So your brand has a loyal Gen Z consumer base in the UK or US – where do you head next? Here’s our guide to taking your youth marketing strategy to the most lucrative student markets in Europe.
First stop: Germany
As the European country with the highest number of university students, Germany is a strong contender as you look to expand your youth marketing strategy. Undergrads here typically study for three years, with Masters programs running from 1-2 years, giving you plenty of opportunities to establish loyalty with students throughout their degrees.
Student life in Germany is pretty full-on – students are expected to put the work into assignments, and teaching style is rigorous. This perhaps explains why students in Germany prefer a slightly more low-key social life; think going to the pub for a drink and a chat rather than wild parties. Of course, students are still involved in the usual range of events, clubs and activities on offer at all universities. There’s a significant international element to German university life: 13% of students are international and over a quarter (28%) of German natives will take the opportunity to study abroad.
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German students tend to live at home – just 30% move to a different Federal State, and those who do will find their own accommodation independently of the university – either by going with a student accommodation company or by setting up a flatshare.
Students in Germany are in a strong financial position compared to their counterparts across Europe. Undergraduate fees are up to €250 per semester, and there are ample loans and financial support systems in place, such as BAföG loans – which function half as a zero-interest loan and half as grant money. According to a study by the Deutsches Studentenwerk, the average student income is around €918 and outgoings amount to around €819 per month. Income can be any combination of financial aid, part-time work, and financial support from parents – 88% of German students receive this.
As you hone your marketing strategy for the German student market, bear in mind their usual monthly outgoings. Rent takes up the biggest portion of their spend, with food & drink, transport and clothes following closely behind.
Up next: France
With 2.53 million students, the French student demographic follows closely behind Germany as the second-most student-rich country in Europe – and over half of French students intend to study a masters, meaning you’ll have plenty of time to engage with them over five years.
Undergraduate courses in France set students back by just €170 per year, with a slightly higher fee of €243 per year for two-year masters programs. There is a program of financial aid from the French government, which is paid monthly for the 10 months of term-time – this covers the essentials as well as giving students some disposable income to play with.
Similarly to the UK and US, French students typically move out to start studying – 30% of students under 21 live with their parents, but the rest can be found in campus accommodation and private flatshares, paying around €430 a month. In Paris, this is significantly higher at €637. This is likely students’ first time living away from home, and they’ll be on the lookout for discounts on homewares and utilities, as well as things to do in their new area.
It’s easy for students to get out and about, with heavily subsidized housing and restaurants, and a wide network of sports facilities and cultural activities at most universities. Social and leisure activities usually cost around €85 per month.
As with Germany, French Gen Zs take their studies seriously – there are more classes per week here than any other country, and students prioritize studies over social life – there’s a strong appetite for tech that will enhance the studying experience, and students typically pay around €34 per month towards phone and internet bills.
When targeting the French student demographic, be aware that the biggest slice of their income is from paid work (33%), followed by public financial aid (32%) and family support (25%). Unlike in the UK, for example, where there is one large termly loan drop, French students are more likely to receive their income little and often throughout the month.
And finally: the Netherlands
The Netherlands has a small but powerful market of 875,000 students – but they’re likely to be students for a lot longer than their other European counterparts, because it’s considered the norm to do a masters degree after completing an undergraduate course. Tuition fees are slightly higher than in France and Germany – at €2,143 for the 2020-21 academic year – but there is a full loan available to cover this, with an additional loan available to students who work more than 56 hours per month.
Universities in the Netherlands don’t tend to be campus-based, so students are fully immersed in the town or city from the day they move in. There are a variety of communal-style living options available, from university housing, student houses and student apartments – typically with a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 12 roommates.
Student life is vibrant and exciting in the Netherlands – teaching is relaxed and friendly, with a mix of practical and theoretical courses and a heavy emphasis on group work. Students can join student organizations – focused around hobbies, common interests, faculties and nationality – and in a nod to the US Greek House system, many organizations have club houses with their own set of traditions. Societies are considered an integral part of the uni experience – and with a whole new town or city to explore, students are guaranteed a healthy social life.
We’ve helped brands all over the world to connect with the European student market. Are you next? Get in touch today to discuss your European student strategy.
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