Coronavirus. A word that meant nothing a year ago, but means everything today. Never in our lifetimes have we ever experienced such a drastic change in our way of life, and such a change will be felt for years to come in all aspects of how we interact with one another.
As a business, Seed has a very close relationship with and certain duty of care for students. At this incredibly disruptive, disorientating time in their lives, we wanted to give them a platform to have their say on Coronavirus. We spoke to 300 students on March 20th, three days before the country officially went on lockdown for the first time since World War 2. Here’s what we found:
FAMILY COMES FIRST
73% of students are “very worried” about COVID-19 and its impact on their future, with a further 84% believing we should take government advice very seriously. Students are simply saying enough is enough - and are very conscious of playing their part in making sure we #Flattenthecurve
The biggest reason for this? Their friends and family.
Students are well aware they are less likely to become sick, but also aware they have the capability to pass the virus on to someone they love, and they’re not taking any chances. Moreover, students are actively calling out their friends who they have seen across Instagram still partaking in social events - they’ve assumed a global responsibility and recognise their role in the greater good.
ALL WORK AND NO PLAY
Despite this, students are understandably frustrated and disappointed at the impact on their social calendars. 86% have cancelled social gatherings such as birthday plans and nights out, with a further 35% having to cancel festivals / concerts. And they don’t believe it’s getting better any time soon, with 77% believing that their end of year ball will be cancelled.
This has been particularly tough for third year students, who have had their final year dramatically cut in half and have been denied the send-off they deserve for completing three years of hard work. Graduation is now likely to be an online event for the majority.
So, to make sure they are still entertained, Students are going online 90% more than they would’ve done in a COVID-19-free world. This industrious group plan to make good use of their time in confinement with many planning to use this time to catch up on studies, work out and even focus on self development. Ever budget conscious, 46% of students are welcoming the self-isolation guidelines as a way to save money! There’s a silver lining in everything...
However, we cannot ignore the impact isolation could have on mental and physical health. By nature, students are incredibly social - and denying face-to-face contact could have serious effects on their wellbeing at this time. 66% of students have decided to go home while 20% continue to live with uni housemates and 9% of students will self-isolate alone, down to wanting to shield vulnerable members of their family or for practical reasons. Brands can help by creating spaces and experiences online where students, their friends and family can stay safely connected at this time.
BUT PLEASE, KEEP IT REAL
Transparency and practical benevolence is vital. Students are very marketing savvy and they’re quick to spot brands looking to take advantage of a situation and just as quick to call them out on it. Brands can play an important role in providing students with practical and emotional support, but they have to be generous, factual and concise.
It’s probably not the right time for big, clever creative campaigns and more a time for just rolling up the sleeves and helping with the practical things. We found 62% of students want brands to provide correct information about the virus and situation while 36% want to see brands implementing quantity restrictions on essential items to stop people panic buying and leaving the vulnerable without anything.
Sitting for long hours indoors with extra time on their hands is a recipe for worry and unsurprisingly this boredom-averse audience will be looking for brands to provide them with entertainment and glimmers of comic relief. 45% want to see memes and 40% want live online events from brands. It’s a chance to get creative and keep the future generation entertained and informed.
73% of students are “very worried” about COVID-19. They are passionately vocal about the importance of listening the government and practicing social distancing
An overwhelming 86% have flat out cancelled their social gatherings. They’re putting their money where their mouths are.
This frees up a lot of time in their social calendars - 90% of students will be streaming content online more than usual.
But what do they want to see? 45% want your comic relief in the form of memes, 40% want a live virtual experience from brands.
If you take anything away from this, it’s that students are understandably confused and concerned and they are looking to brands and institutions for support during this time. But students also understand the sacrifice of their social and academic agenda for the greater good of the world - and it’s this pragmatic and principled mindset that will carry them through the COVID-19 pandemic.
For a link to our research, please contact us HERE