Reaching the professionals of tomorrow

The Canadian campus market is finally coming of age.Once considered the domain of tobacco companies and breweries, a new generation of marketers is looking to cash in on the collegiate consumer.Crash coursesMarketers in the telecommunications, computer, personal care, food, automobile and...

The Canadian campus market is finally coming of age.

Once considered the domain of tobacco companies and breweries, a new generation of marketers is looking to cash in on the collegiate consumer.

Crash courses

Marketers in the telecommunications, computer, personal care, food, automobile and banking industries are now taking crash courses in how to best reach the more than one million university and college students across the country.

And their thinking is rooted in grade A logic, according to industry analysts.

‘Got it all’

‘The campus market has got it all,’ says Dick Sienko, president of Target Broadcast Sales, which represents community and campus radio stations across the country.

‘Students not only have lots of cash in their pockets, but they’re also more likely to be the high wage earners of the future,’ Sienko says.

‘Advertisers who wouldn’t have considered the campus market a few years ago are now much more aware of it as a separate target segment,’ he says.

The baby boomers’ passage through post-secondary institutions in the mid-1970s has helped to focus attention on the market, according to Cameron Killoran, president of The Campus Network, the advertising arm of 50 college and university publications.

But Killoran says the current interest in the campus consumer can largely be attributed to marketers’ increasing awareness that it is important to brand-build early.

Mini-households

He says for many students, going away to school means not only leaving their parents’ protective nest, but the opportunity to set-up their own mini-households.

Killoran says marketers are now wise to the fact this is the time when many brand loyalties will be established.

Jumping-off point

‘It is the most identifiable jumping-off point in one’s life,’ says Rick Wilson, direct marketing manager of Ford Motor Company of Canada, which has aggressively marketed to students since the mid-1980s and currently offers graduates a $750 rebate off first-time purchases.

‘If you can grab them and please them with their first purchase, you are encouraging them to stay with you, or at least strongly consider you in their next purchase,’ Wilson says.

Yet, for marketers, these students are elusive.

The major obstacle is that much of a student’s life is centred around the activities and culture of the campus, which is severed, if only for two to four years, from mainstream society.

Difficult

Reaching them becomes even more difficult because students are infrequent users of traditional media.

Post-secondary students watch about half the amount of television as their non-scholastic counterparts, according to most ‘statistics.’

But they are a captive audience.

For eight months of the year, marketers can deliver their messages to the carefully defined territory of campus life – student residences, libraries, pubs, athletic facilities and campus bookstores.

The market has spawned an array of new advertising vehicles.

Marketers use everything from campus newspapers and magazines to on-campus promotions, sampling kits and electronic bulletin boards to deliver their message.

The increase in the number of players on the campuses has also helped to legitimize it as a separate market, says Chuck Kirkham, executive director of Campus Plus, a national advertising marketing wing representing more than 60 campus newspapers.

And while research has long been available to campus marketers in the u.s., biannual studies profiling the Canadian student – documenting their buying habits, coupon usage, leisure activities, as well as demographic and psychographic information – have only been conducted for about the past 10 years.

The fifth such study, conducted by Campus Plus and Clegg Campus Marketing, will be released in June.

And while the numbers are not available yet, Kirkham says many of the trends identified in the 1989 survey will continue.

10% increase

There are more students today than ever before.

The most recent Statistics Canada figures show there are 856,478 full-time university and college students and 502,742 part-time students – about a 10% increase from five years ago.

They are older, too. Nearly 10% are over the age of 30, with many coming back for a second degree. However, 75% are still between the ages of 18 and 25 – the key demographic market.

Most work part-time – 80% are employed during the summer and 55% during the academic year. They have a discretionary income somewhere between $4 billion and $5 billion – that is the money available beyond paying for room, board, tuition and fees.

And they like to spend it.

They are more sophisticated consumers, and they are buying products that were unheard of on campuses 10 years ago.

Now, more than 25% own personal computers, and 48% have their own vehicles.

Affluent

‘No one realized how affluent they were until a few years ago,’ says Andrew Feldman, director of sales for Campus Canada, a national magazine targetted at students.

‘But many still have the perception that students are eating macaroni and cheese, whereas the reality is that they’re wearing $100 running shoes and expensive leather jackets,’ Feldman says.

Today’s students are also spending on plastic: 54% have one or more credit cards.

