Experiential Marketing Yields High Engagement on Campus

By BNC Marketing

Updated November 2018 (Original posted January 11, 2018)

Over the past decade, spending and brand engagement efforts targeted towards Generation Z customers have shifted to focus more on experiential marketing and face-to-face events. Powerhouse brands like Apple and Google focus on the culture and experience surrounding their products rather than solely on product benefits. Today, this type of marketing is standard, particularly among brands that cater to college-age consumers — and any brand can leverage this powerful tactic.

Brands looking to capture the college market, need to think outside of the internet, TV and print media box – and consider on-campus events.

Generation Z, born after 1995, is a vocal and empowered generation, always seeking opportunities to express their individuality, interact with others, and voice their confident opinions.

On-campus events provide the perfect venue to satisfy this generation. Taking place anywhere on a college campus, they’re a unique, non-traditional way to speak to students, and they’re happening in greater numbers across the United States.

Here’s How to Build High Attendance On-Campus Events.

A recent Barnes & Noble College Insights survey asked the 18-22-year old crowd what motivated them to attend bookstore events.

  • Not surprisingly, “free” is a big motivator for bookstore event attendance with 87% showing up for product samples and giveaways and 83% stopping by to partake in complimentary catered food.
  • Exclusive sales and discounts are important to 79% of college students. Note here that “exclusive” was a stronger motivator than “general” sales and discounts which motivated fewer students (66%).
  • 75% said they’d attend an event if raffles and prizes were promised.
  • 74% would be more likely to go to an event if their friends were planning to go as well.
  • 69% of respondents were drawn to events if they felt they could learn a new skill or expand their knowledge in some way.

Explore These Locations When Planning Pop-ups.

Pop-ups can be positioned anywhere on-campus where Gen Z college consumers frequent, including:

  • Campus bookstore
  • Student unions and lounges
  • College sporting events
  • Campus-wide festivals, like homecoming and spring festivals
  • Grad events and fairs
  • Back-to-College events (e.g. orientation and move-in)

5 Key Takeaways for Successful Events

To create a successful experiential experience and capture student customer engagement, brands should:

  • Offer something that the targets audience needs (i.e., a solution to an existing problem)
  • Offer special incentives for Gen Z college students to attend your event: giveaways, contests and exclusive discounts.
  • Incorporate a social component as college students enjoy sharing their experiences with friends.
  • Create opportunities for user-generated content that can be leveraged cross-platforms (online, in-store, and face-to-face marketing).
  • Deliver experiences that college students are likely to find unique and expand their knowledge.

When brands can get in front of college students in an experiential way, they are more likely to engage and remember your brand, transforming into lifelong repeat customers. Barnes & Noble College can help your brand create an experiential campus marketing event to successfully reach Gen Z audiences. Contact us today to find out how we can help.

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