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Freshers Week and beyond: why being student-friendly can help boost bar sales  

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Throughout September and October, university students flock back to towns and cities, with Freshers Week’s taking place up and down the country.  

These ‘welcome weeks’ can provide a great opportunity for venues to introduce themselves to the student-crowd and can be a welcome boost for businesses. 

In this article, we explore how venues can tap into the student opportunity through better understanding of the drinking habits of young adults, ways to engage with students and how being student-friendly can help business boom during Fresher's Week and beyond.   

Drinking habits of young adults 

As discussed previously, the drinking habits of younger people are different to previous generations with many drinking less or going sober completely. A 2018 study published by BMC Public Health found more than 25% of young people classed themselves as “non-drinkers.”  

Over the last few years, more young folks have taken to practicing ‘mindful drinking,’ citing health concerns and costs as key motivators. This has led to an increase in low and no alcohol alternatives becoming popular, with sales of low and no alcohol jumping up by 21% since 2018.  

Non-alcoholic beers continue to dominate the category, but other alcohol-free alternatives have been finding their time in the spotlight, with non-alcoholic wine sales up by 9% and non-alcoholic spirits up 10% in 2022.  

However, the desire to go out and seek new experiences is still high. Research from PROOF Insight found that 45% of new students are likely to try new venues and 34% have said they will order drinks they can’t make at home. 

Highlighting your low and no alcohol offering will be key to inviting a bigger crowd of freshers into your venue over the student season – demonstrating inclusivity for non-drinkers who provide a key revenue stream. 

How to attract students to your venue  

Although there are some changes in drinking habits, value for money and promotions/discounts are still among the top five drivers for choice of venue among 18-24-year-olds, according to PROOF Insight.   

Student-friendly offers 

Students tend to go out more often, but aim to spend less when they do so creating student-specific deals that can be a great way to entice them to visit your venue Advertising these earlier in the week or during those quieter hours can help ensure you have a steady flow of business and drive more footfall through your venue beyond the busier weekend and evening scene.  

Get on social media 

In the digital-age, students are more likely to find out about your venue through the likes of Instagram and TikTok. Advertise your student-friendly discounts or events on your key social media channels.  

Younger adults can also be enticed how ‘Instagrammable’ your venue is. Young people want memorable experiences and if your venue is a vibe that will make people want to take loads of photos and share to their socials is a great way to get some free publicity and drive footfall. 


While money saving deals and offers will help draw people in, no one can surpass the temptation of winning some freebies. Whether that’s a free meal, or vouchers – you'll be bound to get more people in with fun competitions.  

Bristol-based club giants Motion and Lakota have advertised some great competition prizes catered to grab the attention of new and returning students for Freshers 2023, ranging from Glastonbury tickets to free tickets to their club nights. 

Memorable experiences 

Value for money and experiences when visiting the on-trade continues to be a high priority for customers across the board. Themed nights, pub quizzes, fancy-dress parties, and hosting dedicated student nights can cater to this specific crowd. Why not tie some of these events in with the competitions you’re running to give even more motivation for people to visit? 

Why being uni student-friendly can benefit your venue 

Students between 18-24 are a key customer group for bars and clubs across the country. Research from CGA in 2021 found that the week students returned to universities, drinks sales were up at least 10% in bars across the country. 

While price is an important factor, in recent years there’s been a growing trend for students looking to get more value for their money. They are more likely to go for fewer but better-quality drinks and experiences, so be sure to highlight your premium drinks with fun cocktails and keep them in-venue for longer with fun events.  

With many students experiencing the freedom of moving away from home, they’re keen to try new venues, try new serves and ‘experience it all.’ By making your venue more student-friendly and a fun place to be, you’ll be more likely to get an increase in sales during Fresher’s Week and beyond.  

About the author

Mary McCarron

Mary looks after the majority of Matthew Clark's digital marketing comms. After a couple of years working in tech, she found her way back to the hospitality industry and can now be found talking all things cocktails, spirits, beer, softs and more across our website, social media, and other digital channels.

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