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Here's how your brand can ace college midterms season

Ahhh... October on your typical North American college campus. A time for watching autumnal foliage; a time for tailgating, keg-standing and the settling of old football rivalries; a time for planning the ultimate Halloween bash; a time for... Wait a second...

Cancel all that. Because guess what?

That’s right: It’s time for another season of midterm exams. [cue terrifying “muahaha” music]

Gen Z are a pragmatic bunch. These kids didn’t come to college to mess around; they came to improve their chances at gainful employment after college. Indeed, a 2017 Accenture study finds that fully 88 percent of Gen Z students choose their major because it will improve their chances over competitors in landing a coveted job.

Since midterms tend to determine a good-sized chunk of a student’s semester grade — and since grades decide a student’s chances of overall success in the post-college job market — it’s natural Gen Zers feel added pressure to perform better on midterms than a few generations earlier.

Midterms make students stressed. And distracted. How can your brand help?

OK, fair question. We promise not to make appeals to corporate responsibility or to personal sense of civic duty (although we hold such things to be self-evidently awesome.)

Here’s the bottom line: By providing college students with the right technologies and studying environments, you’re making them acknowledge your usefulness as a brand. By giving them what they needed when they needed it the most, you’re establishing a connection at the personal level that will long outlast college.

As we’ve said before in this blog, everyone remembers the face of the person [or brand] who once helped them. We ain’t talking social morality here; we’re talking about your company’s bottom-line profits and overall reputation.

Understanding Gen Z study habits.

A 2015 Barnes & Noble College study examined the studying habits and preferences of Gen Z students. Unsurprisingly, the study found today’s students prefer active, participatory learning rather than passive, chapter-and-verse memorization of answers. To put it another way: They like to study much the same way they like to consume their media… socially.

Gen Z students place a premium on technologies that eliminate outside distraction. They also prefer learning environments that make studying more fun and less antisocial.

Create the perfect social perfect environment for Gen Z studying.

How about empowering students with an environment that awakens their “active learning” side? Think of how Starbucks already offers numerous, late-night cafes across North American campuses. Complete with free wifi, positive social ambience and high doses of night-owl caffeine, Starbucks student cafes provide a welcome alternative to the easy distractions that arise from studying alone in a dorm — or the über-serious, solitary confinement of most campus libraries.

Why not extend your restaurant — or retail — hours to accommodate sleepless students pulling all-night study sessions? Why not not provide students with special “midterm” menu options or with lower pricing on retail products that help them concentrate?

Some food for thought: A recent UNiDAYS/Ad Age restaurant study found that 91 percent of students would eat at a restaurant during “off-peak hours” if they “received discounts.” What could possibly be more “off-peak” than 3 am before an exam?

Save them in their darkest, all-nighter hour — and win their loyalty.

These are just a few of the possibilities that cafes and restaurants can offer exhausted, midterm-exam-cramming students.

When all’s said and done, they might well forget the questions they answered on their midterms… but they’ll remember the brand that helped them pass their exams with flying colors.

John Wheeler
John Wheeler
Managing Editor, Gen Z Insights

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