500 per semester.
Much of their work is via social media, such as relevant Facebook updates and targeted tweets via
Twitter. It is detail-oriented marketing intricately tuned-in to things vital and specific to student bodies at each of the nation's 4,100 colleges and universities — and in many cases to the individual student. So there is little wasted messaging.

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If there were a college class for this, it would be New World College Marketing 101.
"College marketing used to be block and tackle," says Matt Britton, founder of marketing agency Mr. Youth, which recruits thousands of students nationwide. "Now, college students are immune to those tactics and expect something much more deeply intertwined in their lives."
These days, it's about reaching students where they are — which is mostly (but not always) on their cellphones or laptops. So the most sophisticated college marketers — from American Eagle to
Apple to Red Bull — are increasingly turning to social media focused on students' wants and needs.

For brands like caffeine-stoked Red Bull, the college crowd isn't the gravy, it's the meat.
"Think about college life," says marketing chief
Amy Taylor. "It's made up of five main activities: study, work, play, party and, if there's time, sleep. Our product can help with four of those five."

Students are a rich resource
Why reaching students on campus is fundamental for marketers:
• Students have money to spend, often courtesy of Mom and Pop. Discretionary spending by the nation's 19 million full- and part-time college students will reach $76 billion this year — up $2 billion from last year — projects Alloy Media + Marketing.

• Students will have more dough in the future.
• Students, particularly freshmen in their first extended time away from home, are developing brand affinities that can last.

But they're very clear about how they want to be reached by marketers. When college students were asked in 2009 how they want to get information on goods and services, 46% said the Internet, reports research specialist Student Monitor. That's up from 26% in 2000.
Where they're not interested in getting information: TV or magazines. While 59% looked to TV ads in 2000, that number shrank to 44% last year. And while 42% depended on magazine ads for information in 2004, that fell to 25% last year.

Not that everyone can be reached. Bijah Gibson, for one, just wants to be left alone.
The 21-year-old journalism major at Colorado State University in Fort Collins says that while it's hard to miss all the college marketing coming at him — he mostly ignores it.
"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."

The life of a college student rep
But such exceptions don't slow down Damato, the student rep at West Virginia. Before her gig as ambassador for American Eagle, she repped for both Apple and Disney.
In return, Apple lent her gobs of computer equipment, Disney helped her get class credit for a six-month internship in Orlando and American Eagle sends her checks.
Damato says being a student rep has helped make her a big shot on campus. "I'm not only recognizable to students — but to professors," she says.

For Apple, she manned tables at freshman orientation last June — supplying detailed Apple product information to students and parents at a moment when many were most susceptible to purchase. Apple doesn't let her make the sale at the tables, but refers students to an Apple site specific to her school and she gets commission on each purchase made there.
Last fall, she organized Apple tailgate parties at school football games where students played Guitar Hero on Apple laptops in the parking lot. She posted Facebook updates on the tailgate fun.

But this fall, she's all about American Eagle.
She recruited 40 volunteers — mostly by arranging an AE donation for a fraternity's favorite charity — to work on freshman move-in days. She touted their services on the WVU Facebook page for incoming freshman with updates such as: "Need help moving in: No worries. AE will be there."

Was it ever. Over six hours, her crew helped 100 freshmen move into their dorms.
And each of those freshmen got a free pair of American Eagle flip-flops (valued at about $15) and a store coupon for 15% off at the American Eagle store at the local mall. As an incentive to get them there quickly, the coupon was set to expire in 30 days.

"The motive is brand awareness," says Fred Grover, executive vice president of marketing. "Our target is a 20-year-old."

Here's what a handful of AE's peers are doing to also seek that 20-year-old on campus this fall:
• Red Bull. The brand sells more than 4 billion cans a year in the U.S., a lot of them to college students.
So it's no accident that Red Bull has an astounding 8.4 million friends on Facebook. That and Twitter are primary ways it communicates with students.
Also, when students returned to school this fall, thousands got sample Red Bull Energy Shots (2-ounce bottles that retail for $2.99) at college bookstores.
Red Bull has student brand managers on 250 college campuses who host — and promote via social media — events such as a recent student chariot race at the University of Georgia.
Red Bull also is active in mobile marketing. There are mobile games and phone apps produced by Red Bull — some of which are free. College students might learn via text message about where to get a free four-pack on a Thursday night, Taylor says.

•Hewlett-Packard. The tech brand's college marketing platform focuses by campus. "We've got to be where the students are — on campus and online," says Lisa Baker, director of student education marketing.

HP student reps at Washington State University recently participated in the annual back-to-school music fest featuring local bands. HP student reps demonstrated HP laptops in the thick of the action and announced special HP deals for the 4,000 students at the event. Students who signed up for information there or on Facebook got free giveaways.

Zipcar. Since launching its first student rep program in 2001 at Harvard University, the nation's largest car-sharing service now has reps on 50 campuses.
In the spring, Zipcar will set up fake beach scenes on campuses, complete with sand, beach chairs, umbrellas and swimsuit-wearing students. Fellow students who stop to check out the "beach" also will see a poster with this pointed spring break reminder: "You need a Zipcar to get here."
Zipcar courts students via Facebook, Twitter and location-based social network Foursquare. "Students are accustomed to getting things on-demand in the way they choose," says Zipcar chief marketing officer Rob Weisberg.
So it's no coincidence how much Zipcar's latest iPhone app appeals to college students — Zipcar members can use their iPhones to beep their car horns or even unlock car doors.

• Barnes & Noble. In the past 12 months, Barnes & Noble College Booksellers has expanded from 40 college-specific Facebook pages to 636, says Lisa Malat, vice president of marketing.
"We need to go where the students live," she says. "We can't wait for them to come to us."

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