- What is a university fresher?
- What is Freshers’ Week in the UK?
- So how can you best support them and earn their loyalty in the process?
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A new university term is on the horizon, and with Results Day fast approaching in the UK, young people across the country are getting ready to make the biggest step of their lives so far: Freshers’ Week. Moving away from home, making new friends and trying to balance a budget is tricky at the best of times, and new students will be looking to the brands they love for trusted support and advice.
What is a university fresher?
A fresher is a first-year university student. This term applies to all undergraduate students, regardless of age – freshers are often 18-year-olds straight from college but can also be 35-year-olds studying for their first degree!
What is Freshers’ Week in the UK?
Freshers’ Week is the week before the academic year starts at a university, and is 7 days of events, activities and opportunities to meet new people. Freshers’ Week normally includes a Freshers’ Fair, in which students can sign up for new experiences and societies. Many brands work in collaboration with universities to have their own stalls at Freshers’ Fairs, too.
So how can you best support them and earn their loyalty in the process?
Student discounts are a great way to support young people and earn loyal customers, particularly given the increasing cost of living – a 2022 Voxburner survey revealed that out of those young people set to start university this year, 64% are worried about how they’re going to financially support themselves, whilst 86% of current students said exclusive discounts help.
A great way of launching discounts to young people is at Freshers Fairs, with 67% of young people favouring freebies and giveaways from brands on campuses. Our Student Life report* revealed that 53% of students have attended a Freshers Fair during their first week as an undergrad – this is a huge demographic of young people you can potentially connect with your brand! You can further support young people by creating pop-up stalls on campus which can act as places for them to gather and meet, as many of them will be wanting to make new connections and establish friendships with their new peers.
So what can you do?
Offer student discounts wherever possible. They’re not only a way of supporting students who are tight on cash anyway but are also a way to earn loyal customers who will return to your brand later in life. Check out Student Beans to find out how you and your brand can offer discounts to both current students and graduates.
Starting university is a whirlwind for any student, and from moving to a new city (58% of students) to making the best cup of tea, there’s a lot to learn! Our research revealed that 41% of students want advice on how to prepare for university, and this is where you come in. Many will start the term with little to no understanding of how to budget, cook healthily and generally look after themselves (note – this isn’t necessarily their fault (or all students!), they’ve had very little independence over the past few years!), and your help won’t go amiss.
What can you do?
Use your platform to share advice for students, whether that’s posting simply recipes on your Instagram so they can get their weekly dose of home comforts or taking to TikTok to offer financial advice in bite-sized, accessible snippets. Content like this is a great way of earning their respect and trust whilst driving that all-important brand-consumer engagement.
Create a Freshers shopping list
86% of students said they bought a lot of the things they needed for university in advance but a huge 53% said they needed advice – after all, many of them will be moving out from home for the first time and will have no idea where to start!
What do students buy during Freshers’ Week?
Our research shows that the top five things students purchased before the start of the term were: stationary (80%), clothes, shoes and accessories (63%), homewares (57%), tech and mobile (51%) and health and beauty products (49%).
Think how you’d feel in their position… pretty overwhelmed!
What can you do?
Take to social media or your website and share a list of things that every student will need before they go to university, from bedding and kitchen appliances to laptops and biscuits (very important for making friends). Don’t forget to feature your brand/product(s) on the list, though!
Mental health support
A 2022 Voxburner survey revealed that 28% of students felt isolated and lonely during Freshers, 14% said nobody cared how they were doing and 31% of students starting university this year said they’re concerned about the lack of support for students – these are concerning stats, and your brand can certainly step in to support these vulnerable young individuals.
One great way to do this? Challenge stereotypes and don’t assume every student is the same. In our Voxburner+ Student Life report, we shared that, of students over 18, 77% drink alcohol but only 38% do so once a week – this isn’t a generation of hardcore partyers who are obsessed with getting drunk. In fact, many don’t drink at all, with some citing physical health, mental health and religion as reasons for going sober. Don’t assume all students are the same, or else you’ll risk many feeling unseen and unheard.
What can you do to support Freshers’ mental health?
Our research revealed that 72% of young people want brands to talk about mental health on social media, so consider getting involved, or even just creating a safe space (on or offline) where students can go when they feel down. However, it’s vital that any information you share must come from a valid/reliable source, and it’s always best to platform the experts.
Collaborate with students
As we discussed in Voxburner+’s Higher Ed report, 78% of prospective students want to hear from current students in marketing campaigns – after all, it’s the most effective way of helping them find out what the experience is really like! Whether it’s running TikTok live streams with the help of students, getting them on board to be brand ambassadors or even running a peer-to-peer mentoring scheme, anything that will help new students connect with current ones will be a win in their eyes!
What can you do?
Students will always prefer to hear from other students – they’re more relatable and understand what they’re going through – so don’t ignore this. Consider creating marketing campaigns with the help of current students or getting them on your stalls at Freshers’ fairs… anything to build up those connections.
*Want to find out more about student trends and how your brand can best support this cohort of young people? Check out our Voxburner+ report, Student Life, available now on Voxburner+.