Gen Z’s New Norm. How They’re Moving Forward and What Marketers Need to Know.

By Barnes & Noble College

Barnes & Noble College wanted to get a picture of Gen Z’s daily lives during the pandemic and their expectations for the days ahead, so we asked them.

In a survey conducted among 1,800 undergrad and grad college students in June of this year, we asked what they’ve been doing to socialize and entertain themselves during Stay-at-Home and how they’ve been spending time online. We also learned about their back-to-school plans and how they will move forward as restrictions are lifted and re-opening occurs.

UNPRECEDENTED ACCESS DELIVERS INVALUABLE INSIGHTS
As a trusted on-campus retailer, Barnes & Noble College forges relationships with Gen Z college students from the moment they’re accepted through to graduation and beyond. As marketers pivot to reconnect with college students, our unprecedented access and proprietary market research capabilities provide a direct line to this highly coveted demographic.

BACK-TO-SCHOOL: FALL 2020.

These young women and men are soooooo ready to get back to their college routines or to establish new ones.
94% of undergraduate students plan to attend classes in the fall

Of undergraduates who will not be attending school or are unsure of their plans:
Of undergraduate students who will not be attending school or are unsure of their plans

Of undergraduates returning to school or are unsure of their plans:
Of those returning to school or are unsure of their plans

ENTERTAINMENT – DURING STAY-AT-HOME AND BEYOND

Like everyone else, Gen Z college students have had loads of time on their hands the last few months. They’ve been spending time online to relieve stress and entertain themselves and look forward to future in-person events.

Top streaming services used by college students are:Top Streaming Services during COVIDRelatively few (18%) signed up for new streaming services over the last 60 days.

Online COVID-19 special events were not popular among this group.
Online COVID-19 special events were not popular among this group.

Looking ahead to in-person events, Gen Z college students are likely to attend select events.
Looking ahead to in-person events, Gen Z college students are likely to attend select events.

Those who are willing to attend events expect protective measures to be taken so that they would feel safe.
Those who are willing to attend events expect protective measures to be taken so that they would feel safe.

SOCIAL CONNECTIONS

Now, more than ever, college students are eager to communicate. Over the last few months, they’ve remained connected with classmates, friends, family and the world at large – ONLINE AND IN PERSON.

Top ways they’ve stayed in touch during the pandemic.
Top ways they’ve stayed in touch during the pandemic.

Top social media apps they’ve used during the pandemic.
Top social media apps they’ve used during the pandemic.

Among those who currently use these social media apps, they use them once a day or more.
Among those who currently use these social media apps, they use them once a day or more.

Students currently socialize in person in several ways.
Students currently socialize in person in several ways.

5 Key takeaways: Insights for brand marketers.

  1. Use an omnichannel approach to reach college students where they will be. Although a large percentage will return to school, some will locate off campus or live at home. This calls for a mix of in-person and digital communications to reach them wherever they are, regardless of their surroundings.
  2. Help them re-establish normalcy. Uncertainty will remain for the foreseeable future, so show how your brand can bring consistency and make their lives easier. Emphasize convenience benefits as well as what’s familiar to them—messaging or campaign themes, product packaging or flavors, spokespersons, or promotions.
  3. Emphasize connections. Fostering social media conversations and sponsoring in-person events will help them stay connected to their world.
  4. Do what you can to ease their anxiety and stress. If humor aligns with your brand, then go for it. Continuing to do good for these consumers (like giving away hand sanitizers in sampling packs) and through your community programs will have positive effects on their mindset.
  5. Ask what’s on their minds, frequently. Just as temperature checks are becoming commonplace, so should your state-of-mind checks. Step up your research efforts so you can be sure you know what these young consumers need.

Expand your audience understanding.

With unparalleled access to our college students via our proprietary panel, email network, and on-campus footprint, Barnes & Noble College conducts immersive research among this generation that will help shape your critical business decisions during these challenging times.

Consider the opportunities to connect with college students and contact us today.

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