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Cracking the Code: Strategies for Marketing to Gen Z on University Campuses

Par Saphira Ching, Student at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

There are many ways you can market your company’s brand and products to Gen Z, or more specifically, university students. One way is to market to university students is by reaching them directly through campus events. This can assist not only your brand image and product marketing for event attendees, but also support word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing for your company. When you can reach your target segments through campus events, college students might share your brand and products with their friends. Personally, I have found that (1) you must understand your target segments and (2) have a clear partnership strategy.

Part 1: Understanding Your Target Segments

It would be incredibly inefficient to reach out to every club or extracurricular group on campus. In order to save time and boost effectiveness, I recommend getting a good sense of your target segments on each campus. Does your product/service appeal more to people from certain majors / enjoy specific hobbies? For instance, on my campus, many of the corporations my club collaborates with have elements of ESG. This ties well with our club, which draws a membership interested in pursuing ESG innovation.

Once you understand which target segments you are trying to reach, you can search through universities’ clubs’ rosters and find their social media accounts or websites. Try to get a good sense of what kind of events they host. If those events seem to attract your target segments, reach out to them (emails, website forms, social media accounts, etc.) and suggest a potential partnership. Aim for sponsoring recurring events that have historically had high turnout.

Part 2: Have a Clear Partnership Strategy

Above is a diagram showcasing a potential organizational partnership strategy with student groups. Step 1 is to engage with who you are trying to reach. Step 2 is to meet with them (our club often does this on a video call) and discuss what you are trying to get out of this partnership. What’s key here is mentioned in Step 3. You must clearly showcase the win-win-win scenarios that this partnership could entail – how the student group wins, how event attendees win, and how your organization wins. I recommend emphasizing the first two wins over the third win, as this will likely be more appealing to your audience. Step 4 is to keep communications (and a feedback loop) open. Even if there isn’t an upcoming event to partner on, maintain that relationship. Step 5 is to plan. If you have an important product launch coming up, factor in student outreach into your marketing timeline and see how that coincides with student groups your organization has partnerships with. This also helps both sides optimize marketing opportunities for your organization.

This is just one form of marketing – there are other ways to reach Gen Z (with a clear one being social media). Nonetheless, this can help get the word out about your company, brand, and products/services. Happy marketing!

À propos de Saphira Ching, Student at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Sapphira Ching is a senior studying Entrepreneurship and Finance at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where she is an NCAA Division I Student-Athlete on the Varsity Women’s Fencing Team. At Penn, Sapphira is the Founder and President of Penn Innovation Network and the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network@Penn, as well as the President of the Google Developer Student Club@Penn. Through these student organizations, she currently acts as Co-Chair of the DWEN Global Collegiate Advisory Forum and a DWEN Next Gen Leader; Chair of the Google DSC North America Leads Advisory Committee; Co-Chair of the Siemens CCSA Global Advisory Board; and Chair of the Intel oneAPI SA Global Marketing Advisory Board. On campus, Sapphira is also a Wharton ESG Senior Fellow and a 3rd-year Resident Advisor. In her spare time, she enjoys watching F1 and playing video games.

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