Youth Marketing: 4 Bad Brand Habits That Annoy StudentsIn Trends
Students are becoming accustomed to bigger and better experiences on campus as brands fight it out to get a piece of the student spend pie. On the flip side – students are looking to declutter their personal space and some brands simply don’t make the cut. It turns out that brands are trying too hard. We dug into the psyche of students and found 4 ways they feel brands are still annoying them!
- 1. Same Old, Same Old
Nothing turns students’ attention span down to zero like experiencing the same old thing with a brand, as they’re experiencing with every other brand. Traditional marketing certainly has its place however, brands need to invest attention in diversifying the channels they use and avoid becoming stale. Students are using the different channels in their world in different ways and this presents an opportunity for brands to get creative. With 87% of students owning a mobile device, pitted against the fact that students still prefer an instore experience to an online shop, we asked “What’s a happy medium?”
Katleho “Katz” Madibana, Law student, UJ, 22, says: “Mobile is 100% the way to go. Handing students a flyer or a poster isn’t the most stimulating thing in terms of engagement but mobile stands a better chance of giving a user an experience. I found that online shopping is beneficial buying groceries online, that’s more practical for me as opposed to buying clothing. I prefer to do my clothing shopping in an actual store, fit on an item, feel the material and then make a decision on purchasing.”
- 2. Buzzwords Have Lost Their… Buzz
Everyone wants to create experiences that are “innovative”, “out of the box” and “breaks the boundaries”. But wait, there’s also the option of being “revolutionary” and “unique”! Can your brand really live up to all this spin? Students are turned off by buzzwords and jargon filled campaigns and reckon that there’s no use for brands to be in all the right places if they continue to say the wrong thing. This hardly leaves a lasting impression – missed opportunity!
Mpilo “Fillz” Mhlongo, Bcom Marketing, Supply Chain and Finance, UKZN, 22, says: “Brands messages often feel like fluff and overly sensationalised concepts. They should take a more direct approach in their messaging. Layered messaging just leaves us confused or unsure. Also, consider localising their messaging. Speak in the tone and voice of the people you are targeting. If I had to use examples, Nandos and Chicken Licken are brands that have successfully done this and it seems to be working for them. Research your audience and try as best as possible to understand their ‘language’.”
- 3. Don’t Go Pretending
We’re not just referring to brands who don’t follow through on their promises, or disappear off campus after one appearance and being students’ best friend for a day. It turns out students aren’t that interested in having a conversation with brands at all, they’d rather know how brands plan to fit into their world to make it better. To get this just right, brands need to research their audience and avoid being caught in the act of pretending to know them.
Amogelang “Amu” Manaka, Political Science and International relations, Tuks, 22, says: “Brands need to immerse themselves into understanding us and communicate to us how their product or service can benefit our lives. It’s pretty evident that brands say more than they do. I mean it almost feels like brands tell us what they think we’d like to hear, but they’re getting it wrong. They follow hashtags online and assume they understand students but we are more than our social media statuses and comments.”
- 4. Exclusive vs Inclusive
Being surrounded by empowering slogans and messages means very little when brands straddle the borders of exclusion instead of exclusivity. Binary options are becoming more popular with this generation of youth who prefer to celebrate diversity amongst themselves. When brands enter with a unnecessarily skewed offering, students feel obliged to take a step back and question whether they’re keen to associate with it.
Inge Beukes, Law Student, Tuks, 21 says: “The notion of exclusivity doesn’t resonate with me personally. I assume that a brand would want as many people as possible using their product or service as far as possible. We are a woke generation. We understand that we’re all unique and one of ones, we do however also share many commonalities. Brands need to find that sweet spot where uniqueness is celebrated but where commonalities are also considered.”
Live And Learn
If any of the above rings true for your brand, you’re not alone. Marketing to the youth has no cookie cutter or magic recipe and while there are plenty of resources willing to share the do’s with you, the don’ts require the experts to troubleshoot the perfect campaign. If you’re looking to switch things up on the youth marketing scene, contact Student Village on or email .