Before we know it, the halls will be decked for the holidays and many of us will be trying to figure out what to buy for our friends and families. While those of an older generation prefer handmade gifts and trinkets, marketing to college students, or more specifically, Gen Z, leaves many puzzled, with their hybrid craving for real-life experiences and just about anything digital.
The Gen Z’ers, loosely defined as those currently under 20, are America’s largest demographic group (25.9% of the population). They are the nation’s first age group to be born into the digital era and already contribute $44 billion to the American economy each year.
When it comes to paying attention to a brand’s messaging, Gen Z is highly influenced by online video ads and mobile banner ads. According to research published by Adweek, half of respondents had taken action after seeing an ad, 29% researched the product, 26% mentioned the product to a friend or family member, and 21% bought the product.
According to Fitch, there is a five-step process Gen Z-ers follow when grappling with a purchase decision, or looking to be a part of something IRL (In Real Life), like Student Ambassador Programs.
1. Finding out.
Gen Z identifies potential purchases and/or new activities via their natural state of seamless multitasking and social media scanning. This happens by way of:
- Peer suggestion
- Bookmarked websites
- Celebrities on Twitter
- YouTube sidebar
- TV ads & shows
- Unplanned store visits
As a brand, you want to be accessible and visible as much as possible. Gen Z-ers are looking for how you fit into their lifestyle. Making it easy for them, makes it easy for you.
Gen Z will start with Google before doing anything else. They then happily remix style trends, make a digital scrapbook and price-check across websites. While most of this activity is digital, they will also plan store visits as excursions – not individually but en masse with friends. Make sure your college campus marketing involves:
- High ranking on Google with the help of efficient SEO
- Brand websites- partner with complementary brands to boost exposure.
- Mobile-friendly websites- if they can’t access it on-the-go, it doesn’t exist.
3. Decision making.
Gen Z will seek approval from their peers, delaying gratification in case something better comes along, while constantly tracking prices using apps. These savvy shoppers may set a product ceiling price, buying only when the price falls below that level.
This also applies to IRL activities, like college rep programs like GoCommando. Making your brand’s tasks or jobs easy to fit into a college student’s lifestyle and desire for sharing, the easier it is for you!
4. Point of Purchase/Action.
For Gen Z – cash-poor but savvy – there is no shame in using bargain websites such as Chegg, nor in picking up a good deal second-hand.
Or, better yet, make it something they can do with their friends! Creating tasks they do with others creates new experiences (which they love!) and it helps spread your brand’s message and/or culture (which you love!). It also helps them segway into our final step…
5. Show & Tell!
Having made their purchase or participated in something new, Gen Z immediately want to connect with their peers, creating, watching and responding to ‘haul’ videos. They will do this by way of Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, and other multimedia social sharing platforms that give them the flexibility to craft their content in a way that makes sense to them.
As we enter into another bustling holiday season, remember: keeping things social and worth sharing through the entire process is key. Gen Z-ers start their research process early! Getting started today with brand awareness techniques like College Rep Programs or Student Brand Ambassador Programs is a great way to boost your brand’s top-of-mind awareness.