Splurging

With 59% of them living away from home, they are also splurging on health and beauty aids and snacks and fast foods, as well as buying cleaning products, dish detergents and laundry soaps, according to the Campus Plus/ Clegg Campus Marketing statistics.

And they are much more physically active compared with other segments of the population.

They are still more likely to play tennis and squash, jog and swim, although they are less inclined to do so than they were seven years ago.

So, a large group of affluent, eager consumers who are willing to try new products have been rounded up, but how do marketers brand them?

That is what neophyte as well as experienced campus marketers are still trying to find out.

On the Canadian campus turf, there are a myriad of players, many performing more than one marketing function.

Campus newspaper

By far the most established vehicle is the campus newspaper. There are two campus newspaper advertising representatives, The Campus Network and Campus Plus.

Statistics show students read their newspapers – 66% read every issue with reach increasing to 88% over four issues, according to Campus Plus statistics.

Student newspapers had their best year in 1990-91, pulling in $2.8 million in advertising revenues.

Kirkham says advertisers spend more money here than in any other medium.

‘It makes sense to advertise in campus newspapers because they are so immediate,’ says Killoran. ‘They also offer flexibility that’s not available in some other mediums because of their ability to frequently change the message.’

The Campus Network also produces a daytimer called the University Day Book for 20 campuses across the country.

Killoran says that while the daytimers help students plan their agendas, they include information about campus services and organizations and their durability is what makes them important marketing vehicles.

The Campus Network’s research shows students use the books a minimum of 126 times over the academic year.

While the campus market in the u.s. is saturated with magazines, Campus Canada is the only national magazine here targetted at post-secondary students.

The magazine is distributed across 100 campuses nationally, with a distribution of 125,000, and is published four times during the academic year.

Campus Canada is owned by Canadian Controlled Media Communications, which also publishes three other magazines targetted to students, including the Canadian University Football Preview Magazine, The Vanier Cup and The Nationals, the last two being souvenir programs.

Publisher Kim Locke says Campus Canada’s advertising revenues have increased threefold since it was bought by Canadian Controlled Media Communications in 1988.

Although new categories such as food and personal care products are advertising in the magazine alongside the more traditional advertisers such as the breweries and car manufacturers, Locke says the market is still far from saturated.

‘While many advertisers are talking about looking at the campus as a new target market, a lot of it is still talk. It certainly isn’t a gravy train yet,’ Locke says.

That may help to explain why Campus Canada has expanded beyond the mandate of publisher with its on-campus promotions arm, Campus Caravan.

One of the biggest benefits of on-campus events is the ability to get samples into students’ hands, industry analysts say.

Clegg Campus Marketing is the granddaddy of existing samplers and has sold the Campus Kit for the last 25 years at 139 locations with a distribution of 135,000.

Effective

David Carin, director of sales at Clegg, says sampling is effective within the campus market because 80% of Campus Kit buyers are living away from home and making their own brand selections.

And with almost 40% of the buyers in their first year, most will be making brand decisions for the first time.

The sampling program executed by Clegg has been effective in raising awareness of Salon Selectives, says Christopher Gardiner, brand product manager at Helene Curtis.

Gardiner says the university and college market is important in the hair care category because students are willing to experiment with new products.

‘Let’s just say the sampling program has worked very well for us,’ he says. ‘Besides its sister brand, Finesse, there’s no bigger hair care brand out there.’

Clegg’s research shows that conversion of samplers to users can range as high as 25% to 30% in specific categories such as shampoos, hair conditioners, fragrances and coffee.

One of the newest campus participants, offering up samples through event marketing in a promotion called Campus Fest, is MarketSource, a u.s.-based company that came into the Canadian market four years ago.

Ross Halloran, vice-president of the Canadian branch of MarketSource, says the real strength of event marketing is the chance to establish a link between products and entertainment.

‘When you’ve got them munching on freebies while they’re swimming around in the hot tub, you know it’s a pleasant experience they will easily recall,’ Halloran says. ‘You try to recreate that spring break atmosphere.’

Spring break has become one of the most successful marketing events. This year, Canadian marketers followed students to Daytona Beach, in Florida and Whistler, b.c.

The product awareness generated through these events has convinced Susan Schaefer, product manager, confectionery division at William Neilson, to get more involved next year.

