73% of Gen Z students think the media representation of spring break is inaccurate

Silhouette of three people in front of a sunset

Is your brand getting ready to win with Gen Z students this spring break? Before you continue, we recommend that you take some time to explore the different student personas you’ll need to consider when conducting your marketing strategy. Got 5 minutes now? Great! Let’s begin…

To start, let’s revert our minds back to 2012. The now 30-something Millennials had just turned 21, and R-rated crime movie, Spring Breakers, starring noughties Disney Channel stars Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens, had just hit the movie theatres. 

A decade ago, spring break was almost exclusively viewed as a time for students to party in Florida, Cancun and other tropical destinations. It was associated with drunken behaviour, destruction and drug-taking – all prominent themes in Spring Breakers. 

Over the years, the negative connotations surrounding spring break as a result of media coverage have prevailed 73% of Gen Zs agree that the media representation of spring break is not altogether accurate. Of course, there’s no denying that partying and living it up at the beach is still a popular choice for students, however there are plenty more ways that Gen Zs spend the week-long period. 

Party destinations 

Gen Z as a whole are understood to be less interested in alcohol than their older counterparts, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still game for a fun party vacation. 

group of people on the beach

Our research shows that at least 58% of students plan to go on vacation for spring break 2022, and a further 52% will be heading to the beach. For some of these students, that vacation destination will be somewhere hot with a good party scene – like Miami or the Caribbean. These students will be on the lookout for all those typical holiday purchases, like bathing suits, flip flops, sunscreen, sunglasses, with the addition of party wear. 

Work and volunteering 

For some students, spring break is an opportunity to pick up some extra shifts at work, start an internship or go on a volunteering project. 

Nearly a quarter of students plan to participate in a volunteering project this spring break, and 18% plan to secure an internship. The increase in volunteer work can partly be attributed to organizations like the Alternative Break Program – which allows students to take part in domestic or international projects designed to increase their awareness of critical social issues and help them grow as an individual. 

Person wearing a volunteer t shirt

Any student who plans to work or volunteer this spring break will likely have a shopping list that’s tailored to their job or program. Tech, outerwear and outdoor equipment, shoes, backpacks and homeware items all have the potential to make that list. 

Visiting family 

Many students go to college in a new state or country, so spring break is the perfect excuse to head home and visit family and friends.

Those who attend community college are more likely to live at home or in college accommodation just a few miles away. For these students, the week-long break is an excuse for the whole family to jet off on vacation or embark on a roadtrip to a neighboring state – so vacation purchases will certainly play a role here, too. 

Person taking a picture of the landscape from their car

For anyone staying at home, their time off will consist of activities with friends, local events or festivals, shopping, eating out, and just generally enjoying some free time before they go back to their studies. Brands of all sectors have an opportunity to reach Gen Z students during this time with boosted discounts and limited-time offers. 

Staying on-campus

Last but not least, we have the students who will be staying on-campus during spring break. Being only a week-long holiday, some students don’t feel the need to leave town and would rather hang out in and around their college campus without the pressure of attending classes. Some students may be part of a sports team that does additional training throughout the holidays. Either way, students who stay in their college town will be looking for things to do, places to go, people to see, and things to buy. 

Food and drinks brands, plus brands with an activity offering, have a great opportunity to drum up interest in the lead up to spring break, when students will be thinking about their plans and booking in activities. Be sure to give them an offer they can’t refuse. 

Great news! We’ve got not one but two spring break webinars coming soon. Tune into our student panel for even more insight into this crucial retail period, and put what you’ve learned into practice with our spring break masterclass. Sign up today

Gen Z and the Future of Ecommerce

Access the interactive report