Why a Strong Visual Identity Helps Market Your Brand to College Students
Most college students are part of Generation Z, a demographic that interacts with brands and advertisements in a way that’s wholly unique.
Gen Z’s beliefs and interests influence their purchasing decisions unlike any previous generation. College students prefer to purchase from brands that support their beliefs and commitment to creating a better world.
Gen Z wants to know that, when they buy from your brand, they aren’t just getting the best product at a great price. They want to know their purchase means something. The response to this growing desire among consumers is known as cause marketing.
A cause marketing campaign often refers to a partnership between a for-profit company and a charitable non-profit organization. Cause marketing can involve your brand pledging some percentage of proceeds from sales to a charity or cause.
The result is a win-win-win: college students get to support something they care about while buying something they want. The non-profit raises funds toward their cause, and your brand increases sales while communicating its values to customers.
Your brand can also use a cause-related marketing campaign to communicate to customers that it supports a certain cause or issue without directly raising money or asking people to use their product. You can also offer a limited-time service, or volunteer at or sponsor a charitable event.
Gen Z accounts for almost 1/4 of the U.S. population. Together, college students hold more than $143 billion in spending power, and a significant influence on household spending.
Many college students’ perceptions of brands improves once they discover that the brand supports a social cause. Through cause marketing, your brand has the chance to strengthen your bond with college students.
According to Gen Z, companies should offer more than producing and selling products. A recent study found that 2/3 of respected brands among college students supported a social cause. Another 58% said brands supporting charity organizations or a social cause compelled them to purchase their products or services.
Gen Z has faith in businesses who do more than make a sale. They want to be sure that they’re supporting brands working towards solving global challenges like social, economic, and ecological injustices.
And considering Gen Z makes up the largest demographic in U.S. history, brands that don’t resonate with their needs and social values won’t measure up to the competition.
There are several ways your brand can execute a cause marketing campaign:
Gen Z college students expect brands to be accountable and transparent with their cause marketing efforts. Designing the best cause marketing campaign requires choosing causes that are authentic to your brand and that resonate with your target audience.
When deciding the best way to give back to the community, select a nonprofit group or event that matches college students’ values. This could mean environmental protection groups, human rights groups, and other socially conscious brands that empower communities and bring about real change.
The charitable group you choose should be authentic and offer valuable services that college students will want to support.
While it’s great to give money to charitable groups, this might not be the best move for your brand — or even for the organization itself. Speak to your top nonprofit organizations to learn about their focus and needs to make sure a partnership is a good fit.
Other than money, you can give your workers paid volunteer hours so they can help out with specific activities and events. You can also donate products that could be helpful to the organization.
The most important thing is to pursue a social cause that suits your brand values and target audience. If it doesn’t, it won’t inspire your target consumers to contribute, leading to a lackluster campaign.
If you’re not sure what kinds of causes your audience supports, poll them through social media or email campaigns. You can even offer a small incentive for their time and input, like 10% off or free shipping.
Now that you’ve chosen a cause that aligns with your brand’s mission and Gen Z’s interests, here are additional tips to ensure your cause marketing campaign draws in the attention of Gen Z:
Finding practical ways to give back can help your brand build affinity and trust with college students.
At College Marketing Group, we can help connect your brand with college students and their parents year-round. From email marketing to product sampling campaigns and more, we help brands maximize their conversions with college students.