09/26/2013 12:23 EDT | Updated 11/26/2013 05:12 EST

Helping Students is Good for Your Bottom Line

In recent weeks we've heard a lot about the rising cost of tuition for Canadian post-secondary education and the enormous mental and financial burden facing post-secondary students.

Many reports suggest that upwards of 90 per cent of post-secondary students face high levels of stress and anxiety, mostly related to their finances, getting a job, personal relationships, and getting better grades. In fact, 55 per cent of students have anxiety about three or more of these issues and over 50 per cent of these students feel hopeless when it comes to solving their problems. Almost two thirds feel alone and have nowhere to turn.

Clearly, students need help and feel there's no one providing it.

We can all agree that youth are important to the future of our country: they are our future leaders, producers and consumers that will drive our economy and standard of living. However, there is also a tremendous double bottom line opportunity for organizations that choose to step up and help a generation of overburdened and stressed-out students.

In a recent survey conducted through our Uthink Market Research panel, we learned that a staggering two out three students will be loyal to brands they perceive as helping students.

This means that there are roughly 1.3 million Canadian post-secondary students who are willing to support a brand if that brand is willing to authentically show they are interested in helping them.

Helping students is now the number one engagement opportunity for brands who are trying to gain students as consumers or recruit them as employees. Investing in our youth in a genuine manner is an opportunity to create a true win-win-win relationship.

I want to emphasize the importance of building a genuine relationship with this demographic - students are smart and savvy, and are bombarded by thousands of messages every day. Brands must build trust with their audiences and be willing to support them in a genuine, meaningful way in order to build brand attraction and retention.

This can be accomplished by finding ways to give youth a voice/opinion about their preferences, providing meaningful scholarship opportunities or special offers tailored to their needs.

Organizations that step up and attract young customers in a meaningful way will help attract more business and more talent interested in working for them. Students win by getting the help they so desperately need, and we all win by helping our future talent build confidence and make a seamless transition into the workforce.