5 Things students want from brands in 2015

Students are notoriously hard to please, and in 2015 they seem to be challenging brands even more with their high expectations. We asked a group of students to answer a questionnaire on what they look for in a brand and their responses have been included below.

Here are our five top tips to get those price-conscious, baked-beans-gobbling, social media addicts buying into your brand:

1) Added Value

Most students are market savvy, often researching products before they buy them, so highlight the benefits of your product on your website clearly and maybe offer an incentive, like a free sample. We all know that students love a freebie, who doesn’t? Student discount is most highly prized, with 73% of those surveyed mentioning it as a key factor when deciding to buy a brand.

2) Get Ethical


Today’s students are very conscientious, with 97% of those surveyed saying ethical values are important. More than half (51%) said they were more likely to choose brands that have ethical credentials or demonstrate ethical values. Connecting with a charity, supporting local causes or going green are all sure-fire ways to gain a student following. Not only do the brand’s ethical values reflect the consumer’s, but according to our student respondents it also builds trust and credibility.

3) Email

Students like to connect with brands through email; according to 84% of those surveyed this is their preferred channel, over Facebook and other sites (27%). They’re not looking for conversations, so clear messages of discounts, competitions and free products are important. But it’s not always possible to do this, so if you can’t be useful, be entertaining.

4) Think Creatively

A huge 87% of 18-24s want brands to entertain, inform and inspire them. Students are interested in exclusive content, but less is more if you want to engage them. Be clever and creative; never bombard them with empty messages.

When asked what they instantly look for in an unknown brand, one of the top responses from students was “imagination and originality” in their marketing. Grow their interest through originality and make your brand fun and engaging, if they find something intriguing they will recommend it to friends and family. So share something interesting and they will too!

5) Quality & Price

It’s a common misconception that young people only want cheap products. Price is the most important factor (83%) according to our research, but 73% consider quality, making them both key elements in the buying process.

Students also consider self-image very important, so having the latest fashion items, gadgets and technology is essential in maintaining their identities. This makes students far more likely to consider brand image in their purchase decisions. Lack of originality was deemed a significant factor for what puts students off brands.

In terms of brands best suited to students, those that offered student discounts, quality and added value, such as next day delivery, topped the list. McDonald’s and ASOS appeared numerous times thanks to their reputation for understanding what students want and delivering in more ways than one.


Seize the initiative in the student market; invest time and money in building relationships with students and you could gain customers for life.

Authors – Bethany Smith, Lydia Coleman, Thi Nguyen, Clark Townley, Amber Pinkerton and Renata Michalowska (University of Gloucestershire Students)