Apartment complexes Tempo and The Nine have been using influencer-style efforts to advertise upcoming off-campus apartment buildings in College Park, and some students and marketing experts say it’s working.
Tempo and The Nine at College Park, which are set to open for tenants in fall 2022, have been using different marketing tactics such as Instagram giveaways, free merchandise and brand ambassadors to market to students.
Some giveaways that advertised free Blaze Pizza and Marathon Deli for a select winner have received hundreds of likes and comments on Instagram. One post, which promised free Chipotle for a year to a student who entered, received over two thousand likes.
Roxanne Lefkoff, a clinical professor of marketing and the associate chair of the marketing department, said initiatives like Instagram giveaways and promotions were particularly effective at targeting Gen Z, who are the main market base for these apartments.
“They like contests and games, and they track influencers and things,” she said about Gen Z. “So then it’s a good match between how your target market uses information and the fit for the new product that you’re hoping they’d be interested in.”
Mary Beth Furst, an associate clinical professor of marketing, concurred. These types of tactics are used in part to generate awareness around a brand, she said.
Generating awareness is a big part of The Nine’s marketing strategy, said Matthew McGuigan, a new development lease-up specialist at Asset Living, The Nine’s marketing company. He pointed out that a few key players in the College Park housing market had a “chokehold” on the market and that The Nine is hoping to impress students with their new marketing tactics that meet students where they are.
“You can’t attract students without relating directly to students and the only way to relate to students is by understanding their lifestyle,” he said.
Some students, like Hershal Rami, are taking note. The junior applied mathematics and computer science major said the giveaways to popular restaurants like Insomnia Cookies and Marathon have piqued the interest of students.
“It’s a good way to kind of get the name out to UMD students so they recognize it, while also giving them something so they’re not just annoyed by seeing ads everywhere,” Rami said.
For The Nine, prioritizing social media in their strategy seems to be working — McGuigan said that several students had signed leases over Instagram direct message, going purely off of the social media brand.
The Nine bought The Enclave in March 2021 and is in the process of renovating the building. Furst thinks The Nine’s efforts to rebrand and market to students might stem from the need to overcome the distance barrier and provide more information to students.
Another way new apartments are attempting to appeal to college students is through student brand ambassadors who are featured in Instagram posts and work in the leasing offices.
Ilhaam Lakhani, a sophomore government and politics and management major, said The Nine’s student representatives know how to appeal to the student body and she appreciated the strategy of using college students to market the apartments, since she hasn’t seen other apartments use that tactic before.
“We have such a large proportion of UMD students who are actively posting,” Lakhani said. “It’s everywhere, and isn’t nearly as prevalent for other different apartments like The [University] View or The Varsity.”
Rosellina Ferraro, an associate marketing professor, pointed to a “general shift in the way that companies market to their audience as a way to explain why newer marketing tactics that target Gen Z are more prominent.”
“Getting information from these brand ambassadors … it’ll seem more credible, you’ll put more value into what’s being said as opposed to it coming directly from the company,” she said.
And while Rami thinks students prioritize location and price more often, the marketing toward student lifestyle and amenities appeals to the college town environment for students who are looking for community.
“I’ve never really heard of apartment buildings doing this kind of targeted, influencer-style marketing,” Rami said. “To me, I feel like it’s something that really only would work in a college town.”