Grads more valuable than you know

Meet the college and university graduates of the near future. They've got youthful enthusiasm and smarts - and lots of money to burn....

Meet the college and university graduates of the near future. They’ve got youthful enthusiasm and smarts – and lots of money to burn.

The Conference Board of Canada recently released a report entitled "What To Do Before The Well Runs Dry," which suggests that as baby boomers retire in large numbers, many sectors will be desperate for newly minted grads.

Now, isn’t this potentially a marketer’s dream?

Think about it. Graduates will be in a prime position to negotiate top salaries. Estimates put some entry-level paydays at close to $100,000 a year. Not bad when you consider the grim prospects and low wages that greeted many grads of the early ’80s.

Generations Research and Clegg Campus Marketing recently completed a study called Campus Scan, a cross-Canada survey of some 500 students in the 18-24 age range. This has given us some interesting insight into these soon-to-be-big-spenders – their motivations, aspirations, fears and insecurities, not to mention their views on media, advertising, brands and so on.

So who are they?

Well, they’re certainly a unique, multi-faceted bunch. In fact, Campus Scan identified four major groups: Traditionalists, Mainstreamers, Trend Setters and Wall Street Wannabees.

Typically, they describe themselves as investors – and seemingly savvy ones – even though most are living on less than $10,000 a year (and two in five are making a paltry $5,000 or less). Seven out of 10 consider themselves good at saving their money, and just over four-fifths believe themselves to be financially responsible.

Some even have enough left over to invest. Two out of five told us they invested in stocks, bonds and/or funds in the past year.

For the most part, they don’t appear overly impressed with the financial industry. More than half say they wish financial institutions had more respect for people their age. A similar percentage say they’d be loyal to any financial institution that would give them a break right now. That’s a point that financial marketers ought to think about.

But students aren’t all serious – they like adventure too. Just about everyone expressed a desire for excitement and new experiences. Four out of five say they like to be the first to try new things. Obviously, that makes them good prospects for innovative new products and marketing approaches.

On the other hand, they’re also more traditional than might be expected. Almost nine out of 10 identified getting married and having children as one of their goals.

Given all this, how exactly do they define themselves?

Well, they use the word "honest," first and foremost, and value this trait in the advertising they are constantly exposed to. They also describe themselves as happy, generous and hard-working.

Men are more likely than women to describe themselves as leaders – as well as carefree, cool, athletic and party animals.

Women are more apt than men to see themselves as emotional, energetic and stressed-out. (Marketers might want to be especially nice to these women: They are also more likely than males to describe themselves as compulsive shoppers and impulse buyers.)

On the other hand, males are still more likely to be early adopters of technology. Some 16% say they made an Internet purchase in the past year – twice the number of women who did.

Do students like the marketing approaches used to woo them? Not exactly. At the very least, there’s room for improvement by advertisers. Only 16% of students say there’s a lot of television advertising to which they feel a real connection. And only one in five say that they’ve bought some products because they liked the advertising.

And this in spite of their frequent exposure to all the most popular forms of marketing communications. In a typical week, three-fifths will read a newspaper, three-fifths will listen to two or more hours of radio and just over half will watch five-plus hours of TV.

If you like the sound of a profitable relationship with a high-value customer who’ll be there for the long haul, then it’s time to take a good, hard look at the student market. But first, take some time to learn more about them. Show them that you understand their dreams and aspirations – and offer to help get them there.

Glenn Saxby is senior research consultant with Toronto-based Generations Research.

Also in this report:

- Those cool Chupa Chicks: Chupa Chups’ grassroots efforts to lick Canada has edgy scooter girls taking to the streets and talking up the club crowd p.B2

- Labatt employs dry humour: Moderation campaign relies on insights from student target p.B4

- Advertising to kids in Quebec no picnic: Know the rules or suffer the consequences p.B10

- Dentyne Ice locks lips with youth target: Has built ongoing campaign on theme of anticipating that first kiss p.B14

From Karen Howe’s dining table: Creativity, COVID and Cannes

ICYMI, The Township's founder gathers the best of the best campaigns and trends so far.

Cannes Base Camp

By Karen Howe

I’m attending Cannes from the glory of my dining room table. There’s not a palm tree in sight, yet inspiration and intel are present in abundance.

Cannes Lions is a global cultural pulse check. The social course correction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM has delivered far greater diversity in the judging panels as well as the work. And we are all better for it.

I’m proud to say that creativity defeated COVID, which speaks to its power. Great work and big ideas flourished, despite unimaginable odds.

The work from the past two years spans a vast emotional range. From the profundity of Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” to the hyper exuberance of Burberry’s “Festive,” they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but each answered a need in us.

Take note, the ascendency of gaming cannot be understated. Smart brands have embraced the channel. It makes sense, because gamers participate to meet others around the world, not just to play. And they represent a huge and powerful community. That’s why QSR Wendy’s gamified their iconic gal in RPG’s Feast of Legends.

Burger King sponsored the unknown Stevenage Football Club, transforming the team into online heroes and vaulting BK into the fray at the same time. Once again, the brand embedded itself in culture.

The birth of gaming tourism arrived when Xbox snuggled up to travel guides and created a brilliant baby: a travel guide for gaming worlds. It, too, embedded itself in culture.

From the standpoint of social good, Reporter Without Borders showed how it worked with Mindcraft for its “Uncensored Library” to bypass press censorship, with Minecraft providing a loophole to a space where young people could be educated. It provided youth with a powerful tool to fight oppression: truth.

COVID changed us in unexpected ways. We learned how to pay attention again and there was a notable lack of 30-second commercials. Instead, longer format content thrived. Apple’s WFH was seven minutes long. Entertainment reigned king, so we find ourselves returning to our advertising roots.

Seeing competitive brands form partnerships was one of this year’s other great surprises. The brilliantly simple “Beer Cap Project” by Aguila to reduce binge-drinking saw the brand reach out to competitive beers to join in. Aguila put incentivizing (keyword: free) reminders to drink water, eat food and get home safely on its bottle caps from all sorts of fast food chains, ride-share co’s and H2O brands.

On a personal level, I’m so proud of Canada again this year. Given that it was two years of work from all over the world being judged, even making the Cannes shortlist was an accomplishment. Canada is herding in the Lions in tremendous numbers – and it’s not even over. Fingers are crossed.

KAREN-HOWE-PIC-higher-rez-300x263Karen Howe is a Canadian Cannes Advisory Board Member and founder of The Township Group