When it comes to marketing to students, as a target audience they have proven to be an unusual breed unto themselves. They’re young, smart, tech-savvy and trend setting. They are also a broke and picky lot.

But, sometime very soon in the near future, they will be making a lot of money AND purchasing big ticket items. In this interesting interview, Atle Skalleberg of StudentUniverse suggests to marketers that the time to make win this audience over is now.

StudentUniverse, a technology company that provides students with exclusive deals; student travel discounts and student airfare deals has of late seen an influx of discounts from major tech companies like (hello, Microsoft and Apple!) thanks to the back-to-school season. Buying a MacBook through the site will save you—if you’re a student—an extra 3% over Apple’s student rate.

According to Skalleberg, students are among the most misunderstood, and most important, potential customers for your business. “Students have different needs than the general population. There’s a really solid need for price differentiation”, he feels. Apple is the one company that seems to get it. Everything about the tech behemoth, from product design to hardware and software integration to offering lucrative discounts, is aimed at the younger crowd.

Skalleberg urges companies to see the big picture for the future today—take a slimmer margin now, reap the profits later. Offer lower prices to the student segment as, in their world, they see it as socially acceptable to price differently from the regular crowd. Thanks to the boom in the e-commerce business, there’s more information and price comparison going on.

Students have the luxury of shifting their loyalties to another brand that will answer their pricing needs. “A lot of things shouldn’t cost the same for everyone: they should be based on time of usage, when you use it, your status within that service, and so forth, says Skalleberg. StudentUniverse makes its money through commissions, paid advertising and search compare result sites.

Source: David Zax | 12 July, 2012 | Fast Company

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