An occasion that remains fresh

Freshers’ week, or month, is still a massive opportunity for the trade, say firms

Freshers week

AS tens of thousands of students begin or return to college or university in Scotland over the coming weeks, there’s a clear-cut chance for operators to set out their stalls and garner new repeat customers for years to come as freshers’ week festivities kick off.

However, with young adults now drinking less than previous generations, is freshers’ still as important as it once was for the on-trade?

The answer, drinks firms told SLTN, is an emphatic yes.

“The young adult and student markets are hugely important to the on-trade, with research showing that almost a quarter of 18 to 21 year olds go out two to three times per week,” said Charlie Leaver, high energy brand manager at VK owner Global Brands.

“Nights out are an integral part of student culture. Plus, freshers’ celebrations often span a full month, from mid-September to mid-October, meaning this time of year is a huge opportunity for venues.”

Alisha Goodwin, brand manager at Loch Lomond Group, owner of Glen’s Vodka, reinforced that view.

She said: “As they mark the beginning of the new academic year students will likely attend more social events than usual, and research by UCAS suggests that the average spend per student is almost double during freshers’ week compared to any other week.”

To take full advantage, Goodwin reckons licensees should look to make their offers as interesting as possible with events and drinks.

“Themed events always perform well during freshers’ week and provide on-trade venues with a chance to expand their drinks selection,” she said.

“Whether it’s a toga party or themed sports evening, bars can experiment with their offering and trial a new drinks list.

“Offering daily cocktail specials or showing recommended serves through branded tent cards or back-bar chalkboards can help draw interest to new listings and keep a bar appearing trendy and exciting.”

To perfect a drinks offer with a student focus, a broad range is required and frozen drinks can provide a unique selling point in venues, according to Emma Hunt, marketing director of Vimto Out of Home, the firm behind frozen cocktail brand Fryst.

She said: “Deliciously refreshing, fun and available in a variety of flavours, frozen drinks are perfect for students.

Iced beverages offer a fantastic point of difference to attract students looking for an experience.

“No longer just a refreshing drink for kids, iced beverages offer a fantastic point of difference to attract students looking for an experience into your bar.”

And to make sure a drinks range caters to everyone coming through the doors on freshers’ week, soft drinks can’t be neglected, stated Hunt.

“With more than one in five students saying they are now teetotal, it is crucial to integrate a range of soft drinks into your regular offer to attract those looking for an alcohol-free university experience into your bar this freshers’ week,” she said.

Adrian Troy, marketing director at Barr Soft Drinks, agreed as he advised licensees that “understanding your customer base and tailoring your drinks offering accordingly is key when it comes to driving sales”.

There’s little doubt that social media has changed both the lives of young adults and how they interact with on-trade outlets over the past ten years, with apps like Instagram increasing the need for venues to be more photogenic and on point aesthetically.

And Leaver of Global Brands stated operators should embrace this trend during this year’s freshers’ week.

He said: “Venue managers should keep in mind that 51% of Generation Z [those born between the mid-1990s and early-2000s] always have their Instagram image in mind when on nights out, meaning it is key for operators to have photo opportunities within venues, such as photo booths and props – plus wi-fi so students can keep connected.”


Freshers’ top tips

  • Bars and pubs should ensure that they are fully stocked with a range of spirits and mixers to capitalise on the momentum. – Loch Lomond Group.
  • Themed events are a great idea for operators looking to elevate their night out and offer something special. – Global Brands.
  • Dispensed soft drinks allow you to offer students a huge choice, without taking up back-bar and fridge space. – Vimto Out of Home