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Brands, get ready for Welcome Week with these top tips

four young adults sat at a table laughing

Check out our top tips for marketing to students as they prepare for the start of the next academic year, kicking off with Welcome Week at the end of the month.

Welcome Week, also known as Orientation Week or O-Week, is officially upon us – and students are gearing up for a new academic year that is looking to be a bit more normal than the last one. Beginning in February or March for most universities, Welcome Week signals the beginning of a new semester and is the perfect opportunity for brands to build a strong relationship with Australia’s 1.5 million-strong student demographic. Whether it’s tech, homewares or a wardrobe refresh, students are likely to be on the lookout for purchases that will define the next chapter of their education. Making a good impression now could mean you gain a long-lasting, loyal following going forward.

Welcome Week and the ‘new normal’

Repercussions from the coronavirus pandemic mean Welcome Week will undoubtedly look different this year to reflect our ‘new normal’. Some students, particularly those considered vulnerable, will be studying remotely while others will be returning to face-to-face learning. International students currently abroad face trickier challenges. At present, Australia is not able to welcome new or returning international students to campus due to their closed border – this is very unlikely to change ahead of Welcome Week.

Although Welcome Week is going to look slightly different this year, it still remains an exciting event in a student’s calendar and is one that brands should definitely get involved in. Just remember that not all students are in the same boat, therefore it is crucial you make your marketing inclusive and broad to cater for all.

Let’s get digital

For maximum reach, digital is the way to go for 2021. In a normal year, Market Day is a prime opportunity for brands to make the right impression during Welcome Week. Buta student’s introduction to university will be dependent on their uni’s approach to on-campus activity, which will vary from state-to-state. Thankfully, Australian Gen Zs just so happen to have the highest social media usage out of all the generations, so this tech-savvy group shouldn’t have too much trouble adjusting to a digitalised Welcome Week, especially if online discounts are involved.

three people pointing to a laptop screen

When it comes to the most popular digital platform, you might be surprised to learn that visual platforms, like Youtube and Snapchat, are top of Gen Z’s list. Indeed, 91% of young people use YouTube regularly, and Snapchat now has 6.3 million active daily users in Australia. Plus, with Tik Tok emerging during the Covid-19 pandemic as another popular visual platform, the scope for marketing activity to target Gen Z just keeps on growing. This means brands have lots of opportunities to engage with students via video adverts, product placement and sponsored content in the days and weeks leading up to Welcome Week.

Of course, with some campuses opening up again, brands have the chance to utlise both digital and in-person interaction, as long as it is deemed safe to do so. Gen Z might be digital natives, but they equally value in-person interaction, too. Welcome Week activities exist for the start of both semester one and semester two so, if not now, brands should certainly consider on-campus marketing for when the second Welcome Week of the year rolls around in July and August.

Top trends for Welcome Week 2021

44% of Gen Z say they feel stressed all or some of the time, so it’s vital that brands consider students’ mental health when marketing to them during Welcome Week. Students’ main concerns relate to their job prospects and financial future – this worry has no doubt worsened for Gen Z since the economy took a hit from the pandemic. As such, Welcome Week for Gen Z is likely to be an equal balance of socialising with plenty of academic and career-boosting activities mixed in. As a brand, you should be speaking to both their excitement and their concerns.

As one of the most culturally diverse nations on the planet, interest in international brands is high amongst Australians. And with such a large cohort of international students enrolled at Australian universities each year, Gen Z are particularly international in their brand preferences. In recent years the uptake of disruptive tech has been strong, with Chinese smartphone brands such as Huawei and OnePlus making a name for themselves among young Australians in particular. 

close up of a tennis racket and tennis ball

Another staple in a student’s uni experience is sports, clubs and societies. 47% of students think sports is “just as important” as academics, and 22% even believe sports is more important. After a year of lockdowns and social restrictions, students will be keen to get back into the game, and Welcome Week is typically a time for young people to get involved with a sports team or club. Although some sporting events might not be accessible for the first leg of the semester, we still expect fitness to be high on the agenda for this health-conscious demographic. Sports and fitness brands should tap into this trend by offering exclusive discounts over Welcome Week – students will certainly thank you for it.

For all our tips and tricks on how to engage with Gen Z students this Welcome Week, access our Welcome Week Guide.

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