As the polar vortex dissolves into the heat of spring and summer, students everywhere will be shedding off unwanted layers and gearing up for a semester of pool parties and water-based excursions—for which, naturally, they’ll need some stylish swimwear.
Retailers and designers both large and small—especially those targeting college students—will consequently switch gears, using their marketing dollars to promote all their stock that is now in season and—hopefully—destined to fly off the shelves.
But in a demographic where trends are notoriously short-lived, it’s going to take more than a big budget for a business to convince students which brand to embrace and where to spend their money. Here Study Breaks presents businesses with must-know tips and strategies for marketing swimwear to college students.
Students are constantly looking for retail that’s unique. Whether cleaning out Grandpa’s closet in search of something retro or scouring online databases for that next-level look, students are quick to embrace that which is on the fringes of expected and not just follow trends, but start them.
Flag prints, dollar signs and even marijuana leaves all started out as obscurities within the retail marketplace. After brands like Huf focused on a certain symbol and made it a staple in their product pattern (in this case, the marijuana leaf), students were introduced to an unfamiliar but interesting aesthetic and endorsed the brand as their own.
However, simply copying a long-existing trend can lead to a look that’s either overplayed or just cliché. (Especially because in most cases, by the time the product has been made and is in stock, the trend will already be played out.)
That’s why it’s crucial to stay in tune with what’s trending, and the best way to gauge what is current is social media. It’s also important to stay on top of pop culture trends as they’re on the upswing. If one can exploit a certain symbol of an arising trend, one could very easily end up with something that turns into a must-have on every college student’s swag checklist.
Market Hyper-Niche Patterns
When searching for a specific design or theme idea for a product to successfully market to college students, along with a focus on what’s trending, one can capitalize on the hyper-niche market that is a specific university.
Demonstrating school spirit and an appreciation for the college town via the incorporation of specific colors, mascots and logos (if one can get licensing), slogans (think “Roll Tide!” or “Hook ‘em!”), local landmarks and skylines, etc. in any product is a great way to demonstrate camaraderie with students and appeal to them on a fundamental level. After all, while college students are perhaps the most diverse demographic imaginable, there is one thing that unites them all, and that’s their enrollment in a university that they’re almost certain to be proud of. And by capitalizing on this pride, businesses—especially of the small, local variety—can present a product that many students are sure to clamor for.
When all else fails, students will always respond to the right price. Often a properly placed coupon can serve as the tipping point, inspiring students to make a purchase that they perhaps otherwise wouldn’t. Although retail price is often driven by perception, a price reduction can only benefit a retail company aimed at the college market, where most students are operating on a small budget.
To start trending, a business needs to get their product in the hands (and, in this case, on the bodies) of college students. Creating a coupon and selling one’s product at a low price is an investment of sorts: when students start representing the company by sporting the product, they are, by proxy, advertising the company that created the product. Once the product is in high demand, then companies can offer coupons less frequently, and bank on the pure popularity of the product. But the initial key is breaking into the college market, and a coupon is the perfect way to begin this process.
Work Social Media
Social media integration is a must, and properly working one’s social platforms can often mean the difference between company success and failure. While posting new content is a social media obligation, growing one’s page through contests and coupons is the driving force behind boosting sales.
Here are a few ways to use social media for the marketing of swimwear:
- Run third-party ads
- Like-gate one’s page when offering a coupon, meaning that to receive the discount, students have to “like” the company page first.
- Create online contests (perhaps a photo contest where students submit pictures of themselves doing something interesting or awesome in the company’s product or a modeling contest designed to find the new face of the brand)
- Experiment with different platforms
- Create buzz with exclusive content