Can the pub be a student hub ever again?

/v/d/i/Ruth6.jpg

A very senior corporate executive once told me that he had achieved a first class degree at university in “girls and beer, but sadly not in my history degree”. His experience is not uncommon – after all, students are known to love a drink or two.

But new research suggests that the nature of student drinking has changed, with pubs missing out on their custom. Of those students who consume alcohol at university, 82% say they drink at home, followed by 68% at nightclubs. Only 52% of students who drink do so in pubs, according to a survey by Studentbeans.com.

So why is the pub no longer the social heartland it used to be? When I was at university, we sat around for endless hours in dingy watering holes, debating issues from world politics to which of us had most recently been burgled.

I think it comes down to the old issue of value. The cost of a pub experience now outweighs its value in many cases. After all, students are now paying fees of up to £9000. The number of applications to university this autumn has already slumped by almost 8% from last year, according to UCAS.

Students tend to live in shared properties, where they have a ready-made social life and so it is an easy choice to go to the off licence, rather than the pub. Then they can save their money for an experience like dancing in a club, which can’t be replicated at home.

So can pub brands regain their student audience? Studentbeans claims that brands such as Brothers cider and Smirnoff vodka are doing a good job of reaching out to students with experience-based campaigns.

The Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange involves live music events and in-store promotions in 50 countries. Meanwhile, Brothers has asked people to create a new flavour of cider through its Facebook page.

The challenge for pub brands will be tapping into students’ needs for low costs (82% are influenced by price when choosing a drink) while creating an experience that cannot be replicated within their own houses. That sounds easy, but with budgets so tight for students, it may be tricky to execute.

However, the opportunity is undeniably there for pubs. Two-thirds of students (62%) say they drink regularly, so the pubs that do get their value offer right will benefit from targeting this group of customers. It’s not too late to encourage students to feel that the pub is their heartland again, but it will take a new approach.

Latest from Marketing Week

PLEASE SIGN IN OR REGISTER. IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and inspiration that will help you develop as a marketer and leader.

Register and receive the best content from the only title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work, so we can make Marketing Week more relevant to you.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team and columnists will ask the biggest questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we will be your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Dedicated to developing your skills and helping you achieve marketing excellence. Find guidance on leadership, professional development and the latest industry jobs.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email subscriptions@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here