Millennials are emerging as the successors to the Baby Boomers, with 74 million in the U.S. market. This generation, which was born in between 1982 and 2000, will not only be significant in numbers, but in market opportunity for brands. What is clear is this will be the most educated generation, with nearly 32 million receiving a four year college degree. Understanding and addressing the College Millennial segment, while they are in college, where brand loyalties are more likely being established, will yield significant benefits to brand marketers and advertisers.
What is different about the College Millennial segment? Not only are they highly educated, but they also are technologically savvy, ambitious, and will have much more discretionary income than their peers. They are extremely well-connected with friends through a wide range of digital and social media alternatives. College students in particular have a very different profile than the rest of their peers in this generation. While an early 2014 comScore survey indicates comparable engagement on Facebook with Millennials as a whole at 91%; According to DigitalMediaIX, the college student segment engagement with Facebook was at 96%. Engagement with specific social media platforms, especially fast growing platforms, is significantly higher among college students. For example, 72% of college students were active on Twitter, but only 39% of Millennials. SnapChat had an even larger disparity, with 72% of college students actively using this platform, but only 17% of Millennials, as a whole.
While there are a wide range of estimates of the purchasing power of this generation, College Millennials are expected to earn nearly $1 trillion of income in the next year, nearly 60% of the earnings of their generation. By 2020, they will have earning potential of $2 trillion, more than two thirds of all Millennials.
Understanding this lucrative segment’s social media behavior related to their emerging brand preferences as college students will be critical for building enduring brand connections through digital and earned media in particular.