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Marketing to College Students? Get a Cause!

College students are tricky to reach nowadays with traditional media. Unlike previous generations they refuse to take their medicine and watch a lot of network TV from 8pm to 11pm like their predecessors.

Oh they consume media like a retired sumo wrestler eats carbs at an all you can eat buffet.
But if you don’t have a message that’s well suited for their cell phones or i-Pods, or that they can mashup on their Facebook page or blog, or if it doesn’t work as a sponsored billboard in Grand Theft Auto then good luck reaching them in a meaningful way.

One approach that consistently works is cause-related marketing and other elements of corporate social responsibility. This fact was underscored in the findings of a survey of college students published last week by Alloy Media + Marketing and conducted in April of 2007 by Harris Interactive.

Alloy Media + Marketing, a New York City-based provider of ‘non-traditional media programs,’ developed a list of the top 10 “Most Socially Responsible Brands” for college students aged 18-30 based on the survey. (The graph above from fails to list #10, Kashi).

Little wonder that out of the 10 brands in the list all but one of them are active cause marketers and all of them are consumer brands. Of the 10 only Burt’s Bees doesn’t have an established history of cause-related marketing. Although they’re currently doing a mobile tour in conjunction with the National Arbor Day Foundation that has a modest tree-planting element.

What constitutes social responsibility? Three of the top finishers, according to a press release from Alloy + Marketing were “fair labor practices” (74 percent ranked it most important), “eco-friendly or green practices” (66 percent), and “companies that donate to a charity or cause” (63 percent).

That Wal-Mart finished so well despite the fire it attracts for unfair labor practices can probably be attributed to the fact that the company has been a generous donor to charity since before Sam Walton was still alive and because it has made great strides in the last 18 months in particular at becoming green. Maybe no large company has come further faster than Wal-Mart.

If you’re trying to reach college students and you don’t already have a cause-related marketing or corporate social responsibility program in place, it’s probably time to add it to your marketing mix.


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Top Eight Cause-Related Marketing Campaigns of 2007

Yeah, You Read it Right. It's a Top 8 List.

More cause-related marketing campaigns are unveiled every day across the world than I review in a year at the cause-related marketing blog. And, frankly, I don’t see very many campaigns from outside North America. So I won’t pretend that my annual list of the top cause-related marketing campaigns is exhaustive.

But, like any other self-respecting blogger, I won’t let my superficial purview stop me from drawing my own tortured conclusions!

So… cue the drumroll (and the dismissive snickers)… without further ado, here is my list of the eight best cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007.

My list of the worst cause-related marketing campaigns of 2007 follows on Thursday.

Chilis and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
I was delighted by the scope of Chilis’ campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As you walked in you saw the servers adorned in black co-branded shirts. Other elements included message points on the Chilis beverage coas…

Cause-Related Marketing Meets Microfinance and Mix it Up

You’d have had to have been in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia the last year or so to have missed the run up of microfinance. Between 2004 and 2006 more than $4 billion of capital flowed into microfinance institutions. All told experts say the total loan microfinance loan portfolio may be as much as $12.5 billion. And of course the father of microfinance, Muhammad Yunus won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Microfinance is now so respectable, so effective, (so profitable!) that it’s already enjoying its first global backlash.

Actually that first sentence is hyperbole. Because even in Ulaanbaatar… far from almost anywhere on the vast, frigid steppes of Mongolia… microfinance is thriving such that the earliest recipients of micro loans there are now complaining about taxes and government bureaucracy! And May 29-31, 2008 the Conference of Microfinance Institutions will convene in Ulaanbaatar, the eleventh such annual conference.
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Cause Marketing Beer with BOGO, Brew One Give One

On Monday’s post I touched on the topic of telling people what your cause marketing campaign accomplished when completed. I’ve recommended this approach to clients as a way to keep open the lines of communication with customers and clients and to get extra value from the campaign.

In other words, you’ll want to hold back some of the promotion’s budget to continue to activate the effort until the very end.

But what if that really cuts across the grain in your organization? What if it’s just not in your corporate DNA to do anything but to frontload your cause marketing activation? Well, then, add the report back to the activation of your next cause marketing effort.

New Belgium Brewing of Ft. Collins, Colorado, said to be the seventh largest brewery in the United States, did just that with this ad in Sunset magazine. I found this ad in the Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database.

New Belgium donates $1 for every barrel it brews and sells. It’s a BOGO cause marketing effort, Buy One Give One. …