They do small amounts of shopping on a frequent basis, usually buy for one person and are extremely impulsive in other words, students and young adults are convenience retailers' dream customers. But with the market saturated with products aimed at this lucrative market, it's not easy to decide which products to stock.

While every brand owner will tell you that brands are vital to shoppers, this is particularly true of young adults. "Our research shows that image is more important to the young adult age group than most. They spend a lot on clothes and are very influenced by celebrities and celebrity culture," says Vimto senior brand manager Emma Hunt.

One group that's aiming to get cut-through in the young adults market by using the cult of celebrity is the Milk Marketing Forum. "The key decision driver for young people when choosing a product is how they feel about it emotionally, rather than its rational benefits," says chairman Sandy Wilkie, who is also sales and marketing director at Robert Wiseman Dairies. "Young people's priorities centre on interests such as music, film and shopping. That's why we're using celebrities from these areas to communicate milk's credentials giving us an immediate emotional connection with young people and then educating them that milk is low in fat and is nutrient-dense."

Celebrities including Pixie Lott and Gordon Ramsay are endorsing milk as part of the group's three-year campaign. Adds Wilkie: "The challenge with getting any product endorsers on board is to always bear in mind the audience you are marketing to."

Kellogg's communications manager Paul Wheeler notes that students and young adults take no prisoners. "If they don't feel a brand is relevant to their lives, they will simply pass it by. That's a challenge for manufacturers."

Kellogg's is confident that its new Krave cereal has made a strong impact on its target 16- to 25-year-old audience. Having initially hit shelves in February, the chocolate cereal already has a 0.8% market share and is about to launch in single 30g packs aimed at the convenience sector. The company is spending £4m in 2010 to take the product straight to its audience. "You'll see Krave across university campuses, where we are sampling in halls of residence and in student unions. We're also going to have a presence at T4 on the beach and Leeds Festival," says Wheeler.

Krave also has a strong Facebook presence, and its page features a 'choc exchange' initiative, which encourages students to swap virtual chunks of Krave chocolate for 'money can't buy' prizes such as gig tickets and a walk-on part in Hollyoaks.

Another brand adopting social media is Rowntree's Randoms. "The traditional route of just putting something on TV is no longer adequate. We talk to our consumers every day via social media," claims Nestlé UK trade communications manager Graham Walker.

It's obviously saying the right things as Randoms has more than 246,000 Facebook fans and clocked up more than £13m-worth of sales since its launch last year. "The reason behind Randoms' success is the insight that we had before we launched the product," says Walker. "It showed us that young adults crave spontaneity rather than predictability and safety. This is reflected in the brand's personality and sense of humour."

Pizza brand Chicago Town also uses humour to appeal to students. Earlier this year the company ran an on-pack promotion through which consumers could send off for a knife and fork hybrid, comically named the Knork. "It's not enough for a brand to be simply well-known students are also looking for innovation and surprise," says brand manager Richard Cooper.

Vimto Soft Drinks is hoping to enthral 14- to 18-year-olds with three new Sunkist flavours, which launched as part of the product's re-branding in March. "We've added summer fruits, orange & passionfruit and lemon & lime," says brand manager James Nichols. "Teens are all about making a statement and our cans definitely have standout on shelf. The design is a pattern you might see on board shorts and bikinis. It will link with the feel-good holiday vibe."

The brand has online activity planned as well as ads on pre-recorded programmes, and is in talks with MTV, E4 and ITV2.

Both Sunkist and sister brand Vimto are sponsoring under-18 club nights where they will be sampling their products, and Sunkist is even letting students take part in the design of its next marketing campaign.

Beverage Brands brand controller Deborah Carter concurs that the way to crack the young adults market is by communicating with them on their own level. "The 18- to 25-year-old consumer is WKD's prime market so we run student campaigns every year. In the past we've done a 'win your rent for the rest of the year' competition, and 'win a mini beer fridge for your student flat'. It's about speaking to them in their language."

Meanwhile, VK is busy working the festival circuit. "We kicked off our Endless Summer VKend in May, touring 10 cities across the country in a VK bus, plus we've invested £3m this year into ad campaigns," says Global Brands brands manager for core brands, Kate Hodson. "We're patronising Live Nation festivals including Download and Global Gathering."

