So You Think You Know Students

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Is there a typical student?

There are a lot of generalisations about students. The common stereotype is of a white, middle-class student from the UK aged 18-21 who are studying for an undergraduate degree, goes out all the time, drinks a lot and does not work.

But does this image bare any resemblance to any actual student?

Given there are currently 2.5 million students studying at over 165 Higher Education Institutions one or two might fit this stereotype, but, the student body is far more diverse than stereotypes would suggest.

International students in the UK

The UK is a leading provider of Higher Education on the international market. Currently, non-EU students contribute over £5 billion to the UK economy.

Half of this is from off-campus spending.

There are over 400,000 non-UK students studying in the UK from all over the world. 42% of international students are from Asia, 31% from the EU (non-UK), 9% from Africa, 6% from North America and 6% from the Middle East. Most international undergraduate students are from China whilst most international postgraduate students are from India.

Ethical and environmentally responsible

Students are an engaged part of society in the issues which affect people around the world. They have a strong sense of social responsibility and are increasingly environmental and ethical.

74% of students believe that ethics are very important, with a further 23% believing that they are somewhat important. 65% believe that it is very important to be environmentally friendly with another 32% believing it to be somewhat important.

Work, study and party

Students have largely unstructured days and spend a lot of time socialising. The average student claims that they spend 52% of their time studying (other research suggests that this number may be closer to 30%), 29% socialising, 15% engaging in extracurricular activities, clubs and societies and 5% working part-time.

Looking the part

For many students projecting the right image and identity is important. Students are more likely to relax at the happening venues, wear designer clothes (than second-hand clothes from charity shops) and have the latest gadgets and technology.

Students are also far more likely than other consumers to consider the brand image when choosing a mobile phone or whilst buying a computer or technology. You only need to enter a university library to see Apple computers scattered across many desks.

Deciding what to buy

Students are very savvy consumers. They are price sensitive and always looking for offers and promotions. Price is a very important factor for 83% of students.

66% of students use search engines prior to making a purchase online and 52% of students check out a number of online shops.

49% of students use review sites and 42% check out the brand or manufacturers website.

Only 20% of students use community or forum sites, and just 5% use social networks to inform their decisions.

Baked beans on toast or roast lamb for dinner?

There is a persevering image of students eating baked beans on toast or pasta because they can’t afford anything else. Though students are very aware of how much money they have and what they are spending it on, this image simply isn’t true. The average weekly spend by students is £185.

Fresh olives and calamari for dinner please

With an average weekly spend of £185 students don’t want to deprive themselves of the latest trends.

For instance, 51% of students have sky or digital TV at home.

Students’ don’t dress on the cheap either, spending between £120 and £200 per month on clothes. They tend to stay on top of the latest fashions, go out twice a week and have the latest technology.

The biggest expenditure for students is rent. Although this varies by location, on average it costs students around £4k per year outside London, or £5k in London.

Students spend a further £2k per year on Food and household goods.

This leaves students on average £2k to spend on personal items each year, and £1.2k on leisure activities.

The top financial priority for students is rent, followed by food, snacks, drinks (non-alcoholic) and then bills.

However, students are savvy consumers. They are 2.5 times as likely to be amongst the heaviest online consumers and non day-to-day purchases are made online, taking advantage of vouchers and offers.

They aren’t typically impulse buyers and are also price sensitive and know how much they have and what they are prepared to spend it on.

Harnessing free time

Students have largely unstructured days which allows them to spend a lot of time socialising. This generates a constant need for new topics of conversation and a strong word of mouth community.

When seeking opinions on new products friends are the favored and most trusted source.

Indeed, 71% of students list word of mouth as a key way that they find out about new products and trends, followed by TV for 54% of people. Outdoor is also a key player, especially Adshels and transport media, as in many cities students use public transport.

Loyal consumers

On average students use 2.6 loyalty cards on a regular basis and 86% of students say that loyalty cards make them more likely to use a product or service.

Students are also less demanding about the benefits and rewards which are offered by loyalty cards due to inexperience. However, students are more likely to be concerned about having their data collected and abused.

Loyalty cards have a strong penetration amongst students. 54% of students have a Tesco Clubcard, and 51% have a Boots Advantage Card. 96% of students who have a Tesco Clubcard or Boots Advantage Card use it on a monthly basis. In fact 89% of loyalty cards held by students are used on a monthly basis.

However, loyalty cards aren’t necessarily driving behavior. Students are most likely to have and use a loyalty card because they were going to use the service anyway, and the card offers appropriate points or discounts.

To download the whole report, The Truth About Students, visit: