New university students favour discount vouchers at the annual freshers’ fair event. In a report by student research firm, The Beans Group, 28% found vouchers to be the most desirable and 13% thought they were the least desirable freebie given out to students just starting their course.

Branded gifts (33%) and free food (23%) were deemed the least desirable by students. Jenny Elworthy, head of marketing at Hearst Magazines UK, thought these particular findings were good news for companies that didn’t give away free food.

“There is so much activity during freshers’ week and students are bombarded with offers. Brands need to provide something relevant and valuable with longevity to cut through the noise,” Elworthy said.

Most desirable freshers freebie

Vouchers Make Brands Memorable

The favouritism shown by freshers towards vouchers was further exposed when they were asked what made brands the most memorable. The majority (71%) revealed that a good offer made more of an impact than being loud (16%) or funny (19%).

Social media appears to be the best way to engage with these young consumers outside of the freshers’ fair. When students were asked where they saw the best advertising campaigns, 19% said through the likes of Facebook and Twitter.

One common perception is that students have little in the way of a disposable income, a myth that’s shattered by the Freshers Report 2013. Last year 10% spent between £200 and £300, 28% between £100 and £200 and 29% between £50 and £100 during freshers’ week last year.

Student Spending can Maintain Momentum

What’s even better news for those targeting new students, is that 20% said they spent the same during freshers’ week as the rest of the university term. There was even 13% who disclosed they spent less in freshers’ week than at other times.

Student spend by area

Unsurprisingly, 53% of students who took part in the survey spent the most on going out during freshers’ week. Technology wasn’t so much of a priority, with 43% spending the least on this area.

Windows marketing executive at Microsoft, Lucy Needham, seemed to confirm the report’s findings. “Typically our freshers campaigns would start in June, peek in August around A-level results and finish mid-October after student loans have been received.”