Why you should target students during the cost-of-living crisis

Written by Guy Schindler 03 August 2023
During a time of macroeconomic adversity, the UK’s university student population provides a unique audience to target with product sampling. With stable financial support and reduced personal responsibility, the UK’s 2.8 million student population hold a favourable position in which to weather the current economic climate with limited impact on consumer habits.
A unique opportunity in a cost-of-living crisis…

Kantar Media’s GB TGI figures from May 2023 indicate that students are 3.5 times more likely to still live at home with their parents, twice as likely to be single, and twice as likely to have no children than the average UK consumer. Meanwhile, there is a significant over-indexing in ABC1 socioeconomic classification, with 71% of students residing within this category compared to 62% of the UK’s adult population. This paints the picture of a large audience with limited personal and financial responsibility, but the economic security to maintain their disposable income and spending power while the wider population is more limited by the rising cost of living.

As students have the means to spend, do they have the drive? Short answer – yes. 81% of students are likely to treat themselves to non-essential items (up by 2.4% since May 2021), making them 21% more likely than the average UK consumer.

Students respond well to sampling…

So, how best can brands ensure that their products are those treat items? Students are more susceptible to advertising with 38% tempted to buy products they have seen advertised, compared to 27% of UK consumers. However, what makes more of an impact than awareness is experience. 72% of students are more likely to buy a product if they can feel and touch it first (up by 4.5% since May 2022) compared to 65% of average UK consumers, while the importance of past experience as a conscious purchasing factor is up by almost 5% from 12 months ago. Therefore, product sampling provides a crucial opportunity to capitalise on these trends and allow brands to provide an ever more significant positive product experience.

Students have a wide sphere of influence…

Brands who choose to utilise this channel can also expect to achieve a greater impact out of their sampling campaigns due to the influential nature of the audience, allowing the reach to be carried well beyond the sampled volume. For starters, with halls of residence and private student housing, the average student household size is 3.9, compared to the national average of 3, enhancing the scope of campaign awareness. Beyond this, students are 70% more likely to have others come to them for advice about what products to buy. This shows the potential that students hold and the importance of winning them over to spread positive brand messaging to wider circles. Once on side, students display greater brand loyalty, with 73% sticking to brands they like, compared to 67% of UK consumers.

How can I reach students with my product?

Through Relish’s student opportunities, brands are given the ability to provide audiences with experiences that could generate brand loyalty that can carry forwards as the students of today become the young professionals of tomorrow. Relish allows you to avoid the noise and low engagement rates of fresher’s fairs by giving your products direct and exclusive access to student dorms with any necessary audience segmentation. Your product would have pride of place, along with the time and space to make a lasting impression on students as they enter a new phase of their lives. Plus, together with our consumer insight offering, we can make your campaign work harder by collecting important feedback and tracking performance.

Students have the means to maintain their spending power, the drive to use it, and with the help of Relish’s sampling opportunities, the potential to be lifelong customers of your brand.

Source: GB TGI-2023 May (April 2022 – March 2023)-© Kantar Media

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