The CGA Student Report 2012 found that undergraduates spend around £3.2 billion on nights out in the course of a year, accounting for 10% of all on-trade serves during term time.
The report, which was compiled in association with NUS Services for student unions, also found that contemporary students are a key market for premium brands, despite their reputation for frugal spending.
“Students are traditionally painted as a fairly basic bunch only interested in the cheapest products, but our research found quite the opposite,” said Kylie Poole of CGA.
“The modern student population is increasingly diverse with a growing proportion seeking to indulge their luxury tastes on a limited budget.
“Our research suggests that certain student types will trade up whenever they can and have a sharp awareness of premium products, often seen as an occasional treat.”
The report, which surveyed more than 2500 students, also identified a potential gap in the market for operators.
Although the traditional student ‘big night out’ is said to be as popular as ever, the research found students are now more likely to go out at weekends than during the week.
And ‘low-tempo’ occasions, such as trips to the pub, are said to be on the increase.
Poole said the report was compiled in response to client demand for insight into what is a traditionally fickle market.
“Students are a critical market for many suppliers but their attitudes and behaviours are notoriously fast changing,” she said.
“Our report confirms that students today are very different to the old stereotype: their tastes and preferences are highly sophisticated and they are demanding more from their on-trade experiences than ever before.”