WASSERMAN NEXT GEN’S PREMIER CENSUS OF COLLEGE STUDENTS REEXAMINES GEN Z RELATIONSHIPS WITH BRANDS, TECH, INVESTMENT AND SUCCESSNovember 14, 2023
● First Public Release of Insights from Annual Study Shows that Gen Z Consumers Seek Simplicity and Solutions from Brands – Amid the Clutter and Chaos of Daily Life
● More Than Half of Respondents Report “Worrying about My Basic Needs” as Having Interfered with their Ability to be Successful
Wasserman Next Gen – a department within Wasserman’s brand and property marketing division focused on connecting brands with Gen Z and Millennial consumers – has released for the first time insights from its annual census of North American college students. While the next generation has been reported in today’s headlines as distinct and unprecedented versus previous generations, the data shows that they’re largely facing modern versions of universal challenges. Fifty-one percent report “worrying about my basic needs” as interfering with their success, defying dated stereotypes that college students are only worried about their social lives – and reflected in rising generational activism. Brands are advised to demonstrate support, and to offer resources for advancing fundamental and societal needs.
“Gen Z is speaking up loud and clear, and they’re giving marketers, organizations and institutions the confidence that your brand doesn’t have to be cool to engage with them – you just need to be relevant,” said Wasserman Next Gen Senior Vice President Matt Fasano. “While this generation is navigating unique experiences, their fundamental need for brands to solve problems doesn’t change. The focus needs to be on understanding how to reach them and what they expect. Make solution-based engagement the basis for Gen Z marketing, and connect strategies with tactics that reflect nuanced, personal perspectives.”
Brand marketers are advised to take note: While Gen Z appreciates the latest trends and emerging technologies, the insights about these consumers prove they’re relatable – and seeking innovative support reflective of modern times. Highlights include:
● Redefined Success: The leading definition of “college success” among respondents was happiness/fulfillment (15%) with academic achievement/GPA in a secondary position (11%). Previously during COVID lockdown specifically, students had more often defined “college success” as happiness/fulfillment vs. academic achievement/GPA, 20% vs. 6% respectively. While academic achievement/GPA has regained some importance in a post-lockdown era, brands are regardless encouraged to find solutions that propel student success – defined on their terms.
● Cohabitation Shifts: 21% of respondents reported that they live at home with family. Marketers should recognize that in comparison to those living in school-owned or off-campus housing with peers, one in five living at home means a different set of consumer needs – for example, greater commuting needs and less household item spend.
● Mobile Confliction: 84% spend 4+ hours per day on their mobile device; for 39% of respondents, the volume is 7+ hours. Sixty percent feel it’s too much time. The data suggests that strategic experiences should give students a welcomed reason to look outside their phones, via innovative, attention-capturing experiences offline.
● Investment Focus: 39% of respondents currently invest. Of those who don’t, 20% said they haven’t given it thought and 35% stated they don’t understand how it works; 54% of students are interested in resources to learn more about investing. Strategic brands can provide guidance and reference as Gen Z investing power continues to grow in subsequent life stages.
● Brand Engagement: Despite concerns about overuse of mobile devices, 97% still report that the best way for brands to contact them with sales promotions and new product offerings is direct digital communication including email, text and social media. Social media might be part of a college student’s everyday life, but the data shows that’s not the primary way to reach them digitally.
The data reflects Wasserman Next Gen’s annual student census to gain insight into the behaviors and habits of college students for all aspects of their life. The 2023 survey was completed by 1,012 college students in the US and Canada during February 2023. To ensure the samples are representative, the study sets quotas on age, gender, and region. Respondents participated via a mobile device, laptop, PC or tablet.
Interested marketers can click here for a 30-minute discovery call with the Wasserman Next Gen
team regarding the research, yielding a custom, one-page report of relevant Census data.
About Wasserman Next Gen
Wasserman powers the business of sports, music, entertainment and culture. Founded in 2002, Wasserman represents many of the world’s most iconic sports and entertainment figures, music artists, brands and properties, empowering them to shape culture and captivate audiences worldwide.
Wasserman Next Gen connects brands with the next generation of consumers. From high school to college and into young adult life, the team takes an audience-first approach, using unrivaled access to understand the passions and interests of these consumers, generate ideas that resonate, and deliver hyperlocal, culturally relevant engagement at scale. Wasserman Next Gen’s integrated approach allows clients to understand and engage with Gen Z and Millennial consumers through custom research, peer-to-peer, social and digital, experiential, media, and community integration strategies.
Headquartered in Los Angeles, Wasserman operates globally across 27 countries and more than 62 cities, including New York, London, Abu Dhabi, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Madrid, Mexico City, Toronto, Paris and Sydney. For more information, please visit www.teamwass.com.