Why Advertise to Students? (College Students as a Target Market)

Topics: Marketing Toolkit, Millennials + Gen Z, Campus Media

Posted by: Marketing

Campus advertising is valuable to an incredible range of businesses for several reasons. As we mentioned in our previous post, university advertising reaches a vast, diverse, and economically powerful consumer group. Learn the many important reasons why your company should advertise to students, and how it will benefit your business.



College students comprise a significant portion of the young adult population in the United States. 

When you advertise to students, you reach a large segment of the Generation Z audience. According to EducationData.org:

  • Undergraduate college enrollment totals 17.5 million students nationwide. 
  • 4.3 million graduate students are enrolled in American colleges.
  • 12.8 million American 18- to 24-year-olds are enrolled in college or graduate school.
  • 37.8% of American males aged 18 to 24 years are enrolled in college or graduate school.
  • 46.7% of American females aged 18 to 24 years are enrolled in college or graduate school.


Campus ads reach a widely varied audience in terms of both gender and race.

Businesses who advertise to students will engage both young men and young women, as well as students from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

  • 55.5% of undergraduate and graduate students are women.
  • 55.2% of college students are Caucasian.
  • 19.5% of the student population is Hispanic or Latino.
  • 9.6% of college students are African American.
  • 7% of college students are Asian, and 3% are Pacific Islander.
  • 3.9% of students are multiracial.

While most college students are between the ages of 18 and 24, campus advertising also reaches their parents, professors, coaches, and other influencers. Advertising on campus is also an excellent way for businesses to reach a variety of niche audiences, including Hispanic college students, multicultural college students, African American college students, low HHI college students, students at HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities), and major-specific audiences, like those in STEM and tech-related majors.


+ Create effective buyer personas to reach and engage your target market.


MSSmedia Buyer Persona Worksheet





Campus advertising reaches college students at a pivotal point in their development as consumers. 

As they transition from teenagers to twenty-somethings, college students take their first steps into true adulthood. They become responsible for meeting more of their own needs, and their consumer demands grow. They’re eating away from home, furnishing dorm rooms and apartments, taking responsibility for their own transportation, shopping for new wardrobes, and expanding their entertainment horizons. Many come from affluent homes and have plenty of disposable income.

Every year, millions of college students graduate and begin professional jobs, many earning more money than they ever have before.  In fact, in recent years, the median earnings of young adults with a bachelor’s degree was $50,000 (64% higher than those of young adults with only a high school diploma). 

Companies that advertise to students are a step ahead of the rest. The college years are prime time for businesses and brands to get in on the ground floor, create connections with this group of potential customers, present solutions to their challenges, and build brand trust and loyalty.



“College inspired me to think differently. It's like no other time in your life." 



College students have significant purchasing power.

Because students from more affluent backgrounds are significantly more likely to enroll in college, many college students can afford higher-end housing, dining out, a variety of paid entertainment options, and other non-essential and luxury purchases. In fact, college students collectively have $593 billion available to spend. 

In addition to paying for tuition, here’s how some of that spending breaks down:

  • As a group, per year, college students spend $65 billion on food, $5.5 billion on alcohol, and $2.4 billion on entertainment.
  • In the course of earning a 4-year degree, the average college student will spend almost $53,000 on personal expenses, $16,500 on rent, and $4,000 on eating out.


MSSmedia OOH and DOOH





Those who advertise to students have a unique marketing advantage.

Campus advertising campaigns allow you to target your marketing efforts geographically. College students are a captive audience – living, learning, working, eating, shopping and socializing within a limited area. Strategically placed ads concentrate your campaign on your intended viewers and generate repeat exposure.


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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