Students are living on a budget but not without the latest trends and technology

Despite current economic pressures, students still represent a lucrative market for buying the latest products. They may be managing their finances, in some cases for the first time, but research shows that often balancing their budget is not done at the expense of missing out on the latest fashions and gadgets.

Last month Kantar Media’s TGI survey found that 1.7 million adults aged over 18 are ‘currently in full time education in Britain’. For many of these students starting university, this is not only their first experience of domestic independence, but also financial independence.

On the whole, the findings indicate that students

‘are significantly more likely than the average adult to enjoy going out to trendy places, wear designer clothes and buy the latest gadgets.’

With this in mind, they represent a diverse and receptive audience from which to harvest new and loyal customers. The research compared student attitudes to that of the average British adult and revealed the following trends:

Brand image:

  • over twice as likely to claim ‘brand image is the most important factor when choosing their mobile network;
  • 82% more likely to claim brand image is the most important factor when buying a computer;
  • 51% more likely ‘to pay more for environmentally friendly products‘.


  • over twice as likely ‘to be amongst the heaviest fifth of consumers of cinema;
  • over two and a half times as likely ‘to be amongst the heaviest fifth of consumers of the internet;


  • 67% more likely ‘to say that relevant direct mail can change their opinion of a company or a brand‘.

Peer Review

The TGI research found that the internet is ‘one of the most efficient means for reaching students’. Moreover, a report by The Student Room and the Internet Advertising Bureau has revealed that when researching products, students place the highest value not just on the opinions of their friends on social networking sites, but also on those of their peers on forum and community websites.

On The Student Room members use dedicated forums to seek advice from their peers on Fashion and Beauty, Money and Finance, and Technology and Computers, which includes the sub-forums Mobile Phones and Laptops and Netbooks, to name a couple.

The beginning of a lifelong friendship

A good example of the long term benefits for brands targeting new students is the area of bank accounts. As many open student accounts for free overdrafts and to deposit student loans, banks are keen to compete for the guaranteed business of these students for at least the duration of their degree.

TSR’s Money and Finance forum has consistently seen a new thread exclusively for the Natwest Student Account for several years, in addition to more general comparative threads.

Kantar Media’s TGI survey found that ‘66% of students choose their main current account themselves‘, and that it is these financial brands that ‘they often stay loyal to long term’.

Therefore, the research indicates that getting students on board with a brand image or service at this early stage could lead to a mutually beneficial commercial relationship for the long term.