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Marketing Insights: How the Class of 2016 Sees the World

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Marketing Insights: How the Class of 2016 Sees the World

College-Students1-300x299If you sell to college students, the annual Beloit College Mindset List is a must-read. Each year, Beloit’s researchers profile the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college.

It’s always fun to imagine how life looks to an 18-year-old. But the Beloit Mindset List is more than entertaining. It’s also a critically important tool for marketers who sell to this influential demographic.

Here are some insights from the 2016 Beloit Mindset List for your smart marketing strategy.

Why You Need to Get Your References Right

Making cultural references is one of the most common creative tactics in advertising. Marketers refer to a time, person, phrase, or event that many people recognize – or to a one-of-a-kind experience that many people shared – to bond with the audience or evoke a memory that has some relationship to the creative concept or the product.

But cultural references can be tricky. If your audience can’t relate to the references you use in marketing, your ads will make you look outdated and clueless – and no one can spot that faster than a teenager.

The View from the Class of 2016

If teens and college students are your market, you need to see the world through their eyes. Here some points from the Mindset List for the college class of 2016 that I think are especially interesting to marketers:

  • Born in 1994, their lives have always been digital and web-based.
  • They watch television everywhere but on a television.
  • They don’t recall videotapes or audiotapes, only CDs and DVDs.
  • Listening to music is done via an MP3 player or iPod, not a car radio, and many are entering college with a significant hearing loss.
  • Point and shoot cameras are old-fashioned devices.
  • Their smartphones are decorated with icons for products they probably never use: A floppy disk for “save,” a desk phone for “phone” and an envelope for “send.”
  • They’ve never seen a paper airplane ticket and luggage has always had wheels.
  • Exposed bra straps have always been a fashion statement, not a fashion faux pas.
  • Their parents have never purchased a new set of bound encyclopedias.
  • They are “the most tribal generation in history” and their tribe is their friends. According to Beloit, “They despise being separated from contact with similar-age friends.”
  • They have lived in an era of “instant stardom and self-proclaimed celebrities, famous for being famous.”
  • They are accustomed to seeing women in leadership roles, such as in government foreign policy.
  • Richard Nixon, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Selena, and Kurt Cobain have never been alive in their lifetimes.

The full Beloit list has 75 points of reference for the college class of 2016. What points do you think are of most interest to marketers?

For tips on how to use cultural references effectively in a marketing strategy, see my previous post.

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