College Marketing: Why Target College Students?

target college students image

Why target college students? In some cases the obvious answer might be that the client’s product or service is tailored to them—but there are other reasons why this demographic should be in youth advertisers’ sights.

It’s important to examine the more complicated answers to this question in order to formulate effective college marketing strategies; especially since the demographic has changed so much over the last few decades. Undergraduate college education has become available to a wider population, creating both new opportunities and unprecedented problems.

So what about modern students makes collegiate marketing an especially important subset of marketing in general and why should brands target college students?

  1. Socioeconomic background. There is a strong statistical correlation between increasing family income level and a child’s likelihood of completing an undergraduate degree.[1] Put simply, the majority of college students are from middle-class or higher backgrounds, and this means they will likely have more disposable income, making them better targets for college marketing companies.
  2. Intermediate age. Speaking in general terms once again, most undergraduate students are young, many of them fresh out of high school. As young adults, they suddenly have increased spending power, and they don’t have monetary commitments that come later like children, pets, or a home. This ideal balance, combined with the newness of having free reign over money (often money they didn’t earn), forms the perfect storm of financial indiscretion, which works in the favor of youth marketing.
  3. The “College Image.” A medley of cultural influences (movies, television, parents, peers, etc.) work together to create an idealized image of life on campus as some mixture of playground, networking site, academic Mecca, and general promised land. This image drives college students to consume the various products that support it in real or imagined ways: alcohol, designer fashion, textbooks, travel, electronics, even certain kinds of food (energy drinks and pizza jump to mind). Capitalizing on this semi-fictitious image should be the business of campus marketing.

Effective college marketing ideas have to spring from a thorough analysis of the target group, and students are more than just that. They are a certain kind of person at a certain point in their lives, and marketing plans that acknowledge those characteristics are sure to enjoy greater success.

Contact NAM Youth Marketing to learn effective ways to target college students today!


[1] Read more: Joydeep Roy’s, “Low Income Hinders College Attendance for even the Highest-Achieving Students.”


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