3 top tips for marketing to students

Uncategorized By Josanne Griffin-Mason, 30th September 2014

Students spend an estimated £13 billion1 a year in the UK.

Capturing this astute and influential audience can often prove difficult so we’ve put together three of the most important tips for marketers who hope to tap in to this lucrative market.

Tip 1: UCAS Media Limited is the place for student data.

In the UK, all students must apply for their university place through UCAS, the University and Colleges Admissions Service. As an advertiser, you can buy student data directly from UCAS.

The data available is extensive, and covers the contact details of undergraduates and their parents or advisers, as well as information on their personal histories and interests.

Red Bull and STA Travel set some great examples of how to take full advantage of this resource.

Red Bull spread early awareness of their new drinks flavours by sending 17, 5002 sample cans to a group of 18 year old early adopters. This resulted in an organic social media buzz around the new products and 12, 000 mentions of the brand on Twitter.

STA Travel targeted students who weren’t going to university. They set up stands at UCAS conventions, sent out an email campaign in January to those who had deferred and posted leaflets between February and June to encourage final decisions.

Tip 2: Price is important to 83%3 of students, but don’t skimp on quality.

You can incentivise your audience by offering a student discount directly, or by joining a recognised body like the National Union of Students (NUS), which has a reach of over seven million4 students and apprentices across the UK.

Students pay £12 for a NUS card, which then entitles them to discounts when shopping with a range of brands, from The Co-operative Food to Amazon. As it stands, national and international brands can currently partner with NUS, whilst local businesses can enjoy paid-for opportunities through NUS Media.

Discounts are well and good but do be careful when focusing on price points within student marketing campaigns. Research into the demographic indicates that, whilst 83% are concerned about affordability, 73% demand quality and are willing to pay a premium for it.

Tip 3: It’s no use being able to target students if you don’t know how to engage them.

Students spend 52% of their time studying, 5% engaging in extra curricular activities (e.g. clubs, societies, sports and volunteering), 5% working part-time and 29% socialising. And that stereotype of partying every night? Most students only go out twice a week.

Avoid overt marketing practices, particularly in the form of unsolicited text messages. Students view their phone as something very personal and believe that only their friends should have their number.

Instead, focus on becoming a part of their surroundings, something that pop-up events can execute wonderfully.

This summer, Kopparberg created an Urban Forest in Hackney, and the crowds flocked in for live music, street food, and of course, a bar stocking only Kopparberg. The company boosted its sales and Instagram hype as attendees uploaded snaps of the distinctive tree house/bar onto the picture-sharing network.

If like Kopparberg, you can create something visual and ‘Instagrammable’, you’ll positively enhance your brand identity. Students care about projecting the right image, and as Instagram is now regarded to be one of the world’s coolest apps, an organic appearance is a genuine affirmation of credibility for a brand. After all, students trust their peers over a try-hard marketing team.

1 The Guardian, 2014. Ucas sells access to student data for phone and drinks firms’ marketing. [Online] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/mar/12/ucas-sells-marketing-access-student-data-advertisers.
2 UCAS Media, 2014. Media agency campaigns. [Online] Available at: http://www.ucasmedia.com/case-studies/media-agency-campaigns.
3 Marketing Magazine, 2014. [Online] Available at: http://www.marketingmagazine.co.uk/article/1192239/truth-students—five-tips-help-market-brand-students.
4 NUS, 2014. NUS extra partnerships. [Online] Available at: http://www.nus.org.uk/en/commercial-services/nus-extra-partnerships/.

All information sources accessed on the 29th of September 2014.