• Hayley Gibson

The truth about students – 5 tips to help your brand target Gen Z

Generation Z are taking over from their millennial counterparts on the journey to further education. Their newly obtained student status makes them a highly influential consumer, as students are known for being big spenders with notable purchasing power. It is essential therefore for brands to understand their beliefs and behaviours in order to meet their particular needs.

Here are 5 things brands must do to connect with these dominant and diverse students:

1. Be technologically flawless

Gen Z have grown up digitally savvy with their mobiles virtually attached to their hands. They can access immediate information with minimal taps and have no patience for delays.

For brands, this is crucial to your marketing strategy.

If your online content is not optimised for mobile devices, Gen Z won’t hesitate to swipe you from their screen. If your site responds slowly, they’ll quickly locate your competitor. A user-centric approach is key to grasping their attention. Create mobile-friendly content that is clean, professional and up-to-date. The navigation needs to be faultless and clicking through links should be seamless. Remember technology is not a tool – to Gen Z it is part of their life.

2. Encourage collaboration

Within education, Gen Z students actively resist passive learning. Instead, they want to be fully involved in the learning process, preferring interactive experiences and the opportunity to come to their own conclusions.

The same applies to brands. If you want to target Gen Z, the answer is simple – work with them and involve them in the decision-making process. Their non-linear mindset revolves around finding solutions and thinking constructively rather than being told what to do. If you have a brand identity that strongly resonates with students, Gen Z influencers will advocate it and word of mouth (i.e. social media) will positively boost your brand’s reputation.

3. Be real and authentic

Social media should be used as an engagement tool to connect with your Gen Z audience, not for inundating them with hard-sell adverts. Gen Z are aware there are real people behind a brand, with 70% favouring an informal and friendly attitude from brands on social.

Humanising your brand will reinforce its authenticity, allowing students to relate to your brand story.

4. Video is key

Showcasing your brand values on social media can revolutionise the way Gen Z see your brand. But, with only 1.2 seconds to interrupt their swiping and grab their attention, brands must utilise the medium currently favoured by students.

Video is omnipresent in the daily lives of Gen Z, with 32% watching online videos for an hour or more a day. They gain satisfaction from being informed and entertained and your brand should follow these guidelines. There should be value in your videos, such as product demonstrations, interesting insights or an authentic story. Give Gen Z something to stick around for and collectively they will promote your brand without even been asked.

5. Have a clear purpose

If brands want to make a lasting impression on Gen Z, they need to establish a purpose that resonates with their strong values. As a pragmatic generation, students will disregard brand messages that do not embrace reality. They have strong beliefs in stigmatic topics such as gender, equality, sexuality and mental health, yet struggle to see brands reflecting modern society in an authentic way.

Prove to Gen Z that you are socially and politically conscious. They are purpose-driven and will be looking for brands that stand for something authentic. Gen Z want to make an impact – if a brand follows the same mindset, this generation will be much more inclined to remember your brand first, amongst a saturated market of competitors.