Three tips to get started with student marketing

There are over 750.000 students in the Netherlands, and an estimated 207 MILLION students worldwide. Sounds like a great potential market to sell your product to, right? Right. But today’s students are bombarded with hundreds of commercial messages every day, so marketing your product to them might be harder than you think. We have three quick tips to get you started with student marketing.

1. Focus on new students

Be prepared for the new year! When starting something new people often feel the need to prepare with purchases, and starting college actually requires a lot of preparation. Brand new students will make big purchases from new brands for the first time in their lives around starting college. Students will not only need school related items (think books and laptops), but also apartment/dorm furnishing, common household items and more. Besides that, part of the ‘starting something new’-thing is that college students get the opportunity to entirely reinvent themselves, which means new clothes, shoes, style, etc.

As you can tell: the scale of this shopping season is bigger than you think. In fact, it’s only second to the winter holiday season in terms of total consumer spend. A Deloitte analysis* shows that 71% of spending preparing for the new school year occurs during July and August. For the $970 average (back-)to-college spend, $229 goes toward electronics, $224 to clothing, shoes and accessories, $134 to food, $106 to dorm/apartment furnishing, $81 to personal care items, $70 to school supplies, $69 to gift cards/prepaid cards, and $57 to collegiate gear.

I think it’s clear enough: you need to be focusing just as much on the back to school season as on the holidays. Create a campaign for the start of the year and hook those students with a great back-to-school deal.

2. Meet them where they are

It’s the most basic step in any marketing strategy but remains one of the most important: meet your potential clientele where they are. This tip can be split in two parts: metaphorically and literally.

Metaphorically: Think about what it is like to be a student today and what you can offer them. What are students’ needs? What do their lives look like and how do you fit in? Connect with students by framing your product or service in terms of what students might need or want. Another strong way to position yourself in the lives of students is by clarifying your values. Students are idealistic and constantly exploring their beliefs and identity and they are more likely to buy products that align with those. Don’t be afraid to take a stand on social issues you believe in.

Location: you can literally meet students where they are, by being present in the spaces they occupy! Because of the focus on online sales for young people, we sometimes forget that students actually exist in the real world as well. They go to class, hang out in their peers’ dorms, go out, grocery shop in actual grocery stores, etc. Make yourself seen in students’ spaces that are consistent with your brand identity.

3. Offer a discount

We might be biased, but student discounts are the way to go. You can give brand reputation and loyalty a boost by offering a student discount. Although it’s been suggested that young consumers are more likely to save up for a more expensive product or experience, they still don’t have a lot of money. If you can 1. be an attractive brand and 2. offer your product for a discounted price, you are guaranteed to take top spot in students’ mind. This might seem like a cheap or cliché way to get students to buy your product, but it does work. Research suggests that students are more likely to buy a product from a brand if they offer a student discount. Students also use tools like discount sites, the browser extension Honey or other student discount platforms to check if there are discounts available before they make a purchase. If you don’t offer one, they might look on to the next retailer or brand who does.

There is a ‘but’ to using discounts as a marketing tool. The deal needs to be good, because research has shown that if the discount is not high enough, this might have a negative effect on sales. This effect was found mostly on ‘non-essential‘ items, so if you sell toilet paper any discount is welcome!

I want to close out this article by saying: there is no ‘correct’ way to do student marketing. Every target audience is going to look for different things when making purchase decisions and a lot of research has conflicting results. These three tips are just a way to get started.

Looking for a more concrete way to reach students? Get in touch!

*In the US

Rosa Gregoire

Leave a Reply Text

Your email address will not be published.

%d bloggers like this: