With students being some of the most price-conscious shoppers, offering promotions as a retailer could be the deciding factor on whether a student chooses to shop at your store or not. 

Retailers should consider stocking their shelves with products, ranging from alcohol to convenient meals, which will appeal to students, while ensuring that their shops are easy to navigate to drive sales.

Alongside stocking the essentials, it’s important to keep in mind what is on trend in the wider market that students will be looking for.

For example, the rapid rise in demand for free-from snacks is making its presence felt not just in the multiples, but also at independent stores.  

Debbie King, director of commercial sales and marketing at healthier snacking brand Eat Real, explains that a large proportion of students now have health at the top of their agenda and are actively looking for healthier options in preference to traditional crisps and snacks. 

“While freshers’ week is a great time to experiment with new products and flavours, retailers should be highlighting healthier options all year round if they are to capitalise on this trend,” she adds.

Furthermore, retailers should look to stock a wide range of snacks that highlight specific dietary needs, such as free-from, or being easy to prepare. 

Cross-merchandising is also key, and King says a good way to start is by positioning snacks alongside soft drinks, or matching crisps with dips such as hummus or salsa – products that students wouldn’t necessarily think of, but will pick up if they see them. 

“Students often pick up snacks on impulse or at short notice, so displaying them close to the till will also help capitalise on those valuable last-minute sales,” she adds. 


While the trend for healthy eating continues to grow, students are also still looking for quick and convenient meals that can be prepared in a matter of minutes.

As many students shop alone, stocking affordable, single-serve snacks and meals that suit their on-the-go lifestyle is important. 

According to Kepak, one in five young adults rank microwavable meals as their preferred convenience food, and while microwaveable snacks are enjoyed around the clock, 48% are eaten at lunchtime, with a further 13% at breakfast. 

“Eighteen-to-15-year-olds are extremely brand loyal, with high repeat purchase rates,” says Monisha Singh, shopper marketing manager at Kepak.

Earlier this year, Unilever took steps to increase the appeal of Pot Noodle with the launch of an Asian Street Style brand extension. Asian Street Style comprises four varieties, including Thai Red Curry, Malaysian Laksa, Japanese Miso Noodle Soup and Vietnamese Beef Pho. 

Lena Portchmouth, brand lead for mini meals at Unilever, says hectic lifestyles mean food has to fit around jam-packed schedules, so it’s no wonder food to go is experiencing such rapid growth. 

“We know that shoppers are no longer satisfied with a sandwich or salad at lunchtime. Instead, they’re looking to try a variety of flavours as taste palettes become more adventurous,” she adds. 

Drinks aisle 

The convenience channel is a key sector for many alcohol suppliers, and within this, brands such as Jägermeister are outperforming the wider category.

The supplier recently introduced two new packs to its range, designed with convenience retailers in mind.

The Jägermeister Coolpack is a modern twist on the classic ice pack. It’s designed to help keep other products chilled while also giving consumers another way to drink Jägermeister as an ice-cold shot. Giles Mountford, category and trade marketing manager at Mast-Jaegermeister, says: “This new format is great for students who may be going to a friend’s house or getting ready for a big night out.

“The other product we have is the Ice Cold Wrap Pack. This was designed to educate consumers on how to best enjoy Jägermeister, chilled to -18 degrees.” 

Soft drinks are also important to get right, as busier lifestyles and increasingly on-the-go students mean that the market is looking for more all the time. 

Mark Bell, strategy and planning manager at Red Bull, says products that deliver added value for a range of occasions, such as multi-vitamins or protein, continue to be popular with students who need that extra energy boost, whether in a lecture or studying late at night.

“With the heightened importance placed on the health agenda over the past year and the Soft Drinks Industry Levy in place, consumers expect healthier options. Therefore, it is imperative to offer a low-calorie alternative to give consumers choice,” he adds.

Freshers’ week picks

Freshers' Week products
Jagermeister Coolpack. RRP £13
Freshers' Week products
Protein Boost. RRP £1.29
Freshers' Week products
Red Bull Coconut & Berry Edition. RRP £1.29
Freshers' Week products
Rustlers Flame Grilled Quarter Pounder. RRP £2
Freshers' Week products
Pot Noodle Asian Street Style Malaysian Laksa. RRP £1.75

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