If you’re an entrepreneur, you know the success of your business depends on your ability to market your brand to the right audience. With increasing numbers rushing every year, US News & World Report reveals Greek organizations represent up to 88 percent of the student body at some universities. With more than 400,000 current undergraduate members in over 3,000 chapters on college campuses across the country, according to the 2017 National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), sororities, in particular, are a demographic with considerable influence.
Here are five reasons to pay attention to college women who go Greek.
1. Sorority sisters stick together
In her article for Canvas8, anthropologist Andrea Graham Richeson says, “While contemporary youth culture may champion individual expression, sorority culture embraces cohesive identities that reflect membership, social status and aspiration. Furthermore, members report feeling empowered by their role as a well-connected individual who can make things happen.”
Branding is an essential part of sororities’ group identities, as many chapters wear matching shirts with their Greek letters on certain occasions. Richeson interviews a student at the University of Central Florida who found the brand recognition comforting: “Coming from out of state, I knew absolutely nobody. I would be wearing my shirt, and it made the biggest difference to me that when I was walking through campus, an older girl who I’ve never seen before in my life would wave and say, ‘Hi.’ They didn’t know my name then, but they would eventually.”
If you can make a sale to one sorority member, she might come back with the rest of her chapter. By making your brand synonymous with the sorority’s brand, every order will be a bulk order, and every new or even potential member becomes a customer without any additional effort on your part.
2. Sisters are trendsetters
“Their reputation as popular influencers and their ability to mainstream trends on campus has helped many clothing, make-up and tech brands go from virtual unknowns to status symbols seemingly overnight,” says Richeson.
In her article in Bloomberg Businessweek, Kim Bhasin describes how the women in a sorority chapter “share a signature fashion sense, built around a cluster of brands, to whom they are fiercely loyal. If a brand manages to penetrate this conservative enclave, it has struck gold.” She describes the sorority-led explosion of L.L. Bean duck boots, J.Crew cardigans, Patagonia pullovers, Lilly Pulitzer shift dresses, Kate Spade satchels, and Tory Burch ballet flats.
Katie Bulmer, author of Sorority Girls Can Change the World, describes one dramatic example: “Sorority girls decided they liked Comfort Colors brand T-shirts…The chapters caught on as a whole and started ordering in bulk for all their events. Chapter after chapter the word spread… Working in this industry I started getting emails every week notifying us of stock shortages as factories started working overtime to create more tees!”
The company later sold for $100 million, which was ten times its previous net worth. Bulmer has witnessed a pattern: “What was once considered nerdy, sloppy, or irrelevant turns into a multi-million-dollar business when sorority girls decide it’s cool.”
3. Sisters are social media mavens
Bulmer points out sorority women’s passion, willingness to cooperate, and ability to network: “[They have] on average, 50 percent more followers on social media than their non-Greek peers. With any given post, sorority women can influence their social platform of thousands of people.”
The Comfort Colors T-shirt craze she describes was driven largely by a series of Instagram photos and blog posts. As Richeson notes, it’s no coincidence that sororities and their male counterparts were the original promoters of Facebook and Snapchat as well as dating apps like Bumble and Tinder.
4. ‘Tis the season for sororities
Spring recruitment is in full swing, and that means there’s a huge market for lettered merchandise, from racerback tanks and v-necks to hooded sweatshirts and flannel pajama pants. Clothing is only the tip of the iceberg; online vendors like GreekU offer hats, jewelry, sunglasses, phone cases, water bottles, and personalized stationery.
During Rush Week, chapters will be shopping for swag to represent themselves on campus. Potential new members will be updating their wardrobes so they can dress to impress and get a get a bid from the sorority of their choice. Bigs will be shopping for gifts for their littles, and littles will be shopping for the perfect sorority dress for their first formal. Sisters will also be in the market for custom graduation stoles.
5. Today’s sisters are tomorrow’s leaders
Despite their reputation as party-goers, Greek women are, according to Richeson, 20 percent more likely to graduate and maintain higher GPAs than their non-Greek counterparts. The NPC reports that Greek organizations awarded $5,860,050 in scholarships to sorority members in 2017 alone, which, at a time of increasing student debt and limited alternative funding, gives sorority members a distinct advantage. However, sisters also give back; in that same period, sororities raised $34,093,349 for charity and completed 2,484,069 community service hours.
That superior education, leadership experience, and social awareness translate into greater purchasing power, social capital, and community involvement after graduation, which makes them valuable customers for life. The number of fraternities represented among the US Congress and the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies has been widely reported, but it’s sororities who are poised to shatter the glass ceiling.
Were you or any of your female friends in a sorority? Let us know in the comments about your perspective on going Greek.
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