— Steve Pipe – Sr. Manager, Internal Communications, brings you this installment of The Digital Den

From class projects and term papers, to Facebook updates and iTunes downloads, college students store and share a ton of digital content. They use flash drives, external hard drives or cloud-based services without thinking twice about the storage medium—many routinely use all three technologies, depending on what they’re storing and how they want to manage it.

Seagate wants to get college students thinking a little more about, well, the Seagate brand. The company also wants to know what drives their storage choices and buying decisions.

With help from Silicon Valley PR agency Eastwick, Seagate recently conducted storage focus-group sessions at San Jose State University and Santa Clara University. The 90-minute sessions at each university consisted of 12 students from engineering, marketing or communications backgrounds.

“The idea behind the focus groups was to get a better understanding of students’ storage preferences and needs,” said Brian Ziel, senior director of Corporate Communications at Seagate.  “What influences their purchasing decisions? What features would their ideal storage product have? What type of product would get them to store their content more frequently?”

Asking such questions can help marketing and engineering teams develop products that more closely align with users’ needs, added Scott Horn, VP of Global Marketing at Seagate.

“Great products come from a dialogue with customers, listening to their feedback and incorporating as much of that as you can into your design and marketing activities,” Horn said. “We want to build the kind of products people want to have in their homes, and get them talking about our brand with their friends and family members.”

At both Bay Area focus-group sessions, a business professor guided students through a series of questions that addressed broad technology trends and buying habits, covering tablets, smartphones and laptops, for example, before zeroing in on storage needs. Students were asked how much music they stored on their devices, how regularly they backup their data, what kinds of content they store, what storage media they use, as well as their familiarity with the different storage brands.

Students weren’t told which company was conducting the focus group until the end of each session. Each student-participant was entered into a drawing for a chance to win an iPad and a Seagate GoFlex Satellite™ wireless-storage device.

While many students said they liked the ease and convenience of cloud-storage services like Dropbox, others said they had security concerns about the cloud. Some, such as San Jose State marketing student Tiffany Quan, were very familiar with Seagate and its products.

“I like how the drive looks and the fact that it’s very portable,” said Quan of the GoFlex™ Ultra-portable drive she uses for backup and transporting files between her dorm room and classes. “I also like how I can switch out the adapter as my needs change. I’m thinking about getting a Mac because it’s got the fast Thunderbolt interface. With my GoFlex drive, I’m not limited to a certain port.”

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