Post-Pandemic College Students – How to Market

With the world slowly (debatably), moving back into a new normal, more students are heading back to in-person learning.  

What does this mean for back-to-school marketing, and, what are college students now looking for? 

As a college student myself, I can say that the way companies advertise their products and services to college students has changed significantly in the last three years. With the pandemic changing the way we learned, there are a lot of things that companies should pay attention to. 

Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve found to be the best for grabbing the attention of higher education students. 

Less paper, more digital 

At the height of the pandemic, all learning moved to virtual- even state testing which, historically, had always been paper and pen. 

Last year as a freshman I bought a few notebooks with the idea of using them in class. Realistically though, I probably used a total of 40 pages out of one notebook each semester. 

All class work, for the most part, has now been made virtual, including textbooks. So, if you’re a company with the ideal audience being young adults, try to stray away from paper products and lean more towards digital products and services.  

More patterns don’t necessarily mean better 

I know you’ve all seen the super fancy polka dots or colorful notebooks and planners. Realistically, however, that isn’t what the college-age student is looking for. 

When it comes to the nice school supplies, they look aesthetically pleasing but often come at a higher price. 

Most college students, especially the self-supporting ones, run on a tight budget. This makes them far more likely to choose boring, cheaper pens and pencils. 

Discount it! 

As mentioned, college students run on a tight budget and the more discounts, the better. 

These discounts can be anything: BOGO, 15% off, a free pen- anything. Businesses such as gyms and coffee shops that offer discounts to college students tend to do very well (read a blog on gyms here). 

Don’t require focus 

It has been found that Gen Z (who currently makes up the college age group) has an attention span of about 8 seconds (Online Optimism). Yea, a whole 8 seconds. 

The shorter the ad or the less time it takes to process, the more likely you’ll grab their attention.

The point of the matter is that the pandemic changed the ways you as a company should look at marketing toward college students. Times are changing and your marketing should too. 

Courtland Bartosik

Marketing Intern

Courtland is a freshman at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill pursing a degree in Media and Journalism with a minor in Data Science.