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Festival Blog Student and Millennial Marketing Strategies

How to Advertise to Students in 2020: The Complete Student Marketing Guide

Note from the author: If you are looking for student marketing help, whether that’s reaching 20,000+ students through email marketing, social media marketing, or event solutions, please contact us. If you are interested in being part of the UK’s largest Virtual Freshers Festival, then you can find out more information here. 

There is a lot of uncertainty at the moment on how organisations, recruiters and brands can engage with students and create effective marketing campaigns with strong ROI.

In this guide, we aim to outline the best ways to market your brand to students in 2020. It is a ‘living’ guide so we will be updating it as we get feedback from Universities, from marketers and receive updates on COVID-19 related public policy.

Having worked with UK students for 15+ years, Freshers Festival prides itself in being a hub for student marketing and outreach. We have a deep understanding of the student market, and how brands can connect and engage with them. This guide takes into account the current coronavirus pandemic, considers how marketing has been impacted over the last few months, and how your brand can keep engaged with a student audience caused by social distancing issues.


Student Marketing – A Quick Summary:

  • Students are a highly diverse group (the majority are older than 19). Marketers need to think carefully about messaging and possibly market segmentation.
  • They are value seekers and money conscious. Organisations must offer value for money where possible. Students offer companies a massive potential customer life-time value if they are perceived as useful or supportive during the student years.
  • Social Spending is a priority. Students are willing to spend money but want to recap the benefits socially. How can brands differentiate themselves by tapping into the desire for social activity? How can this be achieved with current restrictions on large groups and gatherings?
  • First year student numbers are growing year on year. The freshers student market has a population of over 500,000 in Higher Education alone.
  • Student spending is set to increase. Student spending isn’t slowing down, combining the above can help brands unlock a huge potential market, with a predicted worth of £30Bn!


Virtual Events:

Before discussing the more ‘traditional’ student marketing methods, it is only right that we discuss how student marketing has been impacted by the tragic Covid-19 pandemic.

With social distancing, many of the best methods of marketing to students (such as face-to-face marketing) are currently unavailable. Furthermore, digital marketing budgets have been cut, and some forms of influencer marketing are much more difficult than they were before.

However, one thing that has grown significantly in recent weeks is the push toward virtual events. Hosted on online platforms, these events have the potential to reach a much wider audience. The events can be paid-for or free, and are usually hosted on an online event platform. Don’t know where to start? Here are some of the best platforms to host your virtual event. There are two main types of virtual event:

  • Webinars
  • Virtual conferences & tradeshows

Webinars are shorter online video conferences, allowing you to present either live or pre-recorded video. They can allow for Q&A sessions, and are generally best for educational purposes. Many students have already experienced ‘webinar’ type functions if they have had online lectures which makes this channel known. A webinar is not too different from a Zoom call, as it allows for live interaction between an expert and the attendees.

But how can you market to students in a webinar? Webinars are highly conducive to learning or employment content. If you are looking to hire student employees, or bring in student ambassadors, then webinars are a great way to do this. Simply run a free webinar, and use it to teach students about the benefits of your brand. The good thing about free webinars is that they are fairly cheap to run, and even cheaper to market. You will get many sign-ups for a free webinar, and conversion rates from sign-ups to attendees is still strong given the vast increase of options (2018 benchmakrs suggest these are around 45%), which is an excellent return for a free ‘event’.

Virtual conferences, on the other hand, are much more advanced than webinars, and are very similar to a real physical event. Much like in-person events, virtual conferences include keynote speakers, live Q&A sessions, pre-recorded content, networking opportunities, promotional content, giveaways/competitions, and much more. Virtual conferences have an agenda/timetable, and attendees can watch exactly what is relevant to them, just like in a physical event.

Virtual conferences have limitless marketing potential for students.

Through creating relevant content, you can promote any sort of brand to an interested student audience. For example, if you are a sustainable food / drink brand, you can deliver a talk about sustainability in the food industry to students with a passion for the environment. Within this talk, you can promote your own brand, and the engaged audience will be much more likely to visit your website and order your products as a result.

Giveaways are another fantastic way to engage with attendees at a virtual conference. Many virtual conference platforms offer engaging ways to deliver giveaways, such as anyone who watches a short promotional video can be entered into the giveaway. This will allow you to get your message across, whilst still creating a positive brand experience for your customers. Overall, there are countless ways to market your brand in a virtual conference, and they provide a method of truly engaging with an audience that is otherwise almost impossible during this period of social distancing.


Virtual Freshers:

Speaking of virtual conferences aimed specifically at students, Virtual Freshers Festival 2020 is the biggest you will see in the UK.

We will be providing brands a platform to engage with students in a variety of creative ways, helping to deliver everything from brand awareness, to greater brand experience and engagement.

