Brought up on the mean streets of Elgin and educated at Aberdeen and Napier Universities; Chris has written on everything from exorcisms to the drinks industry for a number of publications. After a spell in advertising and marketing he is now editor of Scotcampus – Scotland’s largest freesheet for the 16-30 age group. When he isn’t writing, editing or commuting he’s normally trying to convince his girlfriend they really don’t need a cat. Ever.
I’ll be honest here the student news elements of Scotcampus have always been more than a little ‘light’. This had a lot to do with the fact that as a national title we found students in Dundee weren’t interested in what was happening at say Napier in Edinburgh and vice versa. But with a little more probing, polling and pestering over the years we soon discovered that this lack of student news was actually what the majority of students wanted. Stories about keeping the library open longer, how the rugby team fared or who the president of the NUS is, just didn’t seem to register as important (or interesting) to the vast majority of young people who read our title – no matter where they were from or what they studied.
Cutting to the chase it would be fair to say we found out pretty quickly that ‘students are people too’. And by that I mean they do not define who they are by what they do any more than other demographics. Targeting a stereotype will get you nowhere.
University is a time in life when many who attend become a lot more conscious of what they want and who they are. It’s also a time where people will start to show strong brand loyalty and spend a disproportionate amount of their money on socialising and entertainment. As such students represent a relatively lucrative source of income for certain businesses – provided they know which sort of student they plan on targeting.
Scotcampus is coming up for its tenth birthday next year and as the paper has grown, so has the marketing and promotional side of the business. Much of the work we do is with both Blue Chip businesses and smaller Scottish companies looking to target the youth market. And it would be fair to say many of the clients we deal with have the same misguided preconception of students many of us are guilty of.
Strictly speaking there is no one way of targeting students which works ‘best’. But a good start to any campaign aimed at that market is not to assume that you’re looking at a bunch of grubby bookworms who spend their days drinking discounted cider, messing about on Twitter and protesting about the fate of the planet.
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