Group of three students sitting outside

Why offering student
discounts can be
a smart move

Who doesn't love a good discount? Offering student discounts can be a smart investment in your future (loyal) customer base. More and more, we're seeing well-known brands and chains run special promotions for students.

It's also a smart move for small businesses to offer student discounts. In this article, we'll explain why and show you how to make it a profitable part of your business.

Limited budget

Chances are, you were once a student yourself. Exceptions aside, life as a student typically isn't flush with cash. You're busy with your studies and may or may not have a part-time job. Yet, students also need to get haircuts, they like to do fun things every now and then, they book beauty treatments or grab something tasty to eat.

Research shows that students tend to fall at the bottom of the income ladder, meaning they have to make it to the end of the month with less money than other young adults.

Brand loyalty

Offering a student discount is a smart way to grab students' attention. Other studies show that 97% of students are likelier to check out a business offering such a discount. More importantly, over 75% of students feel loyal to that business after graduating. Thus, offering a discount today is an investment in your customer base of tomorrow.

So, offering a student discount is a simple, yet effective way to reach students and build long-term loyalty.

Smart Entrepreneurship

The win-win nature of this strategy is evident in other respects as well. Students, in virtually every country, are dealing with significant student debt and, as mentioned earlier, rank low on the financial ladder. Offering a student discount could also be seen as giving something back to the community. Of course, you don't want to run at a loss by offering student discounts, but the overall perception of your business increases when people see that you are making this gesture for your customers.

Getting started

Here are some tips that have been implemented by entrepreneurs who work with Vev. Feel free to put your own spin on them:

  • Student Happy Hours - Offer a fixed/percentage discount during certain time slots. Similar to the "happy hour" in a bar, many hair salons and barbers apply this concept during quiet times. For instance, from Monday to Thursday between 10:00 and 15:00.
  • Theme Week - Align with major moments throughout the year. Just before the holidays, graduation weeks, or around the "back to school" period. Some massage salons, for example, offer a discount at the beginning and end of the school year to start or finish the school year in a "zen" manner.
  • Student Ambassadors - Surround your business with a few handy students who want to earn extra money. In exchange for a "kickback," they can encourage other students to order/reserve from your business on your behalf. We've seen sandwich shops on Vev experiment with this concept, where a physical card must be turned in to receive the discount.
  • Achievement Discount - A fun promotion where, for example, a good report card can earn an extra item or discount. One driving school offered a free introductory lesson if the student could present a good report card.
  • Student Day - From well-known pizza chains to hairdressers. A tried-and-true concept to boost your revenue on a day that is typically slow, with a discount specifically for students. You can offer the discount weekly, monthly, or even once a year.
  • Collaboration Discount - A party clothing rental, nail stylist, and hair salon joined forces leading up to a large annual summer party at the university in their city. Students could go to the party looking their best and benefit from a 15% discount on both the rental of dresses/party clothes, getting their nails done, and getting their hair done, all by showing a printed discount card. Collaborating with fellow business owners in the area or street can thus be a smart way to set up a special discount promotion for students at a relevant time.

Determining Discount

Naturally, you don't want to run at a loss by offering student discounts. At the same time, you also want to avoid appearing stingy if the discount practically amounts to nothing.

Research on Vev showed that business owners typically offer between 10% and 20% on service treatments. Here are some tips to determine your discount percentage (or amount):

  • Competitive Analysis - See if businesses offer similar and existing student discount promotions.
  • Try it Out - Announce it on a small scale and start testing with offering student discounts. After 1, 2, or 3 months, you assess and decide whether to continue offering the discount.
  • No Discount, But Something Extra - You don't have to give a discount, but you can also do something extra for students. Consider a 10-minute scalp massage during a hairdressing treatment or offering free extra toppings on a hamburger.
  • Selected Products/Treatments - The discount doesn't necessarily have to apply to your entire range. Some hairdressers on Vev, for example, do offer the discount on regular cutting treatments, but not on (more expensive) color treatments.

Promotion and validity

Offering a student discount should fit your business and thus forms part of your marketing plan. If you decide to go ahead with it, you can list it as a product on your Vev page, and explicitly mention in the description that only students can take advantage of this offer.

You can then promote it via social media, make sure you get on lists from schools/universities in your area, or promote it through word-of-mouth. Be careful with expensive marketing agencies that offer services to bring your offer to the attention of "10,000s" of students. Only use these services judiciously.

Finally, as a small business owner, you naturally don't want to see abuse of student discounts. You could ask for a student card, or have students book exclusively via their school/university email address. Alternatively, you could stipulate that the student discount is only valid up to a certain age limit, for instance, 25 years.

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