Each brand receives a “channel” within the Virtual Freshers Festival and from within that channel they can showcase every element of their business which is relevant to our audience. So for a food brand, for example, it’s not just about the food itself (although that can be a big part) but about the job opportunities they offer, the sustainability programmes they are running, talks on their corporate diversity, interactive cooking sessions – giving a much deeper insight into the brand and what it stands for.

With tens of thousands of students in attendance, it is the perfect way to showcase your brand to the UK’s student audience in the run up to freshers and during the Virtual Freshers Festival with the content being archived and used through our channels giving on-going ROI throughout the academic year. 

If you want to find out more, please check out our information page here.


Influencer Marketing:

One form of marketing that has seen rapid growth over the past 5 years, of course, is influencer marketing.

Influencer marketing simply involves using a person of ‘influence’, usually someone with a large following on social media, to promote your product for you. This works so well as influencers have an extremely loyal following, and their audience will be much more likely to listen to them about a brand promotion, rather than listen to the brand itself. As a result, influencer marketing often achieves significant return on investment, with firms earning an average earned media value of $5.20 for every $1 spent on influencers.  

Influencer marketing can also be fairly cheap. Depending on the industry you are in, influencers with less than 10,000 followers (micro-influencers) will promote your brand for free or at low cost in exchange for free product.

Even influencers with up to 100,000 followers can often be extremely cost effective to collaborate with. However, don’t be afraid to invest in a larger influencer. Smaller influencers can often have a ‘fake’ following based on follows from other influencers (who follow for engagement purposes), or fake accounts. For large influencers, this is much less likely to be the case, and this is something which you should always bear in mind.

Like any form of marketing spend be sure to carry out due diligence on the platform and influencer you are interested in working with.

Finding influencers is often the trickiest part. Of course there are influencer agencies who can do this for you, but these are often expensive. The best way to do this is to simply search on Instagram, Tik Tok, and YouTube for influencers who make content within your niche. For example, if you are a London-based food brand, simply searching “London food” on Instagram will bring you hundreds of results of London food micro-influencers that you could contact.

But how do you get influencer marketing right?

Firstly, make sure the influencer is RELEVANT for your industry. This is the most important thing. If you are a fashion brand, do not try to contact a food influencer to promote your product, it simply won’t work. You need to be as specific as possible. For example, if you are a clothing brand targeting female students, don’t just ask about their followers but make sure that those engaing with their content are the demographic you are seeking to reach. It sounds obvious but many don’t dig deeply into the audiences an influencer actually engages with. Don’t be afraid to ask influencers for a screenshot of their audience insights / demographics in order to ensure you are targeting the right audience.

Secondly, make sure the influencer has a genuine following. Use a website such as Social Blade to check out their statistics over time. If they saw an extremely rapid rise over a short period, and then no growth since, there is the potential that they have bought followers. Similarly, look at the comments on the influencer’s content. If they have 10,000 followers, but only 1-2 comments on their content, then this is likely to be fake/bought followers. When working with influencers, you need to make sure the engagement is as high as possible (at least 5%) so that you will see some traction with your brand.

Lastly, you need some sort of call-to-action that the influencer should encourage. A particularly useful technique is running a giveaway with the influencer, where the audience has to ‘tag a friend’ in the post AND follow your brand’s social media account in order to enter. This ensures your social media following will grow, the post will reach as many people as possible, and your brand experience/image will automatically improve due to the giveaway. Like any marketing campaign, a strong call-to-action is critical.

Overall, influencers are one of the best ways to promote your brand to students in the current climate, and should form an intrinsic part of your marketing strategy moving forward.


Sponsorship Marketing:

Sponsoring university teams, competitions, and prizes has become somewhat of a forgotten marketing tactic in recent years. Indeed, for smaller brands, the lack of direct sales that can be attributed to sponsorship marketing often means it is not made a priority. However, sponsorship marketing achieves 2 key goals amongst students: Brand awareness and brand image. If students have not heard of a brand, they are not going to purchase it. Similarly, if students do not associate a brand with the student demographic, then they will be much less likely to purchase it. Sponsorship marketing can help increase brand awareness amongst students, as well as improving your brand image, something which is crucial to success in the student market.

What type of university sponsorships are available?

One of the cheapest and most effective sponsorship opportunities involves sponsoring university societies. Sports clubs, interest groups, and student communities are always looking for sponsorships to fund their activities, and this can be a great way to reach a specific niche of students. Platforms such as Sponsor My Society allow you to sign-up and browse potential sponsorship opportunities. Remember, make sure the society you sponsor are as relevant as possible, as you want students to associate your brand name with the activity. For example, if you are a protein bar / energy drink, sponsoring a university rugby or gym club might be a good idea.

