Students these days are hugely diverse. Not only are they super savvy consumers, they are concerned with the world around them and constantly question the validity of what they are being told by brands and media alike – especially online – and rightly so, especially with the current debate regarding ‘fake news’. They rely heavily on their peers’ opinions to inform their own and are constantly turning to social media to gain insight to help make informed decisions. They are also highly intuitive and aware of what is happening in the world, and are keen to get involved with current affairs.
As students’ money is a big priority, marketing to this audience can be especially tricky. Here are six facts you should know about the students of today and how best to engage them with your brand marketing.
Knowledge is Power
We’ve already covered that students can be a shrewd type of consumer, and from our experience they are often quick to pass judgement – first impressions can make or break a brand. Companies that focus heavily on sales messages or self-interest are immediately chastised, so balance in communication is paramount. This approach to marketing can create a challenge when putting a campaign together designed to target students. There is a need for campaigns to be innovative, appearing to not be for self-promotion and offering something valuable back to fans; often students will respond better to campaigns that add value to their lives.
Innovate with Innovation
There is no denying that Facebook is the broadest social media channel of the moment, with one of the strongest and most intuitive advertising capabilities. However, you will find many students these days using Snapchat as one of their primary means of contact with friends. A whopping 51% of Generation Z say that they use Snapchat, with 34% saying that they checked it multiple times per day. Therefore, it is key that brands get involved on Snapchat; but as a brand you want to make sure that it is authentic and, considering the nature of the platform, fun. A brand that is making waves on Snapchat is Taco Bell – they’re fun, innovative, on-brand, and promotional all in one! The other route to take is to be informational (again in a fun way) to give students content that will help to enrich their lives.
Stand Out From The Crowd
Something that is often mentioned about Generation Z and students in the media is that they have a short attention span. To be honest, we think our attention spans in general have diminished over recent times – social media could play a huge role in this as we are submitted to so much information each day it’s difficult to absorb it all. Equally, we are getting used to ‘ignoring’ content – this is why you brand needs to offer something that is memorable and will stick. Ask yourself this question before you share anything on social media – would I talk about this at the pub with my mates? If the answer is no, chances are your content or idea isn’t engaging enough. A big attention grabber is getting a voice involved that either they recognise or can easily identify with.
Empower Students As Content Creators
The current generation of students have grown up with technology and social media being a key part of their lives. This has led to many students participating on social media and they themselves becoming content creators. Encouraging collaboration with your brand is a key driver for students, it allows them to be creative and they also have the chance of being endorsed by your brand. It means that both you and your consumer are getting something valuable from the marketing campaign.
Brand Loyalty Must Be Earned
Students and the youth in general are as discerning as ever, and there is a general perception that this market in particular is harder to reach and engage. They have less brand loyalty than those that came before them; equally, they like the idea of retailers being loyal to them. The lesson that brands can take away from this is that it is key to engage with your online community, but to also listen! This demographic isn’t shy of sharing its expectations so listen out for those cues and apply them to your strategies; offer entertainment and relevance and you’re on to a winner! http://uk.businessinsider.com/millennials-vs-gen-z-2016-8/#gen-z-has-higher-expectations-than-millennials-8
You Scratch My Back, I’ll Scratch Yours
Students today are very focused on their careers with many of them rating finding a job as their top concern. They are keen for career growth and, as mentioned before, many want to carve out their own careers by becoming an entrepreneur or starting their own business. They have big aspirations for their working life and so brands should be aware that giving them the ability to progress in their jobs will be key. Play to these aspirations when considering targeting students with campaigns by offering something invaluable in return that they will thank you for. A good example is a campaign we created with a previous client, Debut. We asked students to come up with a concept for a new product in return for work experience with the brand we partnered with, L’Oreal. There were tonnes of entries and the winner was actually offered a permanent position within the company!