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Students of 2023 - 5 key trends




Welcome to 2023! A year that we hope will be straightforward and understated, but also full of excitement.


Rightly or wrongly the final digit of the year counting upwards always seems to create a sense of change and new beginning. Whilst in our world we are very much in mid season of the academic year, we felt that this was a good time to share our thoughts on what the next 12 months will bring for the student market and how it will affect the approach that brands should take - here are 5 things to look out for:


1. 'Relatable' is the new 'Aspirational'

OK… Kim, Kourtney and Khloe (Kardashian if you didn’t know) aren’t going to disappear into thin air, but the influencer space is changing and there is a clear increase in the youth market following influencers that they can truly relate to. Working with diverse content creators also plays into this. This is demonstrated by the rise and acknowledgement of apps such as BeReal.


In fact, according to Voxburner 81% of 16-24 year olds prefer to follow influencers that share their values, with creativity and entrepreneurship among the qualities Gen Z respects the most.


This demonstrates how imperative it is for brands to present themselves in a way that is genuinely relatable, where they don’t take themselves too seriously.

As a side note, we often see a need for brands to keep tabs on the influencer space even if they don’t actively engage in it, it gives a steer on how best to engage with a target audience.


2. Look backwards in order to move forwards

What goes around, comes around, from the re-rise of cargo trousers to the return of Uggs, this generation loves to recycle a trend. It’s not just limited to fashion either, who’d have thought Snapchat would make a comeback, but with 9 out of 10 young people on the app (According to Snapchat), just like ‘relatable becoming the new Aspirational’, young people are seeking personal, intimate connections more than ever before.

It’s for this reason too that Pinterest is cited as one of the big apps to make a name of itself once again in 2023. Pinterest reported that 445 million people use Pinterest every month to find ideas and inspire their next purchase, whilst Gen Z users are up 40% year over year.

Pinterest could be the perfect space to offer authentic and creative content, allowing your brand to be discovered next to exciting new trends.


3. Ethical is more than being sustainable

Yes sustainability is going to be a hot topic for decades to come but in this ever cynical market they want to see more than just token gestures of Keep Cups and paper straws.


This clearly isn’t to say that these initiatives aren’t needed but accusations of hypocrisy will arise if they are carried out alongside other processes that don’t meet an ethical expectation - think living wage, ethical suppliers, support of mental health initiatives.


However, sustainability and ethical living has to be balanced with affordability. Unfortunately, being environmentally conscious comes at a cost. Fast fashion giant Shein has been named the world's most popular fashion brand in 2020 (based on a report by Money.co.uk). The brand is well known for its lack of ethical practices but low price points are too tempting for its customers, especially as we grapple with the cost of living.


Which leads on nicely to our next point…


4. The Impact of the cost of living

The student market is one of the most robust markets around, in previous crises and recessions the level of spend has maintained and its proven to be a lucrative market to engage with.


This time however is slightly different, in the past the challenge has been that the level of income has dropped across the board where students' income was maintained. Now the student income per capita has stayed pretty much the same and the cost of products and services has increased. That said it is still an active, early adopting and engaged market. It's now just more important than ever that you keep your brand at the forefront by demonstrating real value. Think about how your brand is supporting students during this crisis and shout about it.


5. Support beyond experience

Over the past few years Universities and Students Unions have put major emphasis on the experience that students have at University. While this will always continue, there appears to be a significant shift to focusing on what the output is of the investment of time and money that students have to put in for their higher education.


This may seem an obvious point and it’s something that will have been on the radar of Institutions and Unions over the years. However due to the challenging job market and the expense of University, there’s even more of a need to justify that there is a return on the tuition fee investment.


Strengthening links with the community, careers fairs, offering experiences to boost skills, replicating the working environment and providing work-integrated learning opportunities are all ways institutions are supporting its students. Can your brand play a role here?

So, let’s see what 2023 has in store for us all. Wishing you a happy and prosperous one!

For more information on how we can support you with student campaigns, drop us a message: info@thecrowdagency.com


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