You can also sponsor specific aspects of universities, including prizes or events. The Brighton University website has a fantastic range of sponsorship opportunities. If you are looking for recruitment to your company, you should perhaps think about sponsoring a university job fair. Often, this will allow you a specific stand at the event, or a 10 minute guest slot for speaking, which can be an invaluable way to get your brand across to an engaged audience. You can even sponsor a specific prize, enabling your brand name to reach thousands of students simply by purchasing an Amazon gift card to give away (or something similar).

Finally, don’t forget freshers fair sponsorships. This is one of the best ways to reach students right at the start of their university life. You can be a named sponsor, have a stand at the event to promote your services, or even receive online social media/email promotions. If you want more information on sponsoring our Freshers Festivals, please get in touch.


Email Marketing:

Email marketing is one of the most powerful forms of marketing. Out of all the ways a brand can communicate with its audience, customers generally say that email is the preferred method. Whilst you might not associate email marketing with being effective for students, you cannot ignore the significant ROI that email brings. 

Research has suggested email marketing is one of the best possible marketing channels, generating $42 in revenue for every $1 spent. The reason for this is that it is an extremely cheap (or free) marketing channel, meaning every brand should be making use of it.

But how can you market to students using email marketing?

An important thing to remember is that students are much more tech savvy than the average customer. They have been bombarded with digital marketing tactics throughout their life, and will easily tire of sales speech. Instead, the best thing to do is to create content that they will enjoy. As always, content is king. 

Newsletters, for example, are a great way to do this. By putting out a weekly newsletter with interesting student content, links to blog articles, and engaging language, it will dramatically improve your brand image amongst the student demographic. Including some sort of giveaway in your newsletter is also an excellent strategy, as it engages students past simply reading the email. Once you have engaged students via a newsletter, you can then start to promote your products and services.

Early in lockdown we created a new weekly email series “Antidote to Isolation” to bring our subscribers helpful advice, messages of inspiration, deals, freebies and a chance to smile. From its launch until this point we have received consistently strong open and click-through rates showing our audience continues to engage with email.

For consistent and reliable results an email funnel is key in creating an effective system to promote your products to students. This automated series of emails, each one sent a specified period of time apart, helps to build a relationship with the customer before trying to make a sale. In the same way as a newsletter would work, this helps build up brand trust, with each part of the funnel delivering a specific piece of content. Email funnels often work best for more expensive products or services, as these require much more buyer decision time than smaller impulse purchases. Throughout the funnel, you can slowly outline how your product/service can solve a problem the student is facing, so that when the final part of the funnel comes with a call to action to buy, a sale will become much more likely.

What platform should I use?

Whether you want to create a newsletter, an email funnel, or simply market your brand through email, you need an email marketing platform. Even if you only have a small audience, using an email marketing platform is crucial for keeping on top of your marketing practices. Here is a list of some of the best email marketing platforms.

Mailchimp is a good value for money platform, giving you the ability to create lists, email capture forms, audience segments, and more. For more sophisticated email automation, better split testing and a higher email deliverability rate (including more success in getting into the inbox and not the promotions folder in Gmail), we recommend ActiveCampaign.

Whatever platform you use, make sure it has the correct features your brand will need.

Many Universities offer brands the chance to place promotional messages within their internal student emails. The results differ greatly from one institution to another with some offering industry-beating open and click through rates, others perform very poorly. We are currently compiling the media solutions offered by Universities across the UK, so if you wish to receive that information leave your info here and we will send it on when it’s available.

As with all forms of marketing, the stats and data are key to success with email marketing. Most mailing platforms allow you to view stats such as open rates, click through rates for your links, and unsubscribe data. These are crucial. If, for example, one of your emails saw lots of unsubscribes, then maybe you used too much ‘sales’ language, and you should alter this for next time. Similarly, analyse which of your emails has the highest open rates. Did you send it at a different time? Did you use a more engaging title? These are all areas which must be analysed to ensure your emails are as optimised as possible.

At Freshers Festival, we have a mailing list of 30,000+ UK students and find our weekly email newsletter a great way to stay connected and generate feedback.

If you want to promote your brand to a wider and more engaged student audience, feel free to get in touch with us.


Digital Marketing:

Every marketer knows the value of digital marketing.

Students are some of the most tech-savvy people on the planet, and digital marketing is therefore a sure-fire way you can reach them. If you are new to digital marketing, here is a quick guide to get you started.

But what are our top tips for marketing specifically to a student audience?

Firstly, don’t ignore organic digital marketing. Students love social media, and many brands have grown an extremely engaged following on social media through a variety of techniques. If you can get students to follow you for free, then you can GUARANTEE a return on investment for any organic marketing you do. Think about what students actually like. Like any demographic they are selective on where they spend disposable income so freebies and giveaways are a great way to get students interested.

