Article

Richard Jenkings
Richard Jenkings 5 December 2017

Student spend – a £22 billion marketing opportunity

Hot on most marketers’ lips at the moment are millennials. Within that group falls a sizeable audience that is often overlooked due to misconceptions about their spending power, but it’s time brands look again. Millennials are a consumer force to be reckoned with.

Hot on most marketers’ lips at the moment are millennials.  Within that group falls a sizeable audience that is often overlooked due to misconceptions about their spending power, but it’s time brands look again.  Millennials are a consumer force to be reckoned with.

Recent research from Experian found that student spend in university towns has the potential to increase by an average of nearly 20% this academic year.  UK towns and cities could see a £22 billion boost from student spend if they set out to cater for the needs of this target market.  Marketers need to be primed and ready in the right areas to do it successfully. Unlike the generations that have come before them, students’ brand loyalty is low and their minds are open to change.

While students may enjoy ‘cool’ brands, they’re also interested in those who provide useful information and equip them with the knowledge they need to make the best decisions for them.

Spending potential

Students offer something new to marketers. When they make the move to university, many become truly independent consumers for the first time. Brands that engage with them in the right way give themselves the opportunity to build new relationships with the potential to extend into the long-term.

Students’ youth means they present the longest lifetime value of any consumer group. When they first begin that journey, their spending power is significant – a factor which continues as time passes. Banking is one industry that has tapped into this potential well and other organisations could learn from them.  They actively target students to open new accounts when they start university, knowing they have a potential life-time value.

Location, location, location

So where can marketers find this audience?  Many of the areas set to see the biggest percentage boost from the ‘Student £’ are smaller towns and cities including Huddersfield, Stafford and Sunderland.  For some of these locations, the injection of significant spend by more affluent students and their families is a welcome boost for the local economy.  Retailers and brands in these areas stand to benefit from shaping their offerings and marketing to the student population.  Sheffield is the city most likely to benefit from the ’Student £’, with the annual influx of students bringing a potential 45% increase in spend. 

The challenge for marketers is targeting the right audience at the right time, in the right place, and on the right device.  Knowing how best to reach the students and their families is a significant benefit to the marketing professional.

Personalisation over transactions

While the ultimate goal is influencing purchase, it’s important to think beyond the transaction and look at the individual. Students, like any other consumers, are not users but people. The focus for marketers need to be on establishing, developing and nurturing a relationship founded on who these individuals are, and what they value.

In marketing terms, this translates to personalisation. Students offer marketers a unique proposition in their general consent to share information about themselves. This generation are generally more willing for their data to be collected on their favoured devices, content format and browsing preferences, but in return they expect this to be acted upon.

The information is there for marketers, and it falls to them to serve them a personalised and relevant experience in return. Once that is cracked, students will be more inclined to pledge loyalty to that brand/product – a loyalty which has the potential to remain for years to come.

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