Every year, there’s an intake of 600,000+ new students at universities in the UK, all ready and excited to embark on one of the most formative phases of their lives. Over the three years (minimum) that they spend at university, they shape their social and financial independence, forming habits that last to graduation and beyond.
For brands, the student market offers two big advantages. First of all, they’re extremely receptive to trying new things. Secondly, there’s an endless cycle of next-generation consumers arriving annually and staying in a contained - and easily targeted - culture for three years.
Taking our 10+ years of expertise of leading year round student strategies for global brands such as Spotify, Prime Student and Asos, we’ve outlined our key recommendations for brands to engage with students during Freshers and beyond.
Match their mindset
It’s rarely effective to market to students with only your brand objectives in mind - you need to build plans that are audience first, always.
Freshers is one of the most exciting times of the student calendar, but also a time of immense personal change. They’re trying to find their own identity and are no longer tied to family habits - it’s their time to shine. So consider how you can welcome, celebrate and support them during this time.
At Seed, we don’t just work for the attention of an audience, we work with them. More than 50% of the Seed team is under 25 years old and we have an extensive (10,000+) network of Gen Z-ers to tap into so whether it’s first-hand research, stress-testing concepts or activating in partnership with them, we invite the audience, and the creators who inspire them, to become part of every idea.
Becoming The Centre of Attention at Freshers Fairs
Students flock to their campus Freshers’ Fairs, looking to learn more about their new environment and discover deals that are exclusive to them.
Freshers’ Fairs provide the biggest arena for brands to target up to 10,000 students IRL at one time, with no audience wastage. Understandably, this therefore means that you’ll be surrounded by multiple brands making the most of the opportunity, so it’s essential to stand out from the crowd, generate buzz and be memorable after the fact - think desirable giveaways, personalisation and premium experiences.
The Opportunity Beyond Freshers Week
t’s not over until graduation! As Freshers’ Fairs come to a close, the opportunity to target students on campus doesn’t end. Campus culture creates a targeting utopia. By going directly where the audience is, you can maximise reach with minimised waste.
Activating after Freshers’ weeks allows brands to become the main event on campus. This may not have the condensed footfall seen at the fair, but you’ll be able to target everyone from first to final year students as they launch into a new term, hungry for fresh experiences.
YouTube Premium - Taste of Premium post-Freshers tour that drive up to 1,200 sign ups per day
Find Your Dream Team and Let Them Own It
Peer-to-peer recommendations remain one of, if not the most powerful tool for ongoing targeting with students. With fierce competition from brands fighting for attention, it can be the difference between a one-off purchase and deep-rooted allegiance. By tapping into this power of community, brands can drive exponential reach and engagement through each individual’s own networks and connections.
In an ideal world, every brand communication would be adapted to every individual to offer maximum impact. The next best thing, student ambassadors will take ownership of your brand, tailoring the brand activity and communications to make it hyper-relevant to students at their university.
This ownership, therefore, means it’s essential that brands are super clear and confident about the ideal ambassador for them - mobilising true brand fans who will go above and beyond, rather than someone with a lot of followers looking for a paycheque.
Jack Daniel’s - SBAs showing their university what it means to #MakeItCount
Micro Networks Lead to Macro Influence
The smaller an audience, the closer the relationship between creator and follower - making micro-influencers 10% more likely to influence decision making than Macro influencers.
Student micro-influencers are so powerful because they have increased relevance to other students through lifestyle, life experience and location (especially as they adjust to the new academic year during Freshers). This gives a far higher level of trust, creating just the right balance of aspiration and achievability.
Prime Video - The Wilds launch saw relatable micro-influencer content that drove engagement rates of 11% and positive brand sentiment across 5 EU markets.
Invest and Do It Right to Make an Impact
Make an impact on students and you can win customers for future decades, presenting huge lifetime value per customer. First impressions are essential to win them over followed by a continual program adjusted to the distinctive term mindsets - so invest in the right approach that sparks fame within this audience for your brand.
The strategies discussed have seen systematic success for our clients. With a huge new intake every year and students going through such a formative time, building long term brand advocates and customers requires an always on approach throughout the year. Seed has the knowledge and expertise to design the formula to meet your business objectives with this demographic.
Get in touch if you would like to discuss how we can support your brand at Freshers and with a year round student strategy.
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