If you haven’t already signed up, you can register to receive for Chapter 2 here, before the full report is published in April.
Having taught, and later worked behind-the-scenes at universities and colleges, I’ve got a good grip on the way the student experience works from both sides of the fence. When they work in synergy – with providers providing and students studying – we see real societal benefits.
And when students enjoy their course and have fun alongside it, they emerge as highly valuable and well-rounded adults. There’s nothing quite like the intelligent, curious, pragmatic graduate that we’ve seen coming through the Gen Z ranks over the past few years.
Which is why it’s so important to protect and support their lifestyles during this cost of living increase. The money they spend during their studies not only contributes massively to the economy, but it also teaches them as much about real life as it does in the classroom.
Lifestyle is one of the more evocative terms for students. For many, it’s a big part of the reason they choose university in the first place. Ask any graduate about their experience and they’ll often speak first to the life lessons and the friendships forged, before they tell you about their course or tutor. And money is so intrinsically tied up in this as to be inseparable. Those life lessons will usually include first jobs, first budgets, first rents due – and those friendships are forged in social occasions which, naturally, need to be paid for.
So when the cost of living is rising, affecting a demographic which is less financially flexible than most, we need to pay attention to the domino effect. The good news is that we’re talking about a demographic which is practical by nature – a practicality now manifesting itself in entrepreneurialism, astuteness, and high financial literacy. But those are talents which aim to redress the balance and reduce the impact of inflation, not to conjure up disposable income. More than two-thirds have less of it, despite their impressive efforts and, as a result, another third are living a different university life to the one they imagined.
You, as a brand hoping to do business with this market, need to be aware of the nuance. They still want to buy all of the things that traditionally come with university (the socialising, the stationery, the student home) but they need to find new ways to buy them. So what’s the solution?
Is it experiential marketing – providing added value beyond the core purchase?
Is it smarter sales – targeting your discounts to provide cheaper buys at key dates in the calendar?
Is it bundling – meeting several needs under the same purchase, like social shopping events?
At the same time that we’re watching the cost of living increase, we mustn't miss that student expectations are going up too. We need to make sure that they can still have the experience that they’ve dreamt of – for their sake and ours.
To read more, download Chapter 2 (Lifestyle & Spending) of the UCAS Student Lifestyle Report 2023 from tomorrow. It’s got the answers and analysis you need to plan your Gen Z engagement throughout this year and next. If you haven't already, you can sign up here and you’ll get it straight to your inbox, along with each chapter as it’s released and the final report in April.