Opinions differ on students they are the “Marmite” of customer segments, you either love them or hate them. Students can be highly lucrative customers for any pub and you should consider making your pub student friendly.
Remember, whether you have a large or small student population in your area, when they first arrive they are staying for 3 or 4 years and that many students go on to settle in the place where they studied. Graduates will often continue using the same venues they enjoyed whilst under-graduates and can become long term customers.
Students Spend Well
If you aren’t sure whether they are a set of customers you want to bother with, here are some interesting figures researched by the brewers of Carling.
The average male student will spend £415 per term on alcohol and the average female £290 per term.
Of the two million students in higher or further education in the UK, 90% of them are aged 18-24, of these students 87% live away from home and 70% of them come from above average income families.
When they leave their campus, students are usually going shopping or seeking entertainment and they spend on average nearly a third of their money on entertainment. Cinema going (46% of them go once a month) and clubbing (46% go at least once a week) are popular activities, but by far the most time is spent in pubs and bars.
For the majority of students the time they spend at college or university will be the first time that they have been away from home for any substantial period and outside parental control. Nowadays they fund their student life with credit cards and student loans so the traditional pass-time of students (carousing and drinking) continues unabated.
Even though they are relatively cash-rich, students love freebies so save some of those promotional tee-shirts and other goodies to give away to them. Free food with their drinking always goes down well as does a menu that has lower priced and sharing dishes.
Students will often form life-long friendships during their time in further education and these friends are very important to them during that time. Most students like to socialise and go pubbing with a group of friends and this can be great news for your pub, but only if you get it right for them.
Getting It Right For Students
Creating the right atmosphere is essential and being away from home for the first time means they often want to feel safe, cosy and welcomed. If you can, try and create areas that are relaxed and informal; create a non-threatening environment for them to socialise in. Try and avoid restrictions such as dress codes as this will be the first time they are dressing themselves without mum and dad’s disapproving glares.
Be ready to accept the weird and wonderful and laid back attitudes to dress, language and manners, but just like any customer you must ensure they behave within acceptable limits – the last thing you want is to alienate your staff or other customers by treating them more leniently than non-students.
Music plays an important part of any young person’s life, be they students or not, and getting it right for them is very important. Live music or very loud background music at one end of the spectrum and low-level music at the other that allow them to chat and pontificate on the new world they are going to build; you have to judge the balance you want to achieve.
Students want to have fun during their time away from home (when not burning the midnight oil with that end of term essay or cramming for their end of year exams) so make sure that your entertainment programme appeals to them.
Top Tip – Take a trawl around Facebook to see what’s “happening/sick/wicked/reem” (or whatever they’re calling it this week) with students in your area for an idea of what will go down well – you’ll find all sorts of student groups and plenty of discussion going on about their social lives.