Brands embrace students’ return

Drinks with mixing potential favoured by young adult drinkers

A LUCRATIVE period is fast approaching for brands which target young adult consumers.

Next month thousands of 18-24 year olds will flock to their alma mater in time for the new university and college term.
And lining up to give them a warm welcome in the student unions and bars are a host of brands for which the freshers’ period is one of the most profitable of the calendar year.
These include Sourz, the speciality liqueur brand distributed by Maxxium UK, which gears much of its activity towards the student market.
“CGA estimates that freshers’ week is worth £667 million to the on-trade, so it’s important for outlets to stock the right brands for the student consumer,” said Peter Sandstrom, marketing director at Maxxium UK.
“It’s important to engage them [students] when they are all out together in a fun and emotive way, demonstrating that we understand them and can provide an unrivalled experience.”
Fun has long been integral to the marketing mix for WKD, the stalwart of the flavoured alcoholic beverage scene which invests heavily in marketing and promotions to retain its position at the top of the RTD pile.
Marketing director Debs Carter said freshers’ week is a crucial time for brands and outlets.
“The start of the autumn term is a key sales period and a chance for operators to impress the new academic intake in the quest for repeat business,” she said.
“Students are very promotion-conscious, so it’s important to appeal to this mindset, although this can be done as much through added-value activities as it can through price.
“WKD is offering a fast-track way to impress academically this autumn: instant graduation!

Increasingly, young adults are looking to ‘discover’ brands, then tell their friends.

“With our tongue in cheek promotion, consumers can revel in the praise of educational achievement without the commitment of years of study.”
But what kind of drinks will students be favouring this term, and what marketing methods can brands best employ to win their favour?
According to VC2, the firm behind speciality spirit range Stiffys, Boe gin, and Paris Rose vodka liqueur, young adult consumers are turned on by drinks which can be consumed in a variety of ways.
“Drinks which offer flexibility and aren’t one-dimensional are working,” said the company’s co-founder Graham Coull.
“Our products can be consumed straight, long or as part of a cocktail and it’s this promise of variety to our consumers that 18-24 year olds find appealing.
“This is something we encourage as it not only leads to more responsible consumption, it also increases revenue for the wholesaler and publican.”
It’s a view shared by John Mills, boss of InterContinental Brands, who said speciality drinks have been “doing outstandingly well over the past years” due to their versatility.
“There has been lots of innovation and young adult drinkers have found new and interesting ways of drinking some of the more established products,” he told SLTN.
“For instance, Messer Schmitt herbal schnapps is really flying.
“Young adults are drinking it over ice, with cola or with an energy drink. And at 22% ABV it’s not too strong.”
As for marketing, social media continues to be an effective medium for brands as they seek to connect with their target audience, though brands like Sourz and WKD continue to see the value in more traditional platforms like TV, radio and press advertising.
“Sourz has a 355,000-strong Facebook fanbase and we have found that connecting with our community online has opened up new communication with our customers, allowing them to connect collaborate and engage with the brand in a more instant and relevant way,” Sandstrom added. “This can be done through cocktail naming competitions, exclusive launch news and special offers for Facebook fans.”