Understanding Freshers’ week and how to target students


Kirsty Pritchard, Assistant Director at BAM Student Marketing explores the benefits of Freshers’ Fairs and how to effectively engage students.

For any brand with students as a key demographic, Freshers’ Fairs are a must attend event. Whether you’re a local brand attending one or two fairs or a national brand executing a nationwide tour, Freshers’ is the place to be seen. In these first 100 days students are on a journey of new identity and beginnings, which means that Freshers’ Fairs are the very best place to start a relationship.

In an ever changing market, keeping ahead of changes in trends and behaviours is pivotal. Our research has shown that students attend Freshers’ Fairs to find out more about their new city or environment, experience new brands, products and services. At this moment in time they are also open to new ideas and trying new things. They are making purchasing choices for the first time in their lives and so this is a prime opportunity for brands to connect and engage with students that could potentially become a lifetime customer.

However Freshers’ Fairs are a crowded place, full to the brim of brands vying for the attention of students. Therefore it is pivotal for brands to stand out from the crowd and create a lasting impression. Brand activation must be fun, attractive and engaging to break through the noise.

Brands that create an immersive, fun and memorable experience, create a much closer bond and connect more effectively with students. The experience of a perfectly formed experiential marketing campaign will inspire and ultimately build loyalty, so brands can expect to make a ‘friend for life’.

It is also important for brands not to forget the all important freebies. Year after year our research shows that Freebies are one of the main incentives for students to attend a fair. This needn’t be expensive. Students really do latch onto the most random of items. We have seen the wooden spoon top the poll for a favourite freebie. You really don’t need to go all out on your merchandise, you just need to get into the psyche of the audience and give them something they want and need. Brands that provide original freebies tend to be favoured and remembered, by students.

When planning your Freshers’ campaign do not overlook the importance of devoting the time and effort required to recruit the perfect promotional staff for your campaign and your brand. After all promotional staff are the face of your brand, they are on the front-line interacting with potential or existing customers.

This could be the first time someone has heard of your brand and we all know how important first impressions are, they can affect their perception of your brand for life. Promotional staff are a pivotal piece of any experiential campaign puzzle and they really are the difference between a good campaign and a great campaign. Engaging, professional staff will create a lasting impression on new or existing customers, not only enhancing the reputation of your brand but improving the success of your campaign. Our surveys have shown that 24 % of students were not aware of big name brands but over half of these would go on to purchase having interacted with them at the freshers fair.

With hundreds of Freshers’ Fairs happening across the UK and ROI in literally a matter of weeks, it really is an amazing opportunity for brands to make their mark in the student market. After the first 3 months of university life, students start to settle down into their new surroundings, the choices and decisions they made during their first few months have started to take form and stick. We see year on year brand loyalty forming during the Freshers period and lasting into life after study, so the fairs are a must for any brand!

Ben Bestford, Director at BAM Student Marketing said “Freshers’ Fairs are a fantastic way to engage with students who are making choices for the first time. Whether you are a startup, local business or global brand, everyone plays a part at these events. If you get it right, this could be a customer for life but don’t make the mistake thinking Freshers’ Fairs are the only time you should advertise to students. Continue to engage across multiple platforms throughout the academic year and more importantly, offer value for money.”

BAM Student Marketing is a niche, values driven agency. BAM have the experience and expertise to deliver full-service youth marketing campaigns from concept creation through to campaign evaluation, and everything in-between. Whether dipping into one element or the whole package, their clients benefit from their 20 years’ experience and unparalleled insight into the youth market.