Students also love memes and funny content to share with their friends. Therefore, by basing your social accounts around these areas (funny content, free giveaways, student-only deals), you can easily build an engaged following who will be interested in what you are posting. This following will be far more willing to engage with your brand and your promotional activity, and as a result will lead to more sales!

On the other hand, don’t ignore paid digital marketing, particularly paid social media marketing. Digital marketing costs are extremely low at the moment, allowing you to reach thousands of people with a very small budget. In fact, even spending £10 / day could see you reach 10,000 people. Student specific marketing is slightly more expensive, but you can still reach thousands of UK students without breaking the bank. The most important thing to do is to create an engaging and eye-catching ad. Students scroll through social media at a rapid pace, and any low-quality or boring stock image will result in them scrolling right past without looking twice. The only way to really find out the best marketing material is, of course, to test. A/B tests for digital marketing are extremely important. Advertise to the same student audience, but with multiple different copy and images, in order to see what performs best. The most important thing is to use a Pixel or tracking software to ensure you can see exactly how many actual purchases/leads/results your ad brings in. An ad can have an extremely good CPC (cost-per-click), but still receive no purchases. As always, testing is key.

Digital marketing is of course one of the best ways to promote your brand to students right now. With the right combination of paid and organic content, you can reach and engage with as many students as possible, without the need for high budgets.


Face-to-Face and Experiential Marketing:

Whilst face-to-face marketing may not be possible in the short term, this will not be the case forever, the situation is changing on a weekly basis.

When things finally start to go back to normal, it is important to be prepared for what many marketers agree is the number one way to promote your brand to students: face-to-face marketing.

Here is a story from one of our previous clients at Freshers Festival:

A well-known drinks company launched a new energy drink in 2019. This drink was to be targeted at young people, and the company’s marketing team were given £1 million to promote the brand. As is normal for a large company, the team pursued a number of different marketing avenues, including social media promotion, digital marketing, billboards, and other ads. The team also attended Freshers Festival to promote their drink at the event. A few months after the launch, the company undertook a survey to see where young people had heard about the drink. Here are the results:

  • Traditional Adverts – 24.4%
  • Social Media – 17.3%
  • Freshers Festival – 56.7%

The cost of the advertising efforts: more than £1 million. The cost of attending Freshers Festival: a few thousands pounds. The event took up less than 0.3% of their advertising budget, but provided over 50% of brand awareness for their new product amongst the students they surveyed. That’s what you call a good ROI. The point of this case study is not to show off the success of our event, but to show off the potential success of face-to-face.

Research has suggested that 98% of people feel more inclined to purchase a product after attending a face-to-face activation (EventTrack).

What is face-to-face marketing?

Face-to-face and experiential marketing simply involves directly promoting your product to potential customers through in-person means, often at an event or pop-up. Face-to-face marketing does not just have to be about sales, it can also be used to help improve brand awareness, brand experience, and brand engagement.

Face-to-face marketing works through the psychological process of ‘affect transfer’. If a customer has a fun or positive experience with the employees / marketers of the brand, they will ‘transfer’ these emotions to the brand itself, and the brand will be thought of as fun or positive in the customer’s mind. Face-to-face marketing also works due to its personal nature. Customers are much more likely to purchase products from a brand if they have a perceived emotional or personal connection to it, something that can easily be

The rapid advancements in technology over recent decades – particularly since the turn of the century – have indisputably changed the way brands talk to customers and, more importantly, how customers talk to brands, and brands listen.

In a world where companies are able to reach millions of consumers with the click of a button through social media, it’s necessary to evaluate the benefits of the different tactics available within the 21st Century marketing mix. Evaluating these as a combination of available tools will help companies decide on the right blend of solutions that will best support them to reach qualified customers and build meaningful (and profitable) relationships. Regardless of how valuable social media and other mass marketing tools are at reaching large audiences, CMO of MC2 Rob Murphy points out that “face-to-face engagement creates a personal connection and builds trust between a company and its target audience.”

Through Freshers Festival, we’ve found that face-to-face marketing provides brands with a platform to build deep relationships with customers and, as Rob Gibbs, Business Development Director at Appco UK claims, “give the brand a real personality”.

Still unsure about face-to-face marketing? Here are some stats that you might find surprising:

  • 90% of consumers have more positive feelings towards a brand after attending an event
  • 85% of consumers consider themselves ‘likely’ to purchase after participating in face-to-face experiences
  • 71% of consumers share information about their experience of face-to-face marketing with their friends / family.
  • 75% of large companies who engage in face-to-face marketing see a huge ROI of 5:1 (EMI & Mosaic, EventTrack)

Evidently, face-to-face marketing is one of the best methods of connecting your brand with a student audience.

Whilst timelines for events are currently unknown, you can still plan to include face-to-face marketing in your future marketing strategies, in order to fully engage with students.

