In a city like Providence, bustling with activity and characterized by an eclectic social scene, it can be difficult to pinpoint certain groups among the crowd. One group in particular stands out to me as vital to publicity efforts: college students. As a student myself, I have seen first-hand how effective marketing to this group can be.
Several colleges call Providence home: Brown University, Johnson & Wales University, Providence College, Rhode Island College, and Rhode Island School of Design. These five institutions account for over 35,000 students in Providence, representing a burgeoning market that cannot be ignored.
Local businesses often participate in giveaways of their products on campuses, and strategically slide their flyers under the doors of residence halls and houses, all in hopes of piquing the interest of the college market.
Word spreads like wildfire among college students, particularly at a smaller school like Providence College. If just one student is motivated to try a new pizza place, their satisfaction, or lack thereof triggers a chain reaction. If they like it, suddenly, everyone has to try the new place and weigh in on it. This sense of community—specifically, the desire to keep up with other students’ interests—is essential to tapping into the college market.
The prevalence of social media makes this domino effect happen faster than ever before. In a world where everything is uploaded to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, consumers (specifically, young consumers) have an immediate connection to the products and businesses they support. One simple Facebook ‘like’ of a brand can spur interest among a huge amount of students.
College is a time when young people begin to make their own choices and discover the world for themselves, instead of defaulting to their parents’ preferences. If a business is able to obtain a student’s loyalty at this young age, they have the potential to create a lifetime customer, which amounts to future spending and brand loyalty. This college market, accounting for roughly 20% of the population in Providence, is absolutely integral to the local economy and social scene. Each year, businesses can count on a crop of new students entering the Providence area, and must be ready to communicate with this young, exciting market.
-Katcy Stephan, intern, Team Providence