Your client at the college bookstore
Inserting targeted ad messages in shopping bags
September 18, 2005
College enrollment is at an all-time high his fall, and so is students’ spending power. Advertisers know that young adults often stick with the brands they adopt in college after they graduate. One avenue to reach college spenders is when they are in the college bookstore, purchasing required textbooks and supplies.
To find out how to get your client’s message in the bag at the college bookstore, read on.
This is one in a Media Life series on buying new out-of-home venues. They appear weekly.
Advertising in and on plastic bags used in college bookstores to package students’ purchases.
Encompass Media Group, headquartered in New York.
How it works
Advertising inserts are placed with student purchases inside college bookstore bags. Encompass calls the program Campus Book Store Media. The size and weight of inserts can vary, with weight being the most significant factor in terms of availability and cost. Sizes range from postcard size to 8.5 inches by 11 inches.
The message can also be on a strip of the bag, says partner Adam Pierce. Inserts can be one- or two-sided and can contain a coupon or other offers.
Right now we have a National Guard campaign, and the insert is in the shape of a circle, says partner Don Winter.
We can create a flyer, a pamphlet, a book. As long as it doesn’t weigh too much, Pierce says. The same message goes to all targeted schools in a campaign.
Everyone gets an insert, Pierce says. Every size bag has an insert, and so they go to every customer. They’re already in the bag so it’s never an issue with the cashier.
Product samples can be placed in bags with or without inserts. An advertiser generally chooses one or the other. It could be a CD-ROM or a DVD, a small magazine, a box of Altoids or a stick of gum, Pierce says.
Creative is provided by the advertiser and is usually specifically developed to target the college population.
It depends on what the client is trying to accomplish, Pierce says. It can be sampling like a small tube of toothpaste targeting students. That would be one thing. If a credit card company wants to get a customer base started through college students, that’s another. Or it might be recruiting for the National Guard.”
Advertisers can buy a semester or an entire academic year.
Basically, we know exactly how many bags each college will go through on a yearly base, Pierce says. We do about 70 percent in August and September at the start of the fall semester, about 20 percent at the beginning of winter semester, and the remaining 10 percent throughout the rest of the year.
There can be multiple advertisers connected to a giveaway. We could include 10 companies in that bag if they’re all doing postcards. It all comes down to weight.
Product exclusivity is offered. An advertiser can buy the network or cherry-pick schools or regions. The program can stand alone.
The program is in 1,422 schools located in 31 states. Schools include Notre Dame, Brown University, Bowling Green State University, Cornell, Kent State, Georgia Tech, Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore, Purdue, Penn State, Cal. State and Texas Tech.
We own 75 percent of the college bookstore market, Pierce says.
Each year 20 million plus bags are distributed to college students.
Distribution numbers are used. Multiple impressions are possible because most students live in group situations on and off campus. Coupon redemption can also be used.
A recent Harris Interactive study found that college students’ spending represents a $175 billion slice of consumer spending, a figure that represents an expansion in size, spending power overall and discretionary income.
What product categories do well
The list includes anybody looking to reach a college audience, Pierce says, including credit card companies, fast food, packaged goods, pizza and personal care items like toothpaste, as well as products that target the young like acne remedies.
The Army National Guard is the first advertiser to use the new program.
Categories that aren’t accepted include alcohol and anything that competes with the bookstore inventory.
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics & Student Monitor, supplied by Encompass:
College and university students have spending power of more than $100 billion a year.
Seventy percent of all college students have their own credit cards.
Nearly half of all students visit the internet more than once daily.
Groups are targeted by school and by state. We can use a demographic description of student by school, Pierce says. If somebody wants a higher Asian skew, we can do that. That information is available.
Making the buy
Lead time is related to two annual closing dates. Oct. 15 is the deadline for winter semester and June 15 is the deadline for fall semester. Factors that affect cost include weight, number of inserts and special programs.
The general range would be 6 cents to 10 cents per sample or insert, not including production, if a client is looking to dominate the category and reach the masses, Pierce says.
A minimum buy is 400,000 units. All bags are printable plastic.
Who’s already on college inserts
The Army National Guard, Proactiv Solution, Pert Shampoo and Quickcollegecash.com are recent or current advertisers.
Web site info
Encompass Media at www.encompassmediagroup.com
Check out the Media Life archives for these articles about college-based advertising:
Your Client Greeting Returning Students, August 2004
Your Client in College Laundries, November 2003
Your Client Where the Boys Are, February 2003
Reach Joe and Jane College on Campus, October 2001
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