We are already seeing hundreds of sign ups per week for our live Freshers Festivals even though we have not started to promote them so we can clearly see there is a desire from students for live events to return. This year, more than ever before, students will not have the ability to meet students through traditional channels so we understand that events such as the Freshers Festivals provide more than just a chance to meet brands and grab freebies. We are currently planning our live Freshers Festivals so that they can return, in a new COVID-19 suitable format, as soon as it is safe to do so.

Augmented Reality:

There has been an huge surge in the use of Augmented Reality, especially through apps like Snapchat, Instagram and Tik-Tok.

Google continue to release AR objects to view in your own space (check them out if you haven’t already), Pokemon Go took the world by storm and retail giant IKEA have been placing virtual sofas in homes for years now.

The AR features made available through these apps have been widely successful and have proven the value of Augmented Reality experiences for students and Gen Zs. For brands looking to launch their own immersive marketing experiences, web-based Augmented Reality (Web AR) should be the first port-of-call.

Web AR is accessible by users through their standard iOS or Android device (2.9 Billion compatible devices worldwide). This means that users don’t have to download an app to view the experience. All of the AR content is contained and functions within the mobile web-browser, simply using the native camera. This slick and smooth user-experience allows brands to deploy highly engaging and interactive Augmented Reality experiences quickly and easily.

Here are a few video examples of Web AR experience in-action. 

In terms of analytic performance, dwell time and engagement rates inside Web AR experiences are typically very high – as shown in this marketing case study, which resulted in:

– 40.3% engagement rate
– 2.08x page views per user
– ~2mins dwell time inside the experience

These results are outstanding when compared with social media advertising and other forms of traditional marketing. This is further boosted when considered that the average demographic of AR users is 16 – 34, therefore deploying a Web AR marketing campaign to target students should deliver solid results. 

Freshers Festival Group offer one of the most experienced student marketing agencies in the UK and can deliver live, virtual, digital, social media and AR campaigns for your brand.

If you are unsure what options you have to reach UK students this year, be sure to get in touch with us.

Festival Blog

Best Student Marketing Campaigns 2019/20

Over the last 12 months, there have been some incredibly creative marketing campaigns brands have used to target a younger demographic. Whilst these brands may not have directly targeted STUDENTS with these campaigns, their success amongst young people indirectly helped these adverts to become hits with the student population. 

KFC x Pizza Hut

One of the more recent campaigns, but still one of our finger-lickin’ favorites, is the collaboration between KFC and Pizza Hut. This time, they brought us the
‘Popcorn Chicken Pizza’, a crazy Pizza Hut pizza made of KFC gravy base, and
topped with KFC popcorn chicken and corn.

Brand collaborations are a great marketing technique, as they bring together audiences of both brands, and the Popcorn Chicken Pizza was no different. It trended #1 on Twitter, and was discussed on numerous Facebook pages, newspapers, and magazines. If you can trend on social media, you know you’ve developed a successful student marketing campaign!


Dorito’s Another Level

The Dorito’s ‘Another Level’ campaign was an interesting one, and was targeted specially at Generation Z. The younger generation are well known for being less-trusting of adverts, so Dorito’s made an ‘Anti-Ad’ just
for them.

On their social media, a video ad, and a billboard, Dorito’s removed all their logos, and didn’t mention their brand name once in the ad. Instead, they promoted a ‘Blue’ and ‘Red’ bag of potato chips in the shape of a triangle. Everyone knew it was a Dorito ad, but the fact that it was different made it so much more memorable, and Gen Z will have appreciated the non-branding aspect.


Paddy Power x Huddersfield

Another marketing campaign that trended #1 on Twitter and other social media for days was the Paddy Power ad in collaboration with Huddersfield Town. In July, Paddy Power and Huddersfield released an image of the new Huddersfield Town football shirt. It was ridiculously over-the-top, with a huge Paddy Power image emblazoned across the entire shirt.

Football fans across the country were outraged, and the FA even contacted Huddersfield to ask for an explanation. However, it was later revealed to be a hoax, with Paddy Power introducing a ‘Save Our Shirt’ campaign to try and stop the excessive shirt sponsorships which take place in the UK. The campaign led to numerous social media memes and discussions, and was a great success amongst young people.



Honeypot was a relatively unknown dating app until August this year, when its buzz/viral marketing campaign thrust the app into the limelight. What did they do? They simply wrote on a whiteboard: “To my cheating boyfriend @George.Rawlings don’t bother coming home tonight. Enjoy seeing this on Instagram, the same way I saw you and that girl on the weekend…oh the irony! P.S You’re deluded if you think Honeypot is the next Hinge”.

The whiteboard was help up outside Liverpool Street Station, and was photographed and shared across social media. Just like Paddy Power however, it was soon revealed to be a fake, with the app’s founder, George Rawlings, wanting to get the word out about his new app Honeypot. This was a huge success, and dramatically increased brand awareness of the app, especially amongst younger people on social media.

