Jack Wallington, community director at The Student Room, an online forum for young people, claimed there are huge opportunities for marketers to make an impression on students given that their existing levels of brand loyalty are relatively low.
He pointed to a survey of The Student Room’s user base that found that beyond the technology sector, where students had a strong affinity for Apple products, attachment to other brands was minimal. For example, while Topshop and Simple came top in the fashion and skincare categories respectively, neither brand scored highly overall.
“There is a lot of room to win the hearts and minds of young people,” Wallington told the audience at the Olympia Central in London.
Referring to case studies in which brands had advertised or created content on The Student Room site, he argued that marketers should avoid patronisng young people and instead focus on providing useful information.
These brands include NatWest, which created a content hub on the site after recognising that after choosing a student account, many people stick with the same bank for the rest of their lives. NatWest therefore provided in-depth content on the benefits of its student offer and directed users to the information via competitions and online advertising.
“Young people won’t necessarily just pick the coolest brands – they’re a lot more serious than many people think,” said Wallington. “They want the facts and the detail that will allow them to make an informed decision.”