Share.Like.Buy 2015: Connecting with Millennials in College

Posted by: Jeff Fromm

While most Marketing to Millennials™ strategies are being focused on young adults who are in the workforce and have their own disposable incomes, there is a population of millennials that are still in college and interact with brands in a different way. Activating these young adults, who are not quite on their own yet and are still heavily involved in the educational process, should a major focus for brands that are in the business of engaging millennials. Adam Grant, CEO of Campus Commandos, will be a featured speaker at ShareLikeBuy on September 29-30 this year and will share his insights and experience about helping brands connect to this powerful population of millennials. We spoke to Adam before ShareLikeBuy to get a sneak peak of what he will be presenting at the event.


LS: How are millennials approaching their education differently than previous generations? Are they placing as much value on a traditional degree or are they more interested in the hands on experiences?

AG: Because more and more people are going to college, an undergraduate degree no longer stands alone as a differentiation piece.  Millennials are the generation most widely affected by this trend. Although they understand the importance of a good education, millennials seek experiences to supplement traditional education, and these experiences are the differentiation the “workforce of the future” will reward.

LS: What are millennials looking for in the classroom? How are universities implementing more technology into their curriculums?

AG: Students today seek a combination of activities in the classroom and not the classic one-hour PowerPoint lectures.  To follow up my answer to the first question, students are looking for experiences to differentiate themselves as they prepare to enter the workforce.  Universities are blogging, incorporating social media-focused classes, and even new majors and focus areas, like entrepreneurship.  In order to keep millennials engaged, learning needs to evolve to fit their need for engagement. Universities have adjusted to this need by replacing physical textbooks with e-books, exams with real life experiences and old slides with rich media content

LS: What are the major things students are looking for from brands while they are in school? What are the driving influencers when it comes to making a purchase? (price, convenience, quality, etc.)

AG: Students are asking whether brands engage with them in the way they are engaging with everything else – through their mobile devices. Brands need to have a good mobile experience if they want to succeed in winning over this generation. Peer influence and saving money still rank highly, although we are seeing more “cause-based” marketing.  This marketing strategy has been particularly effective with millennials and younger generations, as they tend to be passionate about causes they support.

LS: What are the best-case examples of brands marketing to college students?

AG: Men’s Wearhouse. They are pretty savvy when it comes to their college marketing strategy. When are students thinking about suits? Career Fair time. That is when MW focuses their marketing on college campuses. They don’t talk to students during Spring Break. MW talks to them about putting their best suit forward in the weeks leading up to the career fairs on campus and during prime interviewing season. This is the time students want to learn about suits. Suits are MW’s bread and butter. It’s a win-win.

LS: How can brands earn millennial loyalty while in college that will translate to loyalty after graduation?

AG: College is often the first time young people are truly independent. Mom and Dad are no longer filling up the cabinets; so this is their first time making the purchasing decisions at a grocery store and elsewhere.  It is the brand’s job to speak to students during this time. Each brand will need to determine its own approach to success with college students, but forming a connection and fighting for a cause are two effective ways to win the loyalty battle. Millennials are the most altruistic and socially connected demographic that this country has ever seen, and they want a brand that not only appreciates that, but will play to those needs and desires.

For more information about ShareLikeBuy please contact Adam Van Paris at To register for the event, click HERE!

About Jeff Fromm

Although not a Millennial as defined by his age, Jeff Fromm is the Millennial Marketing Guy. Jeff is President of FutureCast, a marketing consultancy that specializes in Millennial trends, and is a contributing writer at...See Jeff's full bio.