STUDENTS and young adults can be a fickle bunch when it comes to drinks.
Fortunately for the on-trade, at least one thing in the young adult market is said to be constant: value.
And with the latest intake of students set to descend on Scotland’s university and college towns and cities in a matter of weeks, operators have been advised to bear that in mind when it comes to their drinks offer.
“With the cost of fees, rents and living away at college and university spiralling every day, students need to be mindful how they spend their spare cash from part-time jobs and loans carefully to ensure they maintain a standard of living whilst also enjoying student life,” said Amy Ledger, marketing manager for CWF, the firm behind shot brand Lixx.
Or, as Carlo Valente, director of Stivy’s owner VC2 Brands, put it: “Students still like a deal and are pretty much open to most style of drinks if the price is right.”
Valente said drinks such as shooters and bombers remain popular with the student market, while fruit ciders “have continued to show growth through the year and show no sign of slowing”.
Experimentation with different drinks is, it seems, another trait of the age group.
A spokeswoman for Halewood Wines & Spirits said: “Young people are looking to experiment with different alcoholic beverages, and ready-to-drink cocktails are particularly popular as they offer both convenience and versatility.”
However, the range itself isn’t the only factor involved when it comes to offering value.
As with older age groups, the student market is said to be seeking experiences unique to the on-trade.
Amy Burgess, trade communications manager at Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), underlined the importance of delivering quality drinks.
“No matter the cost of the drink, pubs and bars can improve perceptions of quality among image-conscious younger people by considering the way it is served,” she said.
“This is why we have focused heavily on working with operators to help them to offer ‘the perfect serve’, which focuses on making sure that the drink not only looks perfect but also tastes great as a means of encouraging customers to order additional drinks.”
Debs Carter, marketing director, alcohol, at WKD parent company SHS Drinks, agreed.
“Sharing experiences with their friends is definitely a big factor for this age group and the key for licensees to attracting them is to offer them an experience they can’t get at home,” she said. “This could range from bringing in a good quality DJ to create a vibrant atmosphere to holding themed events and harnessing key calendar occasions such as Halloween, Christmas and bank holiday weekends.”
Themed events were also highlighted by Ledger at CWF, who said they can help outlets to stand out from their competitors.
And she stressed the importance of utilising digital media to promote any such events.
“Social media is very important to this audience and thought should be given about how to communicate with students through this channel,” said Ledger.
“Both Facebook and Twitter are effective for promoting special offers and new drinks menus, both of which appeal to this audience. Tailored promotions around key events will work well.
“Work with the student union at your local university or college to ensure that details of your establishment and any social media sites are promoted to the students at the beginning of term and through any communication materials issued throughout the term.”
This was echoed by the spokeswoman at Halewood, who argued that an “active presence” on social media can pay dividends for outlets “from promoting competitions to positive reviews that will help to retain and grow their customer base”.