How to engage a student audience

We look at the key trends that emerged from the Youth Marketing Festival hosted at The Truman Brewery in London.

What brands need to know about students

Firstly, brands must not have a one size fits all strategy when it comes to youth marketing. Students are savvy, with high expectations of brands. They like one to one, personal engagement, and if brands market correctly to them they can quickly become lifelong brand evangelists.

Despite the stereotype that students spend all day in bed and all night in the bar, they are ambitious, hard-working and focused. Brands need to create campaigns that reflect these attributes.

Is your campaign a banger?

A banger = a student term for something unbelievably awesome.

Does your campaign engage students in the right way? Is it an original experience or piece of content that students will organically share with friends online?

Supporting women at university

Students have campaigned for decades about gender inequality. One issue is the ‘tampon tax’ and many women groups want to abolish the tax on female hygiene products. Superdrug responded by rewarding customers who bought its own brand tampons and sanitary towels with loyalty card points equivalent to the VAT. The small action demonstrated that the store valued its female customers.

Challenging social norms

For many students going to university means having the freedom to discover their own identity. They hate class stereotypes and form new groups around specific interests.

Student Culture

Students want content and campaigns that are relatable, so brands must embed themselves in their culture. They should aim for organic brand content generated by students, which is often more valuable than paid for content.

What do students want from brand campaigns?

Students want campaigns to be authentic and ‘always on’. Brands can no longer simply distribute leaflets on a campus and expect students to be entertained. They want memorable and engaging experiences, which are specific to their needs and values. Brands must also demonstrate they are good value for money, as students face rising tuition fees and living costs.

Co-op #StudentFeed

Co-op launched an experiential campaign to demonstrate its great benefits to students, in partnership with the National Union of Students. This involved a social media campaign encouraging students to share ‘shelfies’ of their bare cupboards and fridges, for the chance to win Co-op vouchers.

The brand then also toured universities with an interactive grabber machine. Students played for the chance to ‘grab’ a recipe starter kit, which included key ingredients and a recipe card to keep their dinner fun and fresh. They were then encouraged to share their culinary creations via social media, for the chance to win a personalised chef experience in the comfort of their own home.

The future

Students will continue to lead the move away from traditional channels, so brands should continue to invest in creating experiences and utilising new technology.

Brands that continue to successfully engage with this audience post-university are also more likely to build relationships and create loyal customers for life.

Madison Byrne

 iD Marketing