Brands, here’s your guide to helping to make this freshers one to remember – whether students are quarantining or not.
Nobody quite knew what freshers would look like until students began to arrive. But now that they have, reality has firmly set in: entire student flats have found themselves to be COVID-19 positive, and freshers have quickly got to know each other as unis imposed quarantine periods on all newly-arriving students.
Of course, Gen Z is adaptable. Many have found TikTok fame in this bizarre time of isolation, vlogging the antics of their flatmates as they swap club nights and lectures for nights in and communal cooking. Students got creative with post-it notes, and now accommodation windows in the worst-affected cities – Manchester, Liverpool, Nottingham and Newcastle – are plastered with tongue-in-cheek messages to neighbours.
That said, this isn’t the uni experience that anyone signed up for. So what can Gen Z’s favourite brands do to help new students through this bizarre first term?
The practical stuff
For the short term, whole accommodation blocks of students are unable to head out into the world – which has raised some practical issues. While unis have stepped in to provide food packages for quarantining students, it’s safe to say that they’ll be in need of ample takeaways to bond with each other. After all, nothing lifts the spirits quite like a pizza delivery – especially one with a hefty discount. Food, drink, and restaurant brands – make sure you’re catering to students that can’t leave their accommodation right now. And maybe once they’re done quarantining, they’ll come and see you in person.
There’s also the question of clothing. For the students now spending their days indoors, it’s a flashback to the lockdown of April, which was dominated by comfy clothes and new loungewear for many. Even for students who aren’t in full quarantine, the full night-out experience has been swapped for pub visits and more low-key socialising. Now is a good time to pivot to loungewear ranges, as students will no doubt be embracing a comfier aesthetic.
Appeal to the positives
Gen Z is known for having a slightly offbeat sense of humour. And if the social media posts of students in quarantine are anything to go by, it seems that a number of students are opting to cope with their new-found quarantine by laughing their way through it. Of course, for the students who find themselves in close quarters with new flatmates, it’s a bonding experience like no other. You can appeal to the positives of this time period, and help Gen Z to see the funny and exciting side of this new period of their lives. Offering giveaways and competitions is a great way to recreate the offerings of freshers fairs, and bring quarantining students a pick-me-up.
Balance your messaging
While some students have been lucky enough to bond with their flatmates and make the best of it, this isn’t a universal experience, and not everyone will be enjoying freshers during the quarantine. Different student households are also likely to be in quarantine at different times. While it’s good to pick up on the camaraderie of the students who are bonding during quarantine, make sure your messaging is inclusive of those who are finding this time period isolating and overwhelming. Keep your messaging balanced and inclusive of all first-year students, no matter what their experience has been for the past few weeks.
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