The student market presents restaurateurs with a fresh outlook on their business and how they can make it inviting for everyone. On the one hand, you have a captive market for part of the year when students are on campus studying. What with all of the milestones during those years of study and examinations, students always seem to be having parties and meals out, and you as a business want to cash in on this. However, a surprising number of restaurateurs fail to direct their advertising efforts towards students at all due to misconceptions that students have a limited disposable income – which is not true at all.
A mistaken perception is that students have an addiction to social media and that they share everything online. If one young academic enjoys your cuisine, you imagine that a judicious tweet or Facebook post to other students will ensure that many others follow. When the student population fails to materialise, it is all too easy to imagine that your restaurant does not appeal to young people, and to not even try to target advertising towards them. This approach is a pity, because it results in lost business.
The truth is that young people are always looking for new and exciting places to socialise and interesting foods to try in their free time. Keeping in mind that the majority of students love a discount and often use this as a decider of where to eat, your first task is to offer offers to everyone carrying a student card. You could also offer graduation party discounts to groups of over twenty or thirty people so that you can drive larger groups of people that will only enhance the word of mouth advertising of your restaurant.
Bearing in mind that students are a clever bunch and will not fall for superficiality and insincerity, a great tactic is to hire student brand ambassadors to distribute flyers, coupons and samples on campus to their peers. Remember to mention all discounts and group advantages as well as offering samples of the best food you’ve got to offer that will leave a lasting impression. Strengthen your campaign even further by finding out what publications student groups read, whether paper or digital, and invest in quality promotional material that can help you reach a much larger audience.
Want to stand out from the crowd? Hold food-tasting evenings featuring international and historic dishes that will help leave a lasting impression; a satisfied student will never forget a good restaurant.
Businesses need to step away from the misconceptions around students and think of the bigger picture; these students are studying to enter well paid professions, if you provide them with great food and service that exceeds their expectations, it’s likely they will return time and time again as well as recommend you to friends and colleagues.