Today's college students are called "digital natives" because they've grown up in an era when laptop computers, iPods, BlackBerries, and other portable, electronic technology is the norm. Yet despite this proliferation of "screens" among the Net Generation, this group may be toughest to reach if marketers aren't using the right tools, says Mike Hanley, a journalism faculty member whose interest is researching how marketers may connect with college students through mobile communications devices. "College students are typically the first age group to embrace technology," Hanley says, noting with irony that marketers still find it difficult to connect with these young people because as a whole they don't watch much television and rarely listen to commercial radio. They also shun Internet-based advertising and dislike unsolicited e-mails. So, what's a marketer to do? Hanley believes companies wanting to peddle the latest clothing trends, newest vehicles, and cutting-edge computer technology to college-age students and recent graduates have little choice but to turn to mobile phones (studies show that almost 100 percent of college students own at least one, which they use variously as personal computers, digital music players, and cameras as well as phones)—a prospect with significant consequences for future forms of advertising and promotion. Read about Hanley's research or contact Mike Hanley at 765-285-8213.
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