Experiential Marketing Helps Brands Connect with Gen Z On Campus

By BNC Marketing

5 Ideas Marketers Can Use

Let’s face it marketers, we’re all trying to get our heads around the ethos of Gen Z: What really makes them tick? How can we get them to connect with our brands?

With $46 billion* in purchasing power and new ideas and behaviors, Gen Z is a cultural and economic phenomenon — and a marketer’s dream!

Different from their Millennial predecessors, Gen Z wants to interact in person – with people and brands – because they value new experiences. According to the IBM Institute for Business Value and the NRF**, 98% of Gen Zs still prefer to make purchases in-store some or most of the time, and 56% want their in-store experience “to be fun so they won’t be bored.”

“Gen Zers don’t want transactions. They want shopping experiences that allow them to engage in immersive and relevant ways with what they buy,” says Lisa Malat, Barnes & Noble College CMO.

Barnes & Noble creates unique experiences that connect brands with Gen Z.

These simple tips can help your brand create strong Gen Z connections, too.

  • Go directly to where they live and breathe, and personalize their shopping experience. For us, that means college campuses. “Barnes & Noble College has implemented thousands of hyper-local events and we’ve made our 770+ stores campus hubs that are sought-out shopping destinations, offering personalized brand experiences,” continues Malat.
  • Leverage key college moments to make your in-person brand experience memorable. New students are highly receptive to brand experiences that help ease their transition to college life. Brands that personally engage at new student orientation events, for example, establish strong loyalty connections that carry through college years and beyond. The same strategy applies to other campus events – like Homecoming, Parents Weekend, and athletics games – and appeals to Gen Z upperclassman as well.  Designing interactive atmospheres with demos, tastings, conversations, music and other immersive tactics works best with Gen Z.
  • Build your own branded events. For 100% share of voice, create your own brand experience with events such as parties, demos, speaker series or a hand-on events (think yoga, think artwork, cooking, local charitable cause or school-benefit.) Build creatively and Gen Z will take notice.
  • Whatever venue you choose, be sure to fully integrate a social component. You want your Gen Z in-store or campus experience to be a highly shareable experience. Research tells us that this cohort’s in-store social media platforms of choice are Snapchat, Instagram and texting. Contests, visually exciting displays and giveaways translate well into shareable experiences.

Ready to create your own brand experience to drive Gen Z student loyalty and activation’s? Let our campus presence pave the way for your brand. With physical retail locations, e-commerce and social media sites at 770+ US college campuses, Barnes & Noble College is the only source that can deliver in-person and online.

Reach Gen Z Let's Start the Conversation


**Uniquely Generation Z. IBM Institute for Business Value and National Retail Federation.

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