How To Reach College Kids When There’s No One On Campus

Brands Need To Shift Their Marketing Tactics

Brands need to shift their marketing tactics while college students are off campus.

In addition to the devastating health effects of Covid19 on the general population, another unfortunate fallout is that hundreds of thousands of college kids are sequestered in their parent’s homes, Zooming through their academic classes. And at this point, many are on the verge of not returning to classes on campus this Fall – or perhaps ever –as a wide swath of families continue to be devastated economically and colleges struggle to stay in business.

According to Reuters, May 15, 2020, the largest four-year system of higher education in the country – California State University, which serves 482,000 students, announced their 23 campuses would be online until the end of the Fall term. (

Along with cancelled graduations, Spring Breaks, sorority and fraternity gatherings, and sporting events, what was once fertile territory for brands to reach their college audience is now gone. Students are missing out on all the normal social interactions and typical college camaraderie and experiences that on-campus life usually delivered.

Consequently, brands now need to re-think the way they target college students.

For years, companies have used college ambassador programs, working with influential students to spread word-of-mouth buzz with promotional posts, giveaways, videos, contests, events/activations and brand takeovers. Brands like Red Bull, Kind Bar, Five Hour Energy and Rent The Runway have all worked very successfully with college reps.

Babbleboxx brings the college experience to students at home.

(However, not everyone is able to cater to and scale the way gigantic retailer Amazon has, honing in on students with Amazon Prime lockers, designated pickup/drop off locations that are open late and even a special online store targeting students with dorm room items that are curated by influencers which are available for same day pickup.)

So, let’s get creative. Here are some ideas the team at Babbleboxx suggests to reach students and re-direct a brand’s marketing dollars.

Reach them where they are. Bring brand awareness and the college experience to students at home. This might include our custom-designed boxes that feature theme-related products, such as school supplies and snacks for studying, which create a fully branded experience. These can be mailed directly to student influencers at home to garner millions of impressions as they share on their social networks.

Create virtual events. Babbleboxx can create online events that are reliable, scalable and are a quick way to broadcast a message to the most influential students in a localized segment or across multiple schools, sororities and/or fraternities. Content that resonates with student’s struggles and helps support them could include; ways to work better at home, tips to alleviate anxiety, virtual yoga classes, a concert from a popular band or even makeup tutorials. This virtual programming can also send real life messages from the college itself.  Colleges such as Ohio Wesleyan, UC Berkeley and the University of Michigan partner with micro-influencers to do things like attract students, promote academics, and even raise money from alumni.

Mass sampling of product. Babbleboxx can send samples for trial to hundreds or thousands of college students nationwide. We can target influencers by college, location or interest to insure the desired audience. Imagine sending a pizza to a homebound student, or a lush new mascara to dozens of sorority girls across the country.

Develop longer-term relationships with influencers. Instead of a one-time partnership with a student influencer, we suggest brands book them for extensive partnerships all throughout the year. In fact, becoming a social media star is one of the most popular career aspirations for Gen Z and has been proven to be a lucrative side gig for many college students.

Take a look at this case study from Babbleboxx’s 2019 campaign, which was a hyper-local college activation for Macy’s. It hit students in certain geo-locations right in time for Back to School and garnered 10 million impressions and 80 posts. VIEW FULL CASE STUDY

These times demand a major refocus when trying to reach college buyers on campus. With reduced budgets and reduced staffing, adept marketers need to spend time, money and resources wisely. Brand memory is paramount, and keeping a community engaged has never been more important.




Photo Credits: Campus Technology  &  Audrey Madison Stowe