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Marketing to College Kids? 5 Disclaimers You May Need to Add

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. | Last updated on

It's becoming increasingly clear to business owners: college students are a consumer group to be reckoned with.

StudentUniverse CEO Atle Skalleberg says that Generation Y -- the demographic encompassing those currently in their teens and twenties -- is now estimated to be the largest consumer group in history with back-to-school spending by college students in this U.S. this year expected to top $30 billion according U.S. National Retail Federation reports. But marketing to college kids requires a few extra precautions. Tech-savvy and deal-hungry college students are great at finding the loopholes in promotions and deals.

Here are five disclaimers you may need to add to your college marketing materials:

  1. No photocopies or printouts of coupons. Specify on any print coupons that only originals will be accepted, not photocopies. Likewise, online or mobile coupons meant to drive customers to your website should specify the manner of redemption (e.g. "offer only valid online") to prevent printed-out web coupons from making their way into your brick-and-mortar location.
  2. Quantity limits. Especially when a promotion is a short-term fire-sale or loss-leader promotion, limiting the quantity of items for which the coupon can be used or the number of times a customer can take advantage of a promotion can prevent a feeding frenzy scenario. Best Buy learned this lesson the hard way in 2013, when consumers used multiple coupons to buy thousands of dollars worth of merchandise and gift cards at half price.
  3. Make sure your coupon/offer expires. Along with limiting the number of times a coupon can be used, setting an expiration date for a coupon or promotional offer is an absolute must. However, for certain types of promotions, such as gift cards or online deal websites such as Groupon, federal and state laws may require the promotion remain valid for a specific length of time.
  4. Valid/Currently enrolled student ID only. If you're tailoring your marketing to college students, as opposed to just college-aged people, be sure to limit any promotions to those with valid college ID cards. Many former students hang on to old college IDs for the specific purpose of saving money on college student promotions.
  5. Social media contest FTC disclosures. The Federal Trade Commission has specific rules for online contests requiring disclosure of any material connection between a company and an "endorser" which can include anyone posting to social media for a chance to win a contest. Fashion brand Cole Haan drew the FTC's ire with a Pinterest contest earlier this year in which contestants created Pinterest boards featuring Cole Haan shoes for a chance to win $1000 shopping spree.

Don't let your business be outsmarted by college freshmen, put these disclaimers to work.

  • Need legal advice on how your small business should operate? Consult with an experienced business attorney about your options.
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