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6 steps for marketing to Gen Z in the midst of Covid-19

by Christina Germano
    Download the report: Gen Z spending habits before and during COVID-19

    Get set for the back-to-campus rush

    As Gen Z prepare to head back to university, there’s a huge opportunity for brands to seize.Students will be stocking up on everything they need to hit the...

    Is your brand grappling with how to connect with Gen Z in light of how serious COVID-19 has become? If so, you’re not alone.

    Here’s the good news: We’re here to lessen the load. There might not be a “Pandemic Marketing for Dummies'’ book to fall back on (TBH, we wish there was, though), but we can give you some actionable tips for connecting with Gen Z in these unprecedented times. 

    Below we’ve outlined some advice for brands looking to market to Gen Z (gently, practically, and empathetically) during the COVID-19 crisis. 

    6 quick tips for Gen Z marketers during COVID-19

    1. Keep them updated. 

    You probably already know that Gen Z is a highly informed generation, and there are several different channels through which they receive news. Social media, unsurprisingly, is one of their favorites.  

    This situation—though incredibly unfortunate—is also an opportunity for your brand to connect with Gen Z audiences via digital means. After all, people are spending more time on their phones than ever before. (There’s a silver lining in everything, right?)

    As the Coronavirus has forced retail, restaurants, and countless other businesses to close their physical locations, many have turned to digital means to update their customers. Not sure which information to share? Promote your online store (or, for restaurants, your takeout/delivery services); address changes to store hours or logistics; share any online flash sales you might be running—these are just a few examples of what Gen Z is waiting to hear from your brand.


    2. Show empathy.

    Consider posting fun and engaging content that will help students stay positive and entertained while being stuck indoors. This might include at-home workout videos, recipes of the day, mental health tips, or engaging polls—the possibilities are really endless. 

    This is also an opportunity to tap into user-generated content. People are stuck indoors and at home to an extent our world has never experienced before. So, chances are, Zers would be happy to pass the time by crafting some user-generated content for their favorite brands.

    Remember: Always keep your tone positive and supportive. There's no need to make things somber or to refer to the 'dark times' we’re going through right now. Don’t forget that students have it really tough right now, too, as many of their schools have closed for the remainder of the semester.

    3. Foster community.

    One of the most positive results we’ve seen come out of this situation is community. Worldwide, people are leveraging digital platforms to find common ground amid the chaos. Not sure where to begin? 

    Here are just a few examples of how your brand can foster community with Gen Z during COVID-19: 

    • Host a digital study group
    • Empower STEM students to share their thoughts on finding a vaccine
    • Ask students to share pictures of their favorite quarantine fashions (#quarantinefashion)
    • Pledge a portion of your sales to a virus-related charity
    • Encourage students to share stories about their COVID-19 heroes (doctors, nurses, parents, teachers). 

    Download the free Gen Z COVID-19 spending habits report
    4. Focus on online offers.

    In light of COVID-19, UNiDAYS polled its audience of global student members to uncover what they truly want to hear from brands right now. The majority of students (45%) want to receive relevant offers from brands. As many physical stores are closing, it’s time to focus on the e-commerce side of things. Get those online offers posted ASAP. 

    P.S. Another 42% of student respondents said that they want a little bit of everything from brands: relevant offers, activities to help keep them busy, health and safety resources, and a way for student voices to be heard. So, you’re definitely not just limited to sharing discounts.

    5. Refrain from joking about the virus.

    This could be funny… or it could very easily back-fire. We can’t truly understand how each individual member is experiencing this time of anxiety and distress. Plus, there's no way of knowing what's still in store for everyone across the globe. Case in point: Italy. What seems funny now may not be so funny in two weeks’ time.

    View this post on Instagram

    I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of concern and support over the last 24 hours. I have gone through so many emotions since learning of my diagnosis…mostly fear, anxiety, and embarrassment. The first and most important thing is I would like to publicly apologize to the people that I may have endangered. At the time, I had no idea I was even infected. I was careless and make no excuse. I hope my story serves as a warning and causes everyone to take this seriously. I will do whatever I can to support using my experience as way to educate others and prevent the spread of this virus . I am under great care and will fully recover. Thank you again for all your support. I encourage everyone to take all of the steps to stay safe and healthy. Love.

    A post shared by Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) on


    Utah Jazz basketball player Ruby Gobert publicly apologized after joking about the virus.

    6. Be mindful with polls, giveaways, and competitions in general.

    Remember, further limitations to our freedom of movement are likely still to come. Be certain that any content you share with students has the current situation in mind. For example, if you host an online giveaway and the winner gets a $50 gift card, ensure that the gift card can be used online, not just in-store.

    Lululemon has focused on online-forward content in light of the virus.

    Download the report: Gen Z spending habits before and during COVID-19

      Download the report: Gen Z spending habits before and during COVID-19


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      Think digital marketing is all it takes to reach Gen Z? Think again. Download the research report here.