Dracula Billboard

We couldn’t talk about 2019/20 marketing without mentioning the Dracula Billboard! Made for the new BBC Drama, the billboard looked like a bunch of random stakes during the day. But in the evening, the shadow created an incredible Dracula face. A timelapse video of the billboard went viral on social media, helping dramatically raise the profile of BBC’s Dracula series amongst young people.

Vagabond Prosecco ATM

At Freshers Festival, we are passionate about face-to-face marketing. That is why we loved Vagabond’s face-to-face or ‘face-to-ATM’ marketing campaign in January. What did they do? Well, they made a free vending machine that dispenses glasses of Prosecco to passers-by. The machine went (unsurprisingly) viral on social media, trending on Twitter and Instagram. Forbes Magazine even posted about it.

We encourage all brands to take their face-to-face marketing to the next level, and cool activations such as this are one of the best ways a brand can be shared across social media and go viral amongst students. If you want to learn more about face-to-face marketing, download our free E-book here.

Student and Millennial Marketing Strategies

Creative Ways For Fashion Brands to Market To Students in 2020

Limited budget, questionable outfits during 9am lectures and an unlimited thirst for comfy hoodies – it seems that striking the right balance between fashion and accessibility when marketing to students can seem like an impossible task.

So what exactly are the perks of marketing to students for fashion brands and how will doing so increase your sales?

Though staying a la mode may not seem like a top priority for students, research from Topman shows that students believe that being in style is an essential component of navigating their studies, with 75% saying they changed their fashion style upon starting university, and 41% believing that dressing right and keep up with student fashion trends is a must.

Emma Galpin, digital marketing manager at Topman, said: “The misconception about students is that they blow all their student loan on partying, when in fact they prioritise fashion over bar crawls and believe that looking the part is just as important at university as making their grades.

And if there are an estimated 5 million students in the UK according to UCAS, with 535,200 freshers as of 2016  and an average spend of £30 billion – that’s a pretty massive demographic who are dying to get their hands on the latest pair of Topshop boots.

And if you’re wondering – how the heck do I market my fashion brand to appeal to style-conscious students?

That’s where we come in.

With more than a decade of student marketing experience under our belt, including collaborations with the UK’s biggest fashion and retail brands, such as NIKE, Hollister, Clinique, IOLLA, House of Fraser and Benefit Cosmetics, we know our stuff when it comes to student fashion and spending habits.

From making the most of online audiences to fostering relationships with student press, there are a myriad of ways to increase fashion brand appeal to the student market.

Increase Conversion Rates Through Re-targeted Facebook and Instagram Ads

When it comes to students and online shopping, it’s a match made in heaven.

According to Voxburner, around 28% of young people (aged 16-24) buy the majority of their clothes online and via apps, with students claiming that online shopping is an easier option than shopping in person. I mean, who has time to traipse through town when you’re swamped with essay deadlines?

Student discounts like those from the UNiDAYs app which boasts more than 4.3 million users, as well as online discounts from massive fashion and retail brands like ASOS, offering 10% off to students, and Amazon, offering a FREE Amazon Prime membership for students for the first 6 months, prove that there’s demand from students when it comes to online shopping.

So how do you determine a fashion marketing strategy to appeal to digital student shoppers?

Through re-targeted Facebook ads.

Not convinced?

Statistics show that of all 18-24 year olds in the UK, there are 3.8 million female users and 3.9 million male users – not too shabby an amount of potential customers if you ask me.

That means that if students are online browsing, and haven’t yet committed to purchasing any products (maybe they’re waiting for their student loan to gift them some dolla) – they’ll be re-directed back to the website through Facebook, increasing the likelihood of them completing an order.

So how does it work?

It’s pretty simple. You can re-target visitors back to your website by creating custom audiences with Facebook and targeting lookalike audiences to expand your reach. If they still aren’t convinced – you can target the ads with a slight discount to encourage them to click, a great way of giving students an excuse to shell out on a new backpack or party dress. Check out this handy piece on how to track shopping cart abandonment through re-targeted Facebook ads.

Run Fashion Shows/Events In Student Venues

Face-to-face interaction and event marketing with your target audience will create memorable experiences and show them that you genuinely care about their custom – leading to an increase in brand loyalty and what every business person is looking for – sales.

How do we know?

After ten years of running the biggest and best Freshers’ Festival in the UK, we know the value of experiential and F2F marketing. Here are our reasons why event marketing is a smart choice for winning student and millennial customers.

Putting on fashion shows in student unions with discounted tickets, raffles and competitions is therefore a fab way of directly reaching out to your market and providing a positive experience of your brand as well as increasing brand awareness.

