Right now, under normal circumstances, students would be thriving amidst their new-found financial independence. Yet COVID-19 has pushed many into unexpected financial hardship. Several French supermarket brands are leading the way in doing what they can to change that.
Students and COVID-related hardship
In typical circumstances, the average student in Europe depends on part-time work for 24% of their total income. Work can look very different depending on location and lifestyle, but there’s little question that many of the sectors in which students typically find employment have been hardest hit by COVID-19. The hospitality sector is subject to much instability across Europe, and as working from home becomes the norm, fewer in-person paid internships are available to students.
Supermarkets in France: taking the lead
While many brands do run year-round student discounts, which are no doubt a lifeline during this time, a cluster of French brands have taken this one step further and introduced a student discount specifically because of COVID-related hardships. Casino supermarkets has launched a 10% discount for students until June 30, which runs in tandem with an offer that allows consumers to finance food supplies for students when they check out. Casino then distributes lunch packages and vouchers to local student organisations.
Meanwhile, fellow supermarket Leclerc is soon to introduce a student lunch basket that could cost less than €2, and in February Intermarche ran a limited-time student offer: €20 vouchers to spend in store for every €10 spent.
Brands that have opted to assist student consumers at this time will see the ripples of their decision for months – and potentially years – to come. This cohort of students is part of Gen Z – an ethically conscious, values-driven demographic with a short but rich history of holding brands to account. And when they’re not calling out brands for inauthentic or performative actions, they’re celebrating brands that are getting it right.
The long-term value of showing up
So far, student hardship discounts have been concentrated in French supermarkets – and while groceries are high on many students’ list of priorities, it’s not their only essential expense right now. With so many students experiencing hybrid or fully-remote study, many are spending more than they planned to in order to stay connected to virtual lectures and seminars. In the US, for example, 38% of remote students found they had to upgrade their tech after starting their studies from home.
Whether you’re a tech brand that could offer a short-term incentive to help remote students tap into virtual learning, or a homewares brand that could give them a discount on kitting out their study space, there are numerous ways to make this difficult time less of a struggle.
There’s no question that by supporting members of the student community that need it most, brands like Casino, Leclerc, and Intermarche will grab the attention of Gen Z consumers. But they’ll also likely win their long-term loyalty. We know that students develop lifetime brand loyalties in their early days of studying at university – and they have a proven track record of favouring brands that respond well to global issues, such as Black Lives Matter and the climate crisis, to name but two. Students will be much more likely to remember and return to a brand that helped them out in a tough time. For brands hoping to make that impression, there’s no time like the present.
At Student Beans, we can help you to empower students to thrive during this time. If you’d like to start a hardship discount or set up a long-term student program, get in contact today.