Carlsberg's Tuborg brand, which targets 18- to 24-year-olds, is also making its mark at the festivals. "Tuborg has a large number of live music sponsorships and tie-ups including official beer of the Glastonbury Festival, official beer of the Leeds, Reading and Wireless festivals, as well as Bestival, Hard Rock Calling and Global Gathering," says Adam Withrington, Carlsberg UK's communications manager .

So the brands are doing their bit, but how should retailers attract this vital audience? The Continuity Company (TCC) specialises in licensing schemes and believes that independents can use timely events to draw young adults to their store. It is to run a scheme with Spar whereby customers can collect tokens to exchange for Shrek toys to coincide with the launch of the movie.

"Sports and music appeal to young adults," says TCC director of special events, Europe, Chris Taylor. "Retailers could go to their local box office or cinema and buy tickets for a popular sports event or movie. Then they could put a sign up saying 'spend £5 and be entered into a draw to win tickets'."

If you have the capacity, then a food-to-go area can also be a draw, according to Rustlers manufacturer Kepak. Marketing director John Armstrong says: "If you have space for a coffee station and a few chairs then that gives people a totally different reason to go to the store. You need to find something that's not too costly in terms of training staff and waste."

Special occasions are another area where retailers can win over young adults. "Retailers can make up packs or meal deals that will resonate with young people, for example, barbecue packs with meat, baps and ketchup, or festival packs with VK and snacks," says Hodson. "A cocktail kit could also work really well, or maybe a deal with beers and lime."

Of course, the best way to find out what will and won't work at your store is by talking to the young adults who shop there. "Retailers need to be far more personal with students," says Taylor. "Get people to try out new products or incentivise them to complete a quick questionnaire.

"The retailers who crack this market will be the ones who succeed in building up a relationship with student and young adult shoppers."
retailer’s view
"Our store is near Newcastle University, so young adults are key customers. Alcohol is a big seller, as well as food to go and frozen pizzas anything that's convenient. "We have a three-week promotional cycle and often offer beer multipacks. We recently ran an 18-pack of Carlsberg for £10 and they sold so well that even our wholesaler ran out. We chat to the students and find out from them about any big student nights coming up so we can stock up, or offer timely promotions. We also encourage them to let us know if there are products they would like to see. "Come September we'll be running lots of promotions for Freshers' Week. I usually send a couple of staff out with leaflets showing grocery and alcohol discounts. Wiseman Dairies will be supporting us with a 'two for £2' offer on 2ltr milk. If we can get students in the first week, we've got them for the term." Duncan Turner, Londis Morpeth Street, Newcastle
ones to watch...
Heineken UK's Jacques Cider with Fruit is hitting the high streets with a new campaign aimed at young females. The brand has partnered up with a series of fashion retailers, including River Island and Benefit Cosmetics, to offer samples at various retail events until September. The campaign will be supported by press and online advertising. 
tel: 0131 528 1000 

Hit R 'n' B artist Usher and the new stars of the A-Team movie are the latest faces to support the Make Mine Milk campaign. "It's fantastic that they will be using their huge popularity to tell the British public that milk is low in fat, healthy and is a product that everyone should have in their fridge," says Milk Marketing Forum chairman Sandy Wilkie. 
tel: 01355 598573 

Krave on 
Krave is to be available in 30g sachets in clip strips of 10 from the end of August. "We don't normally launch npd into the independent channel until it is proven in market. However, we made a conscious decision to take a different approach with this product," says head of specialty accounts Chris McLaughlin. rrp: 30p 
tel: 0161 869 2000 

TV times 
Vimto is hoping to reach young people by sponsoring the online airings of young people's favourite TV shows Glee and Hollyoaks. The soft drink is also running a national TV campaign and advertising on music website Spotified. It will be stepping up sampling opportunities, too, by sponsoring under-18 club nights. 
tel: 01925 220 122 

Prepare for lift-off 
Following its Foamy Gnome on-pack promotion for Randoms, Nestlé is launching a Foamy Gnome hot air balloon. Consumers will be able to interact via Facebook and the balloon will land in a mystery location at the beginning of August, where a random adventure will take place. Randoms is being supported by a £6.5m campaign this year. 
tel: 0800 121 4688