According to Forbes, 60% of millennials said they are loyal to a brand especially if they have built a relationship with them through positive experiences. Research also states that customers who recognise a brand are less likely to pay attention to other brands who they aren’t familiar with. the NSPCC also states that students consider social activity a priority, meaning events are a sure fire way of increasing fashion sales to students.

And since most students are on social media, you can easily run a hashtag for an event to increase your  following and customer base online. It’s a win-win.

Create Style Guides Tailored To Students

Since most students enter university fresh out of high school – many feel like their fashion sense may not be their greatest strength – which is why student fashion style guides are so popular, created by national newspapers like the Telegraph and the Guardian as well as independent publications like The Skinny.

But how do we know that style guides work?

Two-thirds of UK students spend their free time shopping according to the Independent  and so style guides influence student purchasing decisions, by proving that a brand tailors their products to their fashion interests. Research from the Freshers Marketing Report reveals that 87% of 18-24s want brands to entertain, inform and inspire them.

It could be a style guide on casual but of the moment fashion for everyday student living, or a budget friendly guide on outfits fit for nights on the town. Either way, tailoring content via digital or print is a fantastic way of attracting new and existing customers and giving them incentives to shop with you over another brand who doesn’t take the time to consider the student demographic.

Collaborate With Student Websites & Influencers

The Independent conducted research on the top 10 student pass-times, which included reading blogs.

Taking advantage of student reading habits through student magazines or by collaborating with Influencers and bloggers will increase exposure of your brand to students and allow you to easily access your target demographic directly and likely, at a much lower fee than with more well known press.

Need more convincing?

There are heaps of other perks of advertising through student lead media.

Reaching out to student bloggers and social media influences to run campaigns will also allow your brand to stay up to date with what students are looking for from a fashion perspective but also utilize a fresh audience that you might not otherwise have access to. Giving bloggers the chance to run competitions with your items will give them better online visibility as well legitimizing your products for a student audience. Here are the many benefits of working with social media influencers.

Interested in other ways of marketing to student and millennial audiences? Check out our Playbook or get involved with the UK’s largest freshers events.


Student and Millennial Marketing Strategies

Why Event Marketing Is A Smart Choice For Winning Student Customers

Ever wondered why so many of the world’s most powerful brands spend their time and budget engaging with students through event marketing.

The answer is simple.

Students have tremendous buying power and will be more influential on the future of your brand than any other generation.

But that’s not all…

The Profit Power of the Student Audience

  • There are almost 5 million students in the UK (UCAS). More importantly however…
  • They have an annual spending power set to top £30bn per annum (UCAS). Imagine capturing your share of this market, what could that mean to your bottom line?
  • 42% of Millennials are interested in helping companies develop future products or services. (Forbes x Elite Daily). This audience are currently making or breaking brands and will be the driving force behind success or failure of companies in the future.
  • 60% are often or always loyal to brands that they currently purchase from. (Forbes x Elite Daily). Entice a customer in their late teens or early twenties? Think of the lifetime value of that individual.

Students and millennials pack some serious punch. They have cash to spend, share your brand with their friends on social media and are fiercely loyal customers.

You can get a full lowdown on the power of the market through our infographic.

Event Marketing to Students and Millennials

So you’re probably beginning to wonder how you can win more Millennial or student customers for your business, right?

Here’s the good news: it’s actually not that difficult.

Last year we attracted 10,409 Millennials (aged 17-24) to our live event in Glasgow…

…And if we can do it, then so can you. 

How? We use these F2F marketing techniques, that when perfected, can double or triple your profit margins overnight.

Don’t worry. This isn’t another cringe worthy “how to article” or fluff piece to seduce search engines; this is a REAL tested and proven tutorial that attracts students Millennials to your business.

Sound good to you? Great! Let’s get started.

So What is F2F?

Huge changes in tech and available media channels will have inevitably changed the way you speak to your potential customers.

Regardless of the power of digital in the marketing mix, huge power still exists in connection on a personal, one-to-one level.

By talking to someone face to face (F2F), or through event marketing, you can show them who you are and what your brands stands for. You can also gauge their response and alleviate any objections immediately.

Rob Murphy, CMO of MC2 said “face-to-face engagement creates a personal connection and builds trust between a company and its target audience.”

So it’s about building deep and long lasting relationships through the ability to give your brand a real personality.

Let me give you an example. In 2016 we wanted to know more about our audiences’ living situation – did they live in Student Halls, at home with parents, in private rented property etc.?

We sent out an email to 18,022 relevant students on our database to ask a single multiple choice question. 5843 opened the email and 1603 responded, a 8.9% click through response rate. Pretty decent and well above industry average for questionnaires.

We then decided to ask the same question to those who were attending the Freshers Festival that year.

