For the past year, all eyes have been on technology – literally. But how do Gen Zs plan to interact with this sector once the pandemic subsides?
The future is app-first
Through no choice of their own, Gen Z students have been catapulted into a world of hyperconnectivity this past year. The internet became the non-negotiable default for socialising, learning, escapism and more. But what’s their preferred method of tapping into this infinite digital world?
Gen Zs spend, on average, 10% longer per month in non-gaming apps than their older counterparts, according to research by AppAnnie. 60% of students surveyed in our UK Student Shopping Report said they’d visit an app if they knew they wanted to buy something – the figure is 59% in the US.
As digital natives, Gen Zs have a unique ability to switch seamlessly between digital and offline experiences. From their internet-infused vocabularies to their digital-first attitudes to dating and socialising, they were perhaps the demographic best-equipped for a lockdown. For a generation that thrives on switching between URL and IRL (rather than immersing themselves fully in one or the other), apps are the way to go. Gen Z dating, networking, shopping and more will be deep-rooted in apps going forward.
Virtual learning will stick around
No doubt you have your own perspective on working from home during the pandemic. Some of us are craving office life, others are happy to embrace their kitchen-table setup for the long term, and a third group still would be happiest with a mix of both.
With in-person study on the not-too-distant horizon, students are facing a similar dilemma. And while they’re raring to get stuck into the social side of uni, when it comes to in-person classes, they can take it or leave it. When we asked UK students what they’re most excited to do post-lockdown, attending in-person classes was hugely outranked by things like spending time with friends and family (91%), going out for dinner (77%) and in-person entertainment (73%).
The situation is similar in the US. “I think I am going to actually stick to how I am learning now, and maintain a good mix of traditional, hybrid, and online classes”, says Margaret, an 18-year-old Nursing student. “Even if traditional classes are offered,I might take a few, but I definitely want to keep some hybrid classes.”
Tech to support virtual learning and work has already accelerated dramatically during the pandemic – from VPN technology to virtual classroom software that facilitates collaboration and e-learning. And of course, students uptake of tech accessories such as headphones and other wearable devices has skyrocketed. If virtual learning remains firmly on the agenda for students’ future, these tech trends will only continue to develop.
The worlds of gaming and ecommerce will collide
There were two tech-based activities that dominated the lockdown for students – shopping online, and gaming. 75% of US students are regular gamers, with mobile games being their preferred method.
Like most other demographics, Gen Zs also increased their online shopping habit as a result of lockdown – with 45% saying that they’re shopping online more. This deviates slightly from their preference – despite being digital natives, Gen Zs still prefer to mix online and instore shopping. This is particularly true of higher value products, such as tech and mobile – 73% would prefer to head in-store for this type of purchase.
With this usual in-store experience currently off the table, brands have had to get creative to engage with Gen Z. Dominos, for example, saw outstanding results when they launched a gamified, digital spin-the-wheel offer for students during Freshers. Gamification works so well for Gen Zs because it enables them to tap into experiential retail without even leaving home. We predict gamification and ecommerce will exist in tandem in the post-pandemic landscape – think virtual try-ons, choose-your-own-adventure user journeys, interactive competitions and more.
The future is in the hands of Gen Z. Learn what it holds for tech brands by subscribing to our newsletter, Student Beans Insights.