Youth marketing

Freshers 2023 | Trends to Look Out For

Written by
Izzy Hall
Published on
May 22, 2023
Last updated
January 18, 2024

What this article covers

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How is it that time already?! Freshers is right around the corner, and thousands of students will be spending their summers excitedly looking forward to meeting new people, returning to the structure of academic life, and celebrating their freedom away from home.

But this important time in university students' lives isn't just a big moment for them - it's also a key time in the calendar for brands. Catch their attention now, and they'll be loyal customers for life!

In this blog post, we'll be sharing some of the key trends that will be appearing as students return to campus in September. Taking the time to understand what students are looking for when they head back to university will help higher education marketers perfect their campaigns and maximise engagement.

Pulling on exclusive data from our upcoming snapshot, Freshers 2023: Your Ultimate Guide, this blog will focus on student priorities for the year ahead, explore how students are spending their money, and share how you can reach them.

Gen Z group of college students looking very happy talking at the school and laughing

Why is this important for student marketing?

Today's students are tomorrow's spenders, so it's vital for brands to start understanding Gen Z shoppers whilst they're still at university in order to secure their long-term loyalty.

It may come as no surprise that competition is fierce, so brands need to set themselves apart from the crowd by offering great discounts and value for money. In fact, 90% of students are more likely to buy from a brand if they offer a discount!

Be sure to get in touch with the team at Student Beans to learn more about how you can kickstart your student discount programme or boost your current offering.

What will Gen Z students be spending money on over the summer?

Interestingly, 30% of Gen Z students will be making their pre-university purchases in the 1-2 weeks before their return, meaning there's lots of time to perfect your student marketing before targeting them over this period.

Gen Z woman shopping on her phone

However, summer is still an important spending time for this young generation. Three sectors that students will be spending money on over the summer period are:

  1. Clothes/shoes - 50%
  2. Entertainment - 44%
  3. Health and beauty - 31%

You can learn more about Gen Z summer spending habits over on our blog.

3 upcoming Freshers trends to look out for

So we know young people's spending habits in the build-up to Freshers, but what about when they get there? What are the important and emerging themes that you need to be aware of? Check out our top three trends ahead of the season.

1. Freshers Fair attendance drops

Once a popular way of meeting other students, interacting with brands, and discovering new activities (as well as securing some freebies!), attendance to Freshers Fairs is dropping amongst Gen Z students. As we reveal in the snapshot, only 40% of university students plan on attending a Freshers Fair this year.

Brands looking to get in front of students during this time need to take this stat into account and adapt their Gen Z marketing strategy, putting resource into not only physical initiatives but online campaigns, too.

Gen Z women smiling and looking at a phone

2. University is important for routine

Summer is all about rest and relaxation, but this young cohort knows that the good times can't last forever! Many university students are looking forward to returning to the rhythm of campus life, entering once again into a routine that provides them with structure and security.

"I'm excited for a fresh though familiar start to my last year of college", shared one Gen Z student with Voxburner, whilst another said they're looking forward to "preparing for my post-graduate experience."

3. Technology continues to dominate

In a world dominated by technology, it's not just a nice-to-have for students, but a necessity. Online learning, hybrid work, and the ever-developing world of social media means that having the latest gadgets is more important than ever, and this is reflected in the jump in spend for students once the academic year gets underway. In fact, this almost doubles, with 16% of students spending money on this sector over summer versus the 28% who'll be investing during term time.

Gen Z university students meet at coffee shop to discuss their next project

So there you have it – three key student trends you need to be aware of ahead of Freshers. Youth marketers: you’ve been warned! Start promoting those discounts and working on your Gen Z marketing strategy and watch your student engagement soar. 

Want to learn more about the Freshers and Back to School season? Sign up for our webinar Reaching Gen Z During Freshers Week and Back to School Season now!

This webinar will be bursting with actionable insights from our expert panel to help you deliver a successful campaign to make sure your brand resonates with the ever-evolving needs of Gen Z.

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