Methods for Improving Healthy Diet and Exercise Habits among College Students

Target Audience Analysis

As a nation, we are plagued by preventable disease, most commonly obesity and the diseases that spring from being over weight. These diseases include diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, etc. all of which are preventable as a result of obesity. These diseases are easily preventable by maintaining a decent diet and exercising regularly. Which can be done by educating people from an early age and via the monkey see monkey do method. My college peers and I need to lead by example in order set the tone (societal norms) for generations to come.

Society places massive pressure, especially on women/girls, to be thin and “sexy” like a Barbie, while in reality Barbie’s are incredibly disproportionate and would be disfigured as a human being. While we shouldn’t be as thin as a stick, we need to place an emphasis on living a healthy lifestyle and being healthy for ourselves not for someone else. This campaign will be directed towards female college students because they are the ideal age group, educated and willing to learn, tech-savvy, and tend to be more conscious of their body image.

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As you walk into the grocery store candy bars and soda pop immediately welcome you, and as you begin shuffling through the aisles you notice TONS of cheap junk food that has bright packaging, which immediately catches your eye. College students in general are quite poor and don’t necessarily have the budget to constantly afford healthy food, or so they think.

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Therefore students will eat sodium saturated top ramen, pop-tarts, Cheetos etc. because they’re “cheap.” While students may not be able to eat gourmet or organic they can definitely eat much better food than they do for the same price. Besides being cheap in price now is not cheap in the long run because you will end up paying for it with your long-term health. Collegiate females are a great target audience for a campaign to get outside and get active. While running on the treadmill for 45 min is a good cardiovascular activity it’s monotonous, so why not have an awesome time outdoors while staying fit. This in effect is the purpose and premise of our campaign. College females are more willing to try new things, especially when the mountains are in our backyard, so why not get our campus trying new things to improve their health.


The demographic and geographic segmentation of our audience is as follows. Female full and part-time students who attend the University of Utah is our main target audience for this campaign. We have further narrowed the target audience by limiting the age group to 18-30 year olds. Due to the need to prevent obesity and our audience’s lazy tendencies and the fact people are building habits they will carry with them for the rest of their adult lives. However, we found no need to segment our audience based upon race, ethnicity, religion, or any similar factor. We decided not to limit our audience due to geographic location since the University of Utah is a commuter upon and our application is also based upon the Salt Lake Valley.

Initially, our campaign will target students at the J. Willard Marriott Library because of its central location and ease of access to our target audience. After the initial exposure our campaign will expand to the rest of campus and throughout the Salt Lake Valley. It is difficult to further refine our target audience psychographically since we are targeting such a varied student population.

For instance, our audience contains students with different upbringings, socioeconomic status’, political views, marital status’, majors, lifestyles, and more. Rather then targeting any one of these variables, we have chosen to target our audience based upon behaviors. Our main focus is behaviorally based, mainly getting people active while reducing the dread of exercising. We are also targeting sedentary leisure time as a replacement behavior, but mainly time in front of a screen, such as Netflix, social media, video games, etc. The reason we have decided to target these behaviors is because it’s easy to lose time on such activities. In turn time wasted on these activities could be spent on having fun and being active.

Secondary and Tertiary audiences include anyone who comes in contact with the campaign. This could include but is not limited to faculty, staff, spouses, campus visitors, friends and family of students attending the university, or other students reached as the campaign expands. Even though our target audience is quite specific the campaign can be applied far beyond our target audience. It is our hope that its purpose and message can help anyone find meaning and enjoyment out of exercise in replacement of sedentary behavior.

Formative Evaluation

My own experience

Moving here as a freshman from New York I didn’t know anyone and the first couple of weeks into the semester was nerve racking and awkward, but I knew I wanted to find friends who would be willing to get outside and go on an adventure. The ideal for this app would be to get all of the sports and outdoor oriented student organizations such as the Outdoor Recreation Program, intramurals, the Quidditch club, the mountaineering club, the pickup basketball league, etc. to post list of these clubs/groups so students can easily access them. The app would provide a master calendar of all of the events for the day, a chat room, and an opportunity for students to meet someone else who shares the same interests. In order to successfully reach students the campaign must effectively use social media and a smart phone application.


In order to get a good feel for the audience’s needs we conducted a simple survey. The survey was conducted by approaching 25 random female students that met the profile of our target audience. While this is not a complete representation of our target population, the results serve to validate our campaign’s purpose. Our first question asked for the person’s school and employment status (full time/part-time, full-time/full-time, full-time/Doesn’t work, part-time/part-time, etc.), which helps us analyze leisure time availability. Of the 25 participants, 13 students considered themselves full-time students and part-time workers. 1 student attended school and worked full-time, 3 respondents considered themselves part-time students and workers.