While Schaefer says the company’s Crispy Crunch candy bar entered the campus media two years ago, it waged a larger campaign this year, advertising in campus newspapers and marketing through various events.

‘This is a large part of our market and they’re very elusive,’ Schaefer says.

‘We see both the campus newspapers and events like spring break as offering us a tremendous opportunity to communicate with this age group,’ she says.

The walls of Canada’s universities and colleges are also becoming increasingly adorned with marketers’ messages.

Clegg Campus Marketing and MarketSource both provide campus wall boards.

Clegg’s Campus Boards are in place in more than 225 locations on 56 university and college campuses. High traffic is ensured because the boards also double as stands for campus newspapers.

‘We like to suggest it works best with a response offer,’ Carin says.

The poster boards can be used in conjunction with the direct response cards, coupon offers, application forms and product offers that are held in pockets below.

MarketSource offers a high-tech, back-lit board with an electronic message.

Halloran says that while nearly half of the board is devoted to one advertising poster, the other half lists campus activities.

Clegg Campus Marketing also offers the largest couponing program with its Grab-It envelope, which distributes coupons, contest and direct response offers, product samples and other promotional literature.

It is distributed twice during the academic year, at the beginning of each semester.

The Grab-It envelope is available through campus bookstores with distribution of 375,000 in September and 275,000 in January.

Carin says the advantage of the coupon envelope is that it provides direct access to the university and college student market.

And, it is easy to measure response to it.

For example, coupon redemption reached 35% on a two-for-one hamburger offer. Credit card companies and department stores in particular have had good success with couponing, according to Carin.

Student discount cards also offer national and local advertisers access to the affluent student market.

The Canadian Federation of Students, a national student lobby group, has studentsaver, a student discount card with savings offered by Greyhound, A&A Music and Entertainment and Travel Cuts, among others.

The card is sold by college and university student councils across the country.

A second card, the Student Price Card, was launched last September in Toronto and is working to get national advertisers on board.

While campus and community radio has yet to play a large role in delivering marketers’ messages on campus, some industry observers say marketers will take advantage of last month’s decision by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the federal broadcast regulator, to allow them to carry mainstream commercials on air.

Campus and community radio stations can now carry up to 126 minutes of conventional advertising every week.

‘The marketplace is definitely going to increase,’ Sienko says. ‘The university radio station is now growing up. We won’t see formatted programming, but more formatted programming.’

Hair salons, bookstores, bars and clubs, record stores and the federal and provincial governments have been the main advertisers in the past.

Traditionally, many campus radio stations have had long lists of willing advertisers they have rejected for political reasons.

But Kirkham says recent funding cutbacks will probably mean more campus radio stations will be interested in attracting advertising dollars.

Campus marketing consultant Steve Raftery, of Steve Raftery Enterprises, says he thinks there will likely be more co-operation between campus radio stations and advertisers.

But Raftery says he does not believe campus radio will be a viable medium for all advertisers.

‘I don’t think we’ll see campus radio changing dramatically with this decision,’ he says. ‘It will maintain its distinct identity. So it will fit into some marketing plans, but certainly not all of them.’

Beyond getting stations to take commercials, Sienko admits there are other hurdles in attracting potential advertisers.

The audience has never been effectively tracked and because campus radio stations do not usually belong to the BBM Bureau of Measurement, advertisers cannot buy time on a cost-per-thousand basis.

Industry experts say the campus market is much more developed in the u.s. than in Canada, for reasons that go beyond the differences in market sizes.

‘The Canadian campus tradition is still one which respects the hallowed halls of academia,’ Killoran says.

He says Canadian university and college administrations have traditionally been more conservative in supporting on-campus marketing events and promotions than in the u.s., although he adds attitudes are changing.

Modify strategies

Halloran admits he has had to modify some of MarketSource’s strategies to fit Canadian students’ attitudes.

‘Canadian students are much more sophisticated, more cynical and more socially aware,’ he says. ‘They are also much more resistant to blatant corporate advertising.

‘You have to show a sensitivity, and show that what you’re doing isn’t just a promotion, but that you’re putting something back into the community.’

One way of putting something back into campus communities is to work with on-campus groups such as Amnesty International, the World Wildlife Fund, student-owned companies such as Travel Cuts and student charities.

Raftery agrees.

‘The more direct the route you can take, the better,’ he says. ‘And the less commercial the activity is seen to be, the more favorably it is received on campus. In this market, it is the quality of the impression you make, not the quantity.’

