How to Advertise to Low HHI College Students (a Growing Audience)

Topics: Campus Media

Posted by: Marketing

The share of American adults who live in middle class households has steadily contracted in the past five decades, while the percentage of low income households continues to rise. Almost one-third of households in the U.S. now qualify as low income, and this trend shows no sign of stopping. Marketers who currently focus their advertising efforts on middle and upper class audiences would do well to consider reaching out to this growing sector of the population. Advertising to low HHI college students (those who come from low income households) offers several significant benefits.

College Students

Why Advertise to Low HHI College Students

According to a recent survey, on average a college student will spend $99,417 over the course of their degree. While students spend the majority of this money on tuition fees and accommodation, they also spend a significant amount of money recreationally. On average, young adults will spend over $5000 on various forms of entertainment during their college degree, and more than $4000 on eating out and takeaway food. 

Low-income consumers have less disposable income to spend on luxury goods and services than consumers in top income brackets. However, they still spend up to 40% of their budget on discretionary items and services. Making the effort to build brand loyalty with low HHI students should be seen as a building block for your business’ future success. It’s estimated that the lifetime spending potential of college graduates is $1 million more than those who do not attain a college degree, so there’s a lot of money to be made by gaining and keeping these consumers’ loyalty.


+ Read “Why Advertise to College Students.”


MSS Media - Value of Campus Advertising




How to Advertise to Low HHI College Students

Consider your copy.

In general, consumers in lower-income brackets prefer straightforward, literal copy that is clear and to-the-point. Focus on the value of your product or service and provide information about its long-term benefits. If it compares favorably to a similar higher priced option, be sure to point this out.



“What really decides consumers to buy or not to buy is the content of your advertising, not its form. 



Create accessible calls to action.

Students from families with lower HHI may be working to put themselves through school and spending significant time utilizing public transportation. Calls to action that require additional travel or a large time commitment might not be practical. 


Offer a free event, coupon, or discount.

For students with limited disposable funds, free events, content, giveaways, and discounts may be especially enticing.


Choose ad placements wisely.

Members of low HHI households are more likely to use public transportation, making transit advertising particularly valuable in reaching this population.


+ Learn the value of OOH/DOOH, transit ads, and postering.


Lower-income individuals also spend nearly six hours more per month online than middle-class users. Thus digital advertising is likely to have significant reach and relevance for this target market. Ads on Facebook and video streaming platforms are particularly likely to garner significant viewership from the lower HHI demographic.


Make digital ads mobile friendly.

Like everyone else, low-income audiences are spending more time online via their mobile devices each year, and unlike their wealthier counterparts, they don’t mind mobile ads. According to IXI Services, a division of Equifax, consumers making over $100,000 a year tend to find mobile ads annoying and uninformative. On the other hand, consumers with lower annual income tend to find these ads entertaining and/or informative. 


+ Amplify your campus marketing campaign with mobile apps.


See our complete guide to advertising to university students.




Here at MSS Media, Inc., we’ve been providing Education, Government, Real Estate & Lifestyle clients with succinct, optimized, and successful marketing solutions for more than 15 years. Consider MSS Media, Inc. a full-service, one-stop shop for all your Media and Public Relations needs. Your goals are our motivation. And our mission is to propel your message, further and faster, to achieve the outcomes you’re looking for. If you found this blog post helpful, please share!

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