How to Market to Students

How to Market to Students

Read Time: 5 Minutes


06 Sep 2018

Right in time for freshers' week, we’re giving you the full rundown of exactly how you can market your brand to students, including: what they’re into, where they shop and how you can make the most of how they socialise.

If you do choose students as a target market profile, it’s important to note that research generally goes against stereotypes we have of them – you know the ones; they’ve gone to university to socialise and have a good time, they go out drinking and live on cans of beans. In fact, Creative Orchestra teamed up with the National Union of Students (NUS) to create ‘The Truth About Students:, to reveal that less than 60% of students are under 21 and of the 40% studying part-time, half of those are aged 30-50!

Keeping this research in mind, we’ll be exploring the best ways of advertising to students at universities across the UK.


What Do Students Believe?

On the whole, students have strong ethics and values. They place importance on both social and environmental responsibility and shop around accordingly. As stated in ‘The Truth About Students’, a whopping 97% of students say that ethics are important. This is reinforced by The Guardian’s report that the number of vegans in the UK has risen by 350% in the past decade – something that’s been driven by the young, with 67% of vegans being under 34!

This is great news if your brand suits these views – maybe your products are recyclable, you set a certain amount of profit aside for charities, you’re against animal cruelty, or maybe your packages/ingredients are sustainable. However, beware of advertising anything that’s not 100% true; students can see through your marketing and do background research into your company – and they’re also the group most likely to boycott unethical brands!


How Do Students Spend Their Time?

‘The Truth About Students’ also reveals how students spend their time – 52% of their time is spent studying, whereas 29% is spent socialising. It’s important to note that with the ever-increasing course fees and university costs, the amount of time spent studying is likely to increase. It’s also noted that students spend 3-4 hours a day online. Although the obvious solution to marketing your brand to students may be through digital advertising, direct mail actually comes out on top.

With so much time spent online, it’s easy for students to become desensitised or immune to digital marketing. To stand out, sending something personal and physical has been proven to be really effective. In fact, 92% of millennials say they are influenced by direct mail to make a purchase decision. So, why not add some print into your marketing strategy? Flyer drops are a cost-effective way of reaching lots of people all at once – and it’s easy to target those living in student accommodation. Or, use postcards as a direct mailer for something a little different – the better the design, the more likely consumers are to keep them!


Where Do Students Shop?

Although print is the most effective form of marketing to students, online rules when it comes to shopping. With 95.1% of students using Amazon and eBay to make purchases and 76.1% making purchases through the retailer’s official website, having an online presence is essential for staying ahead.

As well as creating your own Amazon seller account or eBay Shop, it’s also a good idea to take a look at your business’ website on ways you could improve it. One way of doing this would be to look at design trends for this year and figure out how you can create something modern but also on brand and inline with your own guidelines.


How Can I Advertise to Students?

So, if digital marketing alone is a no-go for student marketing, what are the best ways of marketing to students? Along with the previously discussed direct mail ideas, word-of-mouth continues to be number 1 with 71% of students listing word of mouth as the key way of finding out about new trends according to ‘The Truth About Students’. People trust other people, so if they hear a good review of your business from one of their friends or family members it makes sense that they’ll also check it out. The best tactic for improving word-of-mouth advertising amongst students is making sure they have an exceptional experience – that’s everything from the quality of your products, how memorable and exciting your USP is to a student market to a fantastic customer experience.

Big media, like posters and transport advertising, are still big news. Especially if they’re well-placed, i.e. posted in places where there are LOTS of students. Students unions and bars and cafes that are on campus or local to the university are a great place to leave advertising materials like posters and folded leaflets – just make sure you get permission first! The reason transport advertising is really important is because many universities are in city centres, where the most popular way to travel is on buses, trams, trains and underground systems (depending on the city). Spreading the word about your business with public transport can, therefore, hugely increase awareness of your brand.

One stereotype that Creative Orchestra’s data does support is that students love to get a good deal. On average, students use 2.6 loyalty cards, with 86% saying that loyalty cards make them more likely to use a product or service. Although a student wouldn’t necessarily choose to buy with a brand that uses loyalty cards, they can help increase loyalty in the brands they’re already purchasing from – so why not take advantage of this and offer your own loyalty scheme for your student customers?


Although digital marketing can feel less effective, keeping your organic channels like your website and other selling streams up to date is crucial as students will often take a peek at your ‘online shop window’ before making a purchase. The key to acquiring students? Print marketing like leaflets, flyers and posters are seen to be a more trustworthy and attention-grabbing way of spreading awareness of your business. And if you’re looking for a way to truly standout to a young student audience, have an ethical standpoint that sets you apart from your competitors. Got any more tips on flourishing with a student target market? Let us know on social media by tagging us @instantprinkuk or #instantprintuk!


About the Author

Hi, I’m Ally and I’m instantprint’s PR Lead. I enjoy writing content to help small businesses succeed and inspire them to get creative with their print marketing.