Spring break promo

For example, this past year Travel Cuts, Labatt Breweries of Canada and Alpine Electronics of Canada all worked on a promotion for a safe spring break with bacchus, a national student group which supports responsible drinking and driving.

Michael Fuller, marketing manager at Travel Cuts, the only student-owned travel bureau, says everyone benefitted from the promotion.

Not only was Travel Cuts better able to promote its spring break trip, but Alpine and Labatt also benefitted from its access to Travel Cuts’ penetration of 35 university and college networks.

Alex Romanov, senior vice-president of Alpine, says working with bacchus allowed the company to achieve two of its marketing goals.

It allowed it to communicate directly with the target market it wanted to reach, and helped it to contribute to the community through a charitable donation.

Trend of the 90s

‘I think it’s a marketing trend of the ’90s,’ Romanov says. ‘The current mentality is really over the motherhood issues, and we’ll probably see more marketers trying to work with charitable organizations on campus.’

The desire to contribute something to the community is what convinced London Life Insurance to support university athletics, says company vice-president of communications, Paul Bailey.

London Life is just one of the major corporations finding a new interest in university sports.

And its interest is due, in part, to the aggressive marketing efforts undertaken by groups such as the Canadian Intercollegiate Athletic Union.

The Vanier Cup (the ciau’s national football championship), the Nationals (the hockey championship) and the National Basketball League have been given a u.s.-style makeover and are finding record audiences for corporate sponsors.

Mindset has changed

John McConachie, director of marketing and communications for the ciau, says the Canadian mindset regarding athletics has changed as universities have started to feel the financial squeeze.

‘University administrations have realized they needed a more business-like approach to university sports without compromising academic standards,’ McConachie says.

The ciau started marketing university athletics aggressively in 1986, and has had corporate sponsorship from London Life as well as General Motors, Duracell and Humpty Dumpty, among others.

The Vanier Cup is now garnering corporate sponsorship of about $1.5 million.

While Canadian university sporting events have been traditionally all but ignored, except by participating teams and their fans, the games are now being packaged as events.

Celebrations

That means turning the playoffs into homecoming-style celebrations, complete with plenty of tv coverage, receptions, hospitality tents, networking and nostalgia.

Changing locations – renting the SkyDome for the Vanier Cup and Maple Leaf Gardens for the Nationals – has also helped to create excitement about the games.

And it has paid off.

McConachie says many of the audiences have doubled since 1988 in both live attendance and tsn viewers.

‘The level of interest in university athletics is now just below that of professional sports,’ he says.

McConachie has not only been actively marketing the event to students but to alumni.

‘They’re an important part of our audience,’ he says. ‘They’re generally upwardly mobile and can afford what our sponsors are selling.’

McConachie says the interest in university athletics will continue to grow as major corporations continue to downsize because they will look more closely at where they are putting advertising dollars.

‘I’m confident we’re going to be at the top of the pack,’ he says.

And most industry experts agree that not only will corporate sponsors continue pumping money into university athletics, but that the entire campus marketing segment will continue to expand throughout the ’90s.

Marketers of telecommunications, athletic wear, entertainment and the personal care segment will turn up more often as the market unfolds, analysts say.

Others see packaged goods as one of the industry’s most promising growth areas.

Most agree computer and other electronics manufacturers will stay investing heavily in the college segment as personal computers continue to fall in price.

Kirkham says the range of advertising vehicles will continue to expand and campus and community radio will gain recognition as a potent medium for the campus market.

Killoran says not only will there be more players, but marketers will have more sophisticated vehicles for trying to reach their student audience.

In September, MarketSource will be testing its interactive information kiosk on three Canadian university campuses.

The kiosks combine stereo sound, live video, computer animation and graphics and a customized database.

Students will be able to select among 10 different categories from the database, from shopping to entertainment to sports.

They will listen to commercials as they gain access to the category they have chosen. The kiosks will also provide demand couponing capability.

Killoran says the biggest change is likely to be that marketers will be smarter and execute better campaigns within the segment and that there is likely to be greater niche marketing within the campus market.

And despite the fact campuses are getting more crowded as more companies battle it out for a piece of the student market pie, competition remains friendly, at least for now.

‘The more of us that are out there working to make marketers aware of the campus market as a target market unto itself, the better for all of us,’ Halloran says.