By Lisa Major
In just a few weeks, college campuses will be buzzing with students. And for brands, this presents a golden opportunity to connect with this up-and-coming generation, Gen Z, whose earnings are forecasted to reach $33 trillion by 2030. But, to resonate with this audience, brands need to understand what makes them tick and tailor their marketing efforts to meet their needs.
Today’s college students are true digital natives; they’ve never known a world without the internet, smartphones, or social media. Of course, this means they are also bombarded with thousands to tens of thousands of online advertisements daily. Another thing to remember is that some current college students spent a significant portion of their high school years in an online learning environment due to Covid restrictions and were separated from their peers and the activities that make up a big part of a teenager’s life. All of this digital connectivity has led to burnout.
That said, brands with a vested interest in Gen Z should prioritize real-life connections by delivering authentic interactions directly to college campuses utilizing experiential marketing tactics.
Experiential marketing offers authentic, interactive, and meaningful interactions. It allows brands to connect with consumers in a face-to-face environment, which resonates with them long after the activation is over.
College students are often at an important phase of their own self-discovery, making them an excellent target for developing loyalty early on, which has incredible long-term value for brands. In fact, Gen Z is loyal to brands they like, with one survey showing that 66% of Gen Z responders said that once they like a brand, they continue to buy it for a “long time.”
Whether you’re targeting students on campus, at football tailgates, or off-campus locations, here are a few things to remember to help set your campus brand activation up for success.
Event technology is an enormous draw for people of all ages, especially younger generations who have been immersed in a technologically advanced world since birth. Experiential event tech can not only help to attract a crowd, but it also makes people linger. The more interactive your activation is, the longer people stay, giving you plenty of time to convey key messaging and build relationships.
Many event technology tools also encourage social sharing, which is very lucrative for brands since social media is embedded in the fabric of their being. Social sharing helps brands expand their reach, gain more impressions and engagement, and ultimately generate more brand awareness.
Consider incorporating interactive tech such as:
Having the right brand ambassadors representing your brand on campus is critical for success. Brand ambassadors are responsible for engaging and interacting with consumers, striking up conversations, and forging an emotional tie to the brand. Essentially, they are the voice and face of your brand, which creates an association that consumers remember. With more and more people experiencing digital fatigue, engaging with real people can make an enormous difference.
College students love the word free, and why wouldn’t they? Whether you’re passing out product samples, giving away branded swag, or offering digital incentives like coupons or discounts, giveaways and freebies will create a ton of buzz for your brand.
To get the most impressions on campus, consider deploying a street team to canvas high-traffic foot areas to distribute your giveaways or use a branded food truck to make your activation more mobile and target various spots on and off campus.
Campus brand activations are a win-win! Since 2002, ATN has provided top-notch event staffing for campus marketing programs across the nation. Whether you are looking for a team of brand ambassadors at a football tailgate promotion or a street team to canvas campus, our experienced teams are ready to help you ace your campus brand activation!