We had a quick chat with each student (or the group they came in), asked them if they would mind answering the question and handed them a tablet to do so if they wished. From this process we received 6771 responses, a 60%+ reply rate.

By asking face to face we were able to build rapport and give a reason as to why we were asking the question (check out Ellen Langer’s famous 1978 experiment on why that happens here). However, the fact remains, the level of feedback we got from asking in person (60%+) isn’t likely through any other channel including email and social media.

How To Master Face to Face and Event Marketing to Students

There are four simple steps to create successful Student and Millennial face to face campaigns (in fact these steps apply to face to face campaigns for any audience).

Set Your Event Marketing Objectives

Our Playbook on Face to Face Marketing goes into deep detail on how to do this (including a shiny worksheet, exciting right?) but in essence it’s simple planning.

We ask the following five questions each and every time we launch a face to face campaign whether it be a small single on-campus event or a massive multi venue Festival. By answering these questions you can build out a robust marketing plan:

  1. What would success look like post-event? Start with the end goal in mind, what do you want your campaign to achieve?
  2. How would you know that you’ve achieved this? Have clear targets and KPIs which can be measured by management and the team on the ground.
  3. To achieve this, what messages will you have communicated? What will your team be saying to those they interact with?
  4. Which tactics will help you communicate those messages effectively? What is your Call to Action and how can you maximise the number of people taking action? Are you signing up customers to a landing page, asking them to Like your Page or driving purchase intent through voucher codes?
  5. What do you need to deliver your campaign? Do you have the team and tools needed to deliver those core messages? Are your staff briefed? Do they understand their targets?

Finally while not a planning question always remember – you’re creating an event, so put on a show

Create an Engaging Story But Stay True To Your Brand

We often find that brands think they have to change their messaging to target the student and Millennial audience. On the contrary, what we see is that the brands who remain consistent, true to their values and avoid the cliché marketing tactics synonymous with student and Millennial marketing efforts, reap the rewards.

Focus your time and energy on thinking creatively and creating engaging key messages not changing your whole brand strategy.

Hire Great Brand Ambassadors – Your People Can Make Or Break It

Time and budget investment is needed for any face to face campaign so make sure that you spend enough time on creating the perfect team to deliver your activity and achieve the results you need.

You can have the most appealing brand campaign but if your team aren’t engaging, your target customers will walk away. Make sure your team are passionate and educated on your brand.

To help with this we have created a post on how to create a great brand ambassador team but in short the key points are:

  • Define Your Vision. Your Brand Ambassadors also need to buy into the campaign to deliver. Plan, set your goals and set objectives clearly.
  • Hire Well. Always be on the look out for great team members for your Brand Ambassador teams or hire through a trusted and experienced Agency.
  • Don’t Pay Peanuts. You are investing your time and budget into face to face campaigns so don’t fall at the last hurdle by attracting the wrong team through a poorly thought out pay structure. Like any form of marketing, you get what you pay for.
  • Make Use of Internal Incentives. Do your team have a motivation to go above and beyond. Can your brand offer products or experiences which incentivise your team to go that extra mile without it taking away from your valuable marketing budget?
  • Educate Your Team. They need to know who you are as a brand, what you stand for and what you’re trying to communicate through the campaign. Knowledge is power.
  • Tap into your team. Quite often your brand ambassadors will be your target market so ask them what they think about your product, your campaign, your incentives and Calls to Action. You have free feedback on tap so why not take advantage of it.


Influence the Influencers

Working with key Influencers is paramount in us creating engaging and successful face to face campaigns.

This is the type of Influencer that pre-dates Social Media. For us great Influencers include the likes of Student Accommodations, University Unions and the Academic Institutions themselves.

So think about who has access to your market. Who has an email database that would create the perfect invite list for your events?

Then work out what you can do to offer more value to them than they can offer you.

We work with a lot of Student Accommodation providers so have long standing, strong relationships with them but our goal is always to work out what we can bring to the table that would create a great experience for their students and add value to their service.

This year that will include “Move In Days” where our Brand Ambassadors will be at the properties on the days when students move in to their room. We help them carry their gear, answer questions they might have about the city, tell them the best places to go and of course inform them about the Freshers Festivals.

Everyone wins. The property managers offer a valuable service to students, students get help and a friendly face on a stressful and often scary day and we get to engage with thousands of new students.

There can be a lot to think about when creating a great face to face or event marketing campaign but get it right and it’s an extremely rewarding component to the marketing mix. Get it right and your customers will not just love you for the moment but for a long, long time.

Make sure to download our Playbook to help master Face to Face and Event Marketing to students, and if we can help you plan your events or if you need someone to take the weight of booking your on-campus campaigns, be sure to let us know.

Of course we’d love to see you at the London and Glasgow Freshers Festivals, the UK’s largest student and Millennial exhibitions so get in touch for more info.