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    Are You Reaching First-time Grocery Shoppers?

    4 ways to reach & resonate with college consumers

    By Bill Sussman , Collective Bias

    It’s that time of year again, when millions of kids will be shipping off to universities and colleges across the United States. In fact, there are currently over 21 million college students, according to El Toro, which pegged their spending power at $50 billion on food alone last year. For many college students, the transition will mark the first time living on their own and shopping for their own groceries. What will be their top priorities when browsing the aisles? Affordability, convenience and health.

    While open to a variety of brands, these new shoppers will spend their money at the stores that cater to them the most through relevant content and specialized offers, as well as at grocers' where their friends are shopping.

    The following are four ways to reach and resonate with today’s college shoppers to get your share:

    Hold a Social Media Contest

    According to a survey by Study Breaks College Media, 95 percent of college students use Facebook; 80 percent also use Twitter; and 73 percent use Instagram. Clearly social media is an integral aspect of a college student’s daily routine. Put your brand in the mix. Give students a reason to interact with your brand by hosting a social media contest with store gift cards or other prizes up for grabs for the winners.

    Instagram is the perfect platform for a contest because entries are extremely easy to follow with a designated contest hashtag. Create a simple theme for your contest that will encourage students to share their own take on it. Tailgating season? Embolden students to post photos in their favorite university gear and tag your brand’s handle and include the contest hashtag (i.e. #TomThumbsTailgating). For the price of a few prizes, your brand will instantly be shared across every entrant’s network.

    Ensure Your Content and In-store Placement is Relevant to Their Needs

    If your brand doesn’t have something of value to offer college students, they may have little to do with your store or products. This audience may not know how to shop for full meals like their parents did. Make it easy for them to go grocery shopping on their own by providing recipes and product usage tips that gratify their priorities of convenience and health. Where to provide these recipes? Both in-store and online. Seventy-five percent of college students are most likely to use their smartphones over any other device to access social media. Keep this in mind when promoting your online content. Your recipes and tips should be informative but “snackable” in size to ensure they are easily digestible on mobile phones. Most students do not have the time or means to whip-up 15-step recipes. Having packaged meals or all the items they need to make a meal in the same store area will also strongly resonate with their desire to “grab and go.”

    By Bill Sussman , Collective Bias
    • About Bill Sussman Bill Sussman is president and CEO of Collective Bias, a shopper social media company that drives sales for brands and retailers by working with a community of expert bloggers who create social content consumers actively seek out and trust. Sussman has deep experience in digital marketing, retail and media industries, and has previously held leadership positions at Nickelodeon, Walmart, Triad Retail Media and Ringling Bros. [email protected]

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