Additionally, 6 people were full-time students who did not work, and 2 were part-time students and full-time workers. The second section of the survey was composed of two questions. First, we asked respondents how much time they spent exercising per week. The results are as follows. The average amount of time spent exercising each week was 3.88 hours. The highest amount of exercising was 11 hours per week and one responded with a low of zero time spent being active. The mode was split between 2 and 3 hours with 5 respondents each selecting this time.

Of additional interest, those who considered themselves full-time students and part-time employees had the highest average of time spent exercising at 4.69 hours per week. This was surprising as I assumed that fewer free hours would equate with less time exercising. This may reflect a different mindset of the importance of exercise among this group and will be considered as we move forward with our campaign. Second, we asked respondents how much time they spent per week on sedentary leisure activities. The results are as follows. The average time spent on sedentary leisure activities was 5.81 hours weekly. A high of 10 hours was recorded 3 times. The lowest value recorded was 1 hour weekly. By far the most frequent response (the mode) was 5 hours which was recorded 7 times. The amount of time spent between school/work segmentation groups was similar and all averaged around 5 hours. The final aspect of our survey was a short answer question where I asked “Do you feel that you have adequate time within your schedule to be active?” This question was designed to assess a major obstacle in our campaign, the problem of busy schedules. After reflecting upon time wasted on things like Netflix the overwhelming response was yes. It was interesting to note that respondents seemed surprised at just how much time was wasted. As we move forward with our campaign, it is critical to address exactly how much time people do have to be active.

Focus Group Interviews

In this section I will discuss conversations that I had with several friends about their exercise habits and our campaign. Each of my listed friends are students in their twenties at the University of Utah. I wanted to focus on what activities they enjoy, what motivates them to be active, and their thoughts about our campaign. I will briefly highlight each discussion below.

Lilly: Lilly is a full-time student from Salt Lake City and works part-time as a Film Production Assistant. She enjoys kickboxing and attends classes at a kickboxing fitness club a few times a week. Additionally, she enjoys skiing and getting outdoors. When speaking about what motivates her to exercise, she emphasized the importance of being fit and healthy.

However, she felt that between school and work, she rarely had energy get out and be active. She liked that our campaign focused on having fun and relieving stress rather than on mindless running or crunches and thought a different mindset towards exercising would help her make time to get out. Lilly was also very helpful in suggesting ways to advertise the campaign. She even volunteered to help film and edit a commercial for our campaign. We plan on using this video to highlight Salt Lake City and all the different activities that can be done with little travel or expense.

Annie: Annie is also a full-time student at the University of Utah and is preparing for Medical School. She is originally from the Chicago area and moved to Utah for school because she loves the mountains and being outdoors. Annie frequently attends yoga classes and loves hockey. When discussing her exercise habits, she felt she was active enough to be healthy but the heavy pre-med coursework didn’t allow her to get out nearly enough. She said something I thought was very profound within our campaign. She said, “I know if I could find the time to just get out school would go so much smoother.”

This brought up a discussion on the benefits of exercise beyond simply losing weight or looking good. Exercise is stress relieving, and a huge factor in people’s happiness. The grind of day in day out work and homework/work can create a lot of empty days. I felt this was a crucial thing to highlight as we market and advertise our campaign. If we can get our audience to find benefits now in exercise instead of some distant goal like not having a heart attack at 50 we can really make a significant impact with our campaign.

Hannah: Hannah is a full-time student and part-time worker. She is an Environmental Studies Major, which according to her doesn’t have an incredibly heavy course load. She works at Deer Valley as a ski instructor during the winter and baby-sits when it is not ski season. Hannah is super active and loves skiing, hiking, and anything outdoors. Hannah stated that other than her diet on occasions she feels that she lives a healthy lifestyle and is happy with her activity levels. She is a sponsored skier and because of this she receives free ski passes.

This enables her to achieve over 140 ski days per year not including time spent instructing others. Not only does Hannah ski the resorts, but she also does a lot of back-country skiing to prepare for her many ski competitions. Her thoughts on the campaign were mostly positive and she loved the idea of discovering new activities and our apps component of activity discovery and activity maps. She also was very willing to give input on skiing, resort activities, and other back-country activities along the Wasatch Front. She will be a very valuable resource when moving forward in app design.

Ultimately, these peer interviews were invaluable in the design of our app and in refining campaign ideas as we move forward with advertising and marketing students. We specifically need to focus on showing short-term benefits and goals of being active as this campaign moves forward. This will enable us to offer benefits over sedentary activities like Netflix or Pinterest. Additionally, it will be imperative to have access to activities that students want to participate in rather than just bland mundane exercise. To conclude, while much work still has to be done, we feel confident that our campaign will interest students and if done right will be very beneficial to our audience.

Cite this page

Methods for Improving Healthy Diet and Exercise Habits among College Students. (2021, Dec 13). Retrieved from

Methods for Improving Healthy Diet and Exercise Habits among College Students

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