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Student Marketing – Targeting the Student Market

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The size of the student market has grown rapidly in the UK over recent years, with 1.8 million students now in Higher Education Programmes.

Although students do have a restricted budget many are living away from home and are therefore making independent choices over which brands to buy for the very first time. Attracting students at this time has huge long run brand loyalty effects.

With a combined spending power of more than £10 billion and an average student spending over £5,000 each year the student market can be a highly lucrative one. Students are certainly the most profitable group of 18-24 year olds.

Here are some statistics from Campus Group, a company which focuses on student and youth marketing:

Student Lifestyle Statistics:

  • 92% visit the cinema each month
  • 46% go out clubbing each week
  • 79% go to gigs each month
  • 43% have a part time job
  • 71% go traveling at least once a year

Annual Spend by Students:

  • £483 on clothes
  • £874 on out-of-home entertainment
  • £820 on food
  • £1,300 on rent
  • £524 on travel

University students make an ideal target market for internet-based companies. Over 99% of students are comfortable using the internet, going online at least once a week, although usually every day.

They also don’t have the same fear of the internet as much of the general population, particularly when it comes to purchasing goods online – average online spend is 7 times higher than that of the general population.

Finally, whilst the working population uses the internet predominantly for work purposes, two-thirds of the time that students spend online is general surfing.

When it comes to targeting students they have in the past been considered an elusive group, with much of their time taken up on campus and through socialising. Traditional forms of advertising, such as mainstream radio, TV and billboard advertising campaigns, are not ideal channels for reaching today’s students.

However, there are in fact a number of ways in which the student market can be reached:

The Student Union – many official student unions offer advertising options around the university, with one option being to sponsor a university team or tournament. Simply putting forward £100 as a prize fund for a tournament can be an effective way of reaching a highly selective group of students.

Student Newspapers – most universities have their own student newspaper run by students, and there are also student newspapers run by external firms. Unlike mainstream print media advertising tends to be priced very competitively.

Student Radio Stations – sponsorship and advertising opportunities do exist but always research the student radio station that you’re thinking of advertising on – quality and the number of listeners does vary greatly depending on the university.

Flyers – this form of promotion is often used by pizza delivery companies. It’s inexpensive and depending on the product or service can be very effective.

Online Advertising – with students spending so much time online the internet is a marketing channel not to be ignored. Many university clubs and societies have websites that are receptive to sponsorship opportunities, you can advertise on Facebook at a highly competitive rates (approximately £0.50 per thousand impressions), or even sponsor popular student forums, such as The Student Room.

Email Marketing – there are companies that have extensive opt-in email lists for students. However, research the company providing the list to ensure that they are opt-in lists – the last thing you want is to be accused of spamming.

Direct Mail – some companies have lists of student addresses that you can rent or purchase, or you could even approach local estate agents and ask to be given access to their list of student houses, in return offering a fee or cross-promotion.

Outdoor Advertising – at most universities, particularly those that are campus rather than town-based, there are opportunities available to advertise on local buses or advertise on outdoor posters at bus stops. The downside is that this form of advertising does tend to be considerably more expensive than most other forms of marketing.

Referral Programmes – students have wide social networks and limited budgets, meaning that they are always receptive to a generous offer. Setting up a lucrative referral programme, particularly when done online, can generate excellent results.

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