The 3 things students want to see from brands this Back to School season

Student on their iPad

Tap into our student insights to see how college students typically prepare for the Back to School season and what they want to see from brands this year. 


Students are currently in the midst of building up their brand loyalties and Back to School season is a key purchasing season for young people heading to college in August. 

Of course, with so much to buy across a number of sectors – like homewares, fashion and tech, for example – 95% of students are looking for brands that offer exclusive discounts for students around this time of year to help them budget their spend and manage their finances. 

Not only will this benefit students, it benefits brands, too. 92% of 16-24s think that brands who offer student incentives care about students, and 90% think these brands are relevant to young people. Plus, 98% would consider buying from the brand again even when it’s no longer on sale – which means you’re guaranteed to secure brand loyalty that lasts way beyond their college years if you take the necessary steps now


For new students, starting college can be a stressful time. They’re leaving the comfort of the high school bubble, they’re meeting new people, taking on harder classes, and many students are getting used to a whole new town, state or even country. 

That’s why the majority of students seek advice before heading to college – not just from those they know, but from brands, too. In fact, 62% of students want advice from brands on what to buy for college and a further 52% want brands to offer them advice on how to shake the nerves and get ready for college. 

Creating fun and easily digestible content for your website and social media channels highlighting the products students will want or need for college is a great way to put your brand on their radar. 

For fashion and beauty brands, TikTok videos showcasing different looks for campus will help boost your engagement. For homeware brands, why not consider getting involved with Pinterest’s new ‘try on’ feature for interior brands? As digital natives, Gen Zs will be the first to tap into these ecommerce initiatives – plus, they’re big fans of using social media platforms, like Pinterest, for inspiration and purchasing decisions. 

Laptop screen showing a Pinterest board

As a multi-sector opportunity, all brands can get involved with Back to School inspo and advice. To be authentic and really get close to Gen Z consumers, we recommend using trustworthy influencers who have been through the college whirlwind themselves and will be best placed to tell your Gen Z followers how they can best prepare for college. 


Students might be digital natives, but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy in-person interaction – especially when on campus. 

Our research reveals that 81% of students want to see brands doing freebies and giveaways on campus around Back to School season. Not only does this put your brand directly in the eyes of Gen Z consumers, it also allows for your brand to get really creative and authentic with your Gen Z strategy. If you do get out on campus, we recommend streaming the event live on Instagram for the wider Gen Z community to see. 

Freebies and giveaways are also a good marketing method to implement in the lead-up to Back to School season when students are making most of their key college purchases. Try using gamification like a spin the wheel or digital scratch card to add an element of fun and entertainment to the shopping experience. 

To win big with Gen Z, you’ve got to know exactly who you’re marketing to. Find out what makes them tick by tuning into our panel discussion: Ask them anything: an exclusive session with Gen Z.

Gen Z and the Future of Ecommerce

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