College Millennial vs. Gen-Z Students (A Campus Divided)

College Millennial vs. Gen-Z Students (A Campus Divided)

March 7, 2017

college students

Over the last decade, media planners and marketers have been obsessing over how to decode and engage millennial consumers. Now there is a new addition to college student generations, Gen-Z, which is coming of age as a powerful consumer set.  In fact, on college campuses around the country, Gen-Z are now the underclassmen as the tail end of the millennial generation is transitioning out of college as junior and seniors.

Like college students before them, these consumers are making brand choices for themselves for the first time, and this habit-forming period is crucial to brands that are interested in entry point consumers. The choices and habits that are made in college tend to stay with that consumer until their next major life event, usually marriage, which is happening at a later age more now than ever before.  It’s vital to engage at this stage, before they head out of college to tackle the working world.

What is really interesting is that there are defined differences between these digitally savvy college student generations.  While millennials were the first truly digitally native consumer set, Gen-Z have grown up in this post-digital native world and have noticeable differences in both how they shop and how they behave.

If you are wondering how to market to Gen-Z and Millennial college students, Refuel Agency’s 16th annual College Explorer examines the differences between these college student generations has some interesting findings that will shape how brands successfully interact with these college student generations.  App usage and messengering are the two most notable noticeable differences:  Gen-Z college students are 35% more likely than millennial students to download and use music-based apps, 35% more likely to download and use gaming apps, and 24% more likely to download and use messenger apps.  Regarding messaging apps and frequency of use, Gen-Z is 3.1 times more likely to use the KIK messenger app weekly and 54% more likely to use Instagram weekly.

Looking to target consumers at the edge of this generational divide? It’s important to understand the nuances of how they interact digitally, so brands can integrate their messages into the screens, apps and feeds that resonate most with each consumer set.

This year’s College Explorer dives deeply into the generational nuances that are taking place in college right now.  Request more information about College Marketing or Refuel’s strategy, creative, and media services to reach this unique market.

Author:  Jeff Miller, VP, Integrated Solutions