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Know your audience: a guide to Australian Gen Zs

Brands, here’s your guide to Australian Gen Z students – to help you understand and successfully engage with your next generation of consumers this academic year and beyond.

Generation Z refers to the demographic born between 1995-2010, representing today’s teens and young adults. The current cohort of students sit right in the middle of this age range, and are the main focus for us here at Student Beans. We make it our mission to empower students to thrive – and so can you. Tap into our latest insights to learn more about Australian Gen Z students and how your brand can truly win them over.

University life

Unlike students in the UK and US, Australian students are much more likely to attend university close to home. 68% of the students we surveyed said they continued to live in their family home when starting university. 12% opted to move to a new home in the same city or state, and only 13% have actually moved away to a different city or state for their studies.

Aussie students’ higher education is thus more intertwined into their daily lives, which means they tend to rely less on student loan-related income and more on their hard-earned disposable income. Indeed, 49% of a student’s income typically comes from work, while 21% comes from family. In total, 84% of uni students have had a job in the past year alone. 

Sports and fitness is a pretty big trend among Gen Z students – 44% of students are part of a sports team. After a year of lockdown restrictions, we expect this trend to remain high going into semester two this July, and for the next cohort of new students starting university in early 2022. Welcome Week is typically the biggest uni event in the student calendar, and most happens twice a year at the beginning of both semesters. Fitness and gym wear brands have a key opportunity here to tap into this health-conscious generation and encourage students to get involved in sports teams and clubs – helping to build up student engagement and brand loyalty in the long term.

Digital natives

Did you know that 99% of students use social media at least once a month? As a generation that has never known a world without the internet, Gen Zs are true digital natives – and social media has definitely helped elevate this reputation.

YouTube comes out on top as the most popular platform across Australian Gen Zs; it is used by a massive 84% of students at least once a month, followed by Instagram (79%), Facebook (67%), Snapchat (66%) and TikTok (54%).

phone screen displaying social media apps

Of course social media is a hub for influencers, a term most commonly associated with Gen Zs and millennials. In total, 78% of students follow influencers on social media – 44% follow food influencers, 40% health and beauty, 40% fitness and 39% fashion. Though a substantial amount of students follow influencers, it is important to note that the majority of Gen Zs are moving away from millennial-era traits. This new consumer group is changing up the narrative of what it means to be an influencer. For Gen Zs, trust, authenticity and realness are super important in both the digital world and the real world – make sure your digital marketing strategy aligns with these values.

On the whole, visual platforms are the most popular among students, which makes them a great place for brands to reach the wider Gen Z audience. Creating YouTube tutorials, Instagram reels or relatable posts will go a long way in gaining Gen Z’s brand loyalty and trust. Get to grips with speaking their digital language to truly win over this tech-savvy generation.

Spending habits

We often refer to students as a ‘financially-savvy’ group, but what does this really mean? Young people today are generally more concerned about their financial future and career choices, which means they like to shop smart where possible and do their research before making a purchase.

Since the start of the pandemic, 54% of the students we surveyed said they look for discounts more often, and a further 35% said they make fewer impulse purchases when shopping. Following a difficult year for retail, 34% of students are also keen to support small businesses.

They might be cautious spenders, but that doesn’t mean students don’t enjoy treating themselves on a regular basis. We’ve learnt that 75% of Gen Z students browse online stores at least once a week, and 95% at least once a month. 32% of these students actually make a purchase online at least once a week, and a significant 81% do so at least once a month.

young women with a trolley

As a brand, it’s essential that you stand out to students by offering exclusive student discounts, or limited time offers. As a financially-savvy group, Gen Zs are prepared to search around if they feel they can get what they want elsewhere at a more affordable price. Consider getting involved in shopping sales events to help position yourself as a student facing brand. 62% and 38% of students have purchased something during Black Friday and in the End of Financial Year sales respectively – so you can bet Gen Z will be ready and waiting for events like these to roll around each year. Brands, grab this opportunity with both hands!

Ethics and values

As the most diverse demographic to date, Gen Zs are hyper-aware of global issues. When asked what issues they are most passionate about, 67% said mental health and 54% said racial equality, followed by animal cruelty (50%) and sustainabilty (49%).

Their passion is reinforced by how deeply they choose to engage with such issues – 57% of students said they would sign a petition to support these movements and 46% said they would donate money. As digital natives, it comes as no surprise that many students would further utilise their social media platforms to show their support – 48% would do this. Perhaps most significant to brands is the fact that 47% of students would change their spending habits in support of something they believe in.

Indeed, 70% of students say Black Lives Matter has affected their shopping habits – 42% said they will try not to buy from brands that have been linked to racism and 36% want to support more black-owned businesses. In total, 89% of students have taken action about a cause they believe in. As a brand, it’s important to show your support and help keep conversations about important issues going – Gen Zs will remember those who took action. 

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