May 02, 2022

16 Tips to Market Your Restaurant to College Students

If you want to market your restaurant to college students, you may be in a difficult situation. As students are a very unique demographic, reaching out to them can be all the more difficult. However, with proper planning and knowing your audience, you can enjoy a stable income and stable guest visits. Students, after all, are powerful consumers. Knowing how to market to students is a whole different story. 

Why Market Your Restaurant to College Students? 

Students have a high purchase power. It may not seem so, especially as a stereotypical student is broke. However, the last decade has seen a sharp increase in part-time employed students, student entrepreneurs, as well as those that monetize their social networks. Being able to live comfortably and make some money while you study has become a reality for many students. 

How to Market Your Restaurant? 

Marketing your restaurant to college students is a bit different than marketing to some other demographics. Namely, students are a very age-stable group. They tend to have strict habits (not necessarily disciplined, but rather social-life-related habits), can be highly ceremonial, and have good purchasing power. Furthermore, they are stressed and seek a way to vent out. 

All this means that once you’ve got on top of the first round of marketing, you will be able to stay on top for as long as you can recognize new streams in the market segment and learn how to utilize them. The student segment stays the same year after year, but new trends within the segment emerge every semester or so. Here are some tips on how to market to college students: 

Offer Take Away 

Students are busy and like to be on the go. Offering takeaway food at discounted prices means that you will be able to: 

  • Sell more menu items, 
  • Expand your target group to a lower income bracket, 
  • Will be able to accommodate students of different lifestyles, and 
  • Will be able to support their daily life that revolves around a busy college schedule. 

Be Unique

Be unique and constantly seek new ways to leave a good impression on them. Students receive a lot of information on a daily basis, so being able to remind them of your brand means the world to your revenue and visits. MyTownTutors, for example, has tons of jokes and wordplay that you can print out on napkins and bring a smile to your guests’ faces. Being unique does not mean expensive interior redecoration, but it rather means refreshing your offer and paying attention to details that students would love. 

Offer Green To Go Containers 

Students are very eco-conscious. Nicely printed to-go containers that are recyclable or even compostable is a great way to show that you, too, care about the environment. Invest a bit of cash and see how it goes. Paper straws, compostable utensils, and bring-your-own mug days have brought in more revenue than you can imagine. 

Offer Delivery 

As students are very mobile, they also like to spend evenings at home and enjoy while their food is being delivered. Offer delivery on the campus or within a 3-mile radius and allow students to order through phone, text, or even social networks. Not only do you expand your target group to a broader location, but you also increase the turnover in your kitchen (the tables, the to-go, the delivery). 

Be Fresh

Be fresh with your looks. An occasional makeover inspiration never hurts nobody, so use the empty season (summer and winter holidays) to freshen up your space and decorate to reflect the seasons. This is the best way to offer something new every semester without overspending. 

Be on Uber Eats 

Uber Eats is often seen as too expensive for most restaurants. However, offering food that is simple to make with a few ingredients and with a high markup (think Italian) is all you need to ensure wider visibility and one more stream of revenue. Make sure you advertise it in your windows and on your receipts. 

Research the Audience 

Understanding your audience is the best thing you can do and the best way to invest your money. Although students have stable habits, the trends within the segment can be problematic to understand. The best way to address the issue at hand is to hire specialists to assess the market and, together with professional writers from, develop good content for your social networks. This brings us to the last point: 

Be on Social Networks

Being on social networks is important beyond your wildest dreams. As communication and information-sharing hubs, social networks can help you market, display, inform, and gather information on your target audience better than any marketing agency could. There are several social networks that you may want to join: 

  • Instagram - very visual, 
  • YouTube - instructional and informational, 
  • Facebook - informational, great for ad campaigns, 
  • TikTok - short-form videos are great for bloopers, vine-like video content, and visual content in general. 

Other Tips To Market Your Restaurant to College Students

  1. Offer vegetarian food, 
  2. Offer vegan food, 
  3. Offer Keto food,
  4. Offer Gluten-free options, 
  5. Offer hangover breakfast
  6. Make sure you label your allergens, 
  7. Offer regular discounts, 
  8. Establish happy hour during weeknights and weekends, and
  9. Grab every chance to increase your revenue. 

Final Considerations

Being able to run a restaurant is a result of experience, patience, and skill with knife and grill. However, being able to run a restaurant close to campus means being able to create an experience that you know students will love. This means being unique, fresh and dedicated to both their stomachs and the environment. Follow our tips to ensure your restaurant is full of students and not just the kind that wants to get wasted. 


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