08 Mar Unlocking the True Value of the Student Audience
The simple answer – it is suggested the market spending power is around £30Bn per year and set to grow to £37Bn by 2020, according to Experian.
Although the size and financial value of the student audience is huge, with around 5 million students in the UK across Higher and Further education, it is important that we look beyond the numbers to provide insight into how brands can yield more than direct financial value by targeting this audience. To do this, we’ll focus on the following two ideas;
- Students have significant long-term value to offer, and by building a positive impression now, brands can unlock a larger portion of future spend; and
- Students offer a tech enabled and engaged audience, which provides organisations with opportunities to encourage candid feedback and access broader networks through brand advocacy.
More detailed information about the breakdown of the student audience can be found within the Insight Generation ‘Understanding UK Freshers’ infographic here.
Unlocking long-term value
Understanding Customer Life-time Value, according to Entrepreneur.com, is important because it will give you an idea of how much repeat business you can expect from a particular customer, which in turn will help you decide how much you’re willing to spend to “buy” [invest in] that customer for your business.”
In order to analyse the opportunities for building customer-life time value with the student audience, it is important to understand nature of student spending. According to research from the NSPCC, students prioritise spending on social activity and are value seekers. With this in mind, brands can make investment decision on creating campaigns and incentives to convince students to buy now, with an aim to build life-time value.
Brands that understand the main drivers of student spending and build product and service offering around this – while maintaining their genuine brand voice – are the ones who are able to really unlock long term value. Some sectors which demonstrate good examples in this area are;
Banks: Offering interest free overdrafts;
Retailers: Offering an enhanced student discount;
Cinemas: Offering discounts on tickets; and
Nightclubs: Offering free entry and student promotions throughout the week.
Be careful though, don’t be caught out here by trying too hard to talk to students in a way that alters your brand voice. There are countless examples of brands that thought that the way to communicate with students was to alter their messaging, often going slightly (and in some cases completely) off-brand to appear ‘cool’ (see ‘14 times brands tried way too hard to be cool’ for a few examples). This is likely to not only be unsuccessful, but also comes across as cliché and forced, potentially damaging the brand.
An Engaged Audience
Today’s student audience is one that is inherently digitally enabled. This allows students’ engagements with brands online to be instant, unfiltered and personal. It’s important that brands recognise this and take advantage of the opportunities it creates. These include;
- Brand ambassadors; whether directly employed by a brand (see Red Bull Wings Team as a great example) or indirectly advocating a brand (see the Dove ‘Real Beauty Should be Shared’ campaign), students have social networks that can be of huge value to brands. These includes peers, but also friends and family members, which extends the value of engaging with students by indirectly achieving engagement with non-student audiences, too.
- Candid feedback; social media is not always the most comfortable medium for receiving feedback, particularly for brand managers. It is often, however, where customers – particularly digitally savvy ones – will share what they really think about a brand. Companies can take advantage of the candid and instant nature of social media communications by seeking out feedback, not just being the ‘victim’ of unsolicited criticism. Also, marketing teams who bury their heads in the sand, pretending that all negative social media feedback is simply ‘trolling’ are irresponsible – it’s counter productive. Having an effective social listening strategy will allow you to turn feedback into genuine insight to inform decision-making.
We hope this post has shed some light on the scale and type of opportunities presented by the student audience. We also hope it’s helped you to think about how you can unlock immediate and long term value by approaching this audience in the right way. So what should you consider to help prompt further thinking and guide you in deciding future strategic focuses and designing campaigns?
Questions to consider?
- What level of acquisition cost are you willing to commit to help achieve higher lifetime value with student customers?
- What would you want an ambassador for your brand to say to other people about your products and services? How can you design campaigns that give your customers the platform and motivation to do this? Be sure to check out our Ebook co-created with Freshers Festival here.
- How will you ensure that you’re using social media to listen to customers to gain real insight?
If you’d like to get in touch directly to talk about how we can support you, email firstname.lastname@example.org.