NEW YORK, NY – 09/20/2016 – Chegg, the Student Hub, and global media agency, UM, recently collaborated to better understand how today’s 18 to 24 year-olds are impacted by defining moments during their college years – a major transition period. The study, entitled “College Matters,” defines these critical moments and reveals how brands can meaningfully engage and connect with this audience. Chegg and UM will jointly present the findings at the Youth Marketing Strategy conference in New York City on September 21, 2016.

“Becoming a college student and subsequently entering the ‘real-world’ are pivotal, transitional times for young adults,” said Mitch Spolan, EVP of Brand Partnerships at Chegg. “By surveying this audience, we uncovered how brands can support and engage college students, a large cohort of future consumers with great future spending power, in a memorable way during key periods in their life.”

Students experience a series of defining moments throughout their college careers, starting with the application process for admission.

Regardless of their year in school, many of the most meaningful moments for college students typically occur early in their college journey. When asked to think about their most significant experiences over the past several years:

  • 76% remembered the first college that accepted them
  • 75% reported doing well on their first test
  • And 71% acknowledged getting their first bad grade

These types of moments, understood in context, can help facilitate brand engagement. Older students remember pivotal times that require greater responsibility:

  • 53% of fourth year students recalled signing their first lease
  • 56% noted traveling with friends
  • And 52% mentioned their first college relationship

Students don’t live in a bubble

Students are also attuned to the world around them. When asked about current events that they’re following in the news:

  • 92% noted the 2016 elections
  • 82% noted ISIS and terrorism
  • 75% mentioned gun control
  • And 71% said sexual violence on campus

Brand affinity is less about “me” and more about “we”

A consistent shift is underway with how brands interact with students.

  • Fewer students remember advertising that makes them laugh (65% in 2016 vs. 75% in 2015)
  • Fewer students are moved by advertising that feels authentic (65% in 2016 vs. 70% in 2015)
  • Fewer students will advocate for brands that reward their loyalty (68% in 2016 vs. 75% in 2015)
  • Students consistently believe that it’s important for companies to give back to the community (88% in 2016 vs. 87% in 2015)

College Students are engaging with brands differently

Students today spend 56 hours per week engaging with media, and more than ever before, they want to control the way in which they consume content and branded entertainment. Currently, almost half use streaming–only services for content, a 15% increase since 2015. This is also shifting their behavior, most notably in how they interact with advertisements. More students notice ads via online video sites, mobile apps and Facebook rather than traditional channels such as TV, radio, magazine or billboards.

Digital vs. Traditional

  • 63% noticed ads on online video sites (vs. 36% in 2013)
  • 51% noticed Facebook banner ads (vs. 33% in 2013)
  • 47% noticed ads within mobile apps (vs. 27% in 2013)
  • 50% noticed ads on television (vs. 66% in 2013)
  • 38% noticed ads on radio (vs. 46% in 2013)
  • 20% noticed ads in magazines (vs. 48% in 2013)

Students also enjoy interacting with brands on social media platforms. Nearly half of students follow brands on Facebook (49% female and 45% male) and 45% of females follow brands on Instagram, compared with 26% of males.

“We are incredibly proud to be partnering with Chegg on such an important and vital piece of research,” said Joshua Lowcock, EVP Head of Digtal, U.S., UM. “Their expertise in this space combined with UM’s propriety Moments-based approached to media planning promises to deliver outstanding results for clients looking to reach this essential, dynamic demographic.”

By learning how to connect with students during key moments and on their terms, brands will create lifelong relationships with this elusive demographic. As a company that puts students first and reaches more than 40 million unique visitors annually (according to comScore U.S. Annual Unique Visitors (Custom Analytics), April 2015 – March 2016.) with enriching and entertaining experiences, Chegg strives to build deep ties and more meaningful interactions between students and the brands they love. Full findings and brand implications will be unveiled on Wednesday, September 21st in a mid afternoon panel from 2:20pm – 2:50pm Eastern Time at YMS New York, located at The Landing At Industry City. For more information about YMS, visit


Guided and recorded discussions with 35 students across 10 friendship groups at schools including Columbia University, Boston University, University of Washington and Chapman University were fielded between April and May of 2016. Quantitative survey results were gathered and analyzed from 544 respondents among “CheggHeads,” a proprietary panel of nearly 12,000 students who voluntarily provide insights about student-related topics. The survey was weighted by gender to match the overall U.S. College population based on NCES statistics.