BAM: face-to-face brand marketing is key to tapping £15.5bn student market

Face-to-face brand marketing at freshers’ fairs remains key to the student market despite the prevalence of social networking, according to new research by media sales agency BAM.

Bam surveyed more than 1,000 students at 20 of this year’s university freshers’ fairs and found pizza brand Domino’s was the top commercial stall among students and offered the best freebies.

According to researchers, freebies should not be underestimated since 60% of students admitted it was the lure of freebies that attracted them to the fair.

For a third (33%) of students surveyed, word of mouth on campus was the most influential mode of communication when deciding to attend the fair, followed by the traditional ‘welcome pack’ provided on arrival (27%), with social media accounting for just 11%.

Tim Bodenham, BAM managing director, said: “With 2.5m students currently in higher education, freshers’ fairs offer unrivalled access for brands to reach a target audience at a time when they are really open to forming relationships with brands. The unique setting is unlike other traditional marketing methods because it becomes part of the student experience instead of interrupting it.

“Brands that are able to capture the buzz and excitement young people feel on campus at the start of their university career, have the opportunity to create lucrative long term brand loyalty. The student market has an estimated spending power of more than £15.5bn. They are the demographic least impacted by the recession and represent a true cross section of the UK.”

BAM’S research found almost 80% of students who attended freshers’ fairs in 2012 would return next year when they would most like to see a rise in food (32%) and fashion outlets (28%) in attendance. This year, the first-year students were least interested in job opportunities as a reason to visit the fairs, scoring just 2%.

BAM claims to have access to the largest database of student-focused media in the UK and has established its reputation through successfully placing brands in front of the 18-24 year old student market that attend universities. The BAM 2012 Freshers’ Fair Survey gives voice to the students in attendance, and provides brands with a realistic indication of activities that the audience welcomes.