Students and young people in general are known to be quite an elusive group to target.

Over 90% of students globally fall into the 16-24 age group, and were brought up in a high-tech world with an abundance of information at their fingertips. With this in mind, it can often seem like a significant feat to be able to engage and sustain relationships with this audience.

They’re constantly connected and expect more from brands than just advertisements.

In this week’s chart, we take a look at the types of media that students (90% 16-24s) tune into on a daily basis, and what this means for brands.

We’ll also cover the types of media and entertainment they’re willing to pay for, analyzing how entertainment is increasingly defining the role that brands play among students.

As true digital natives, unknown to a world without smartphones, it comes as no big surprise that students spend time consuming a variety of online media. But just how much are they consuming, and where?

What keeps students entertained?

Students are spending most of their time each day on social media (around 3 hours) and on music streaming services (over 1.5 hours).

Music plays a key role in students’ lives, whether it’s being consumed while chilling with friends, studying, or simply on-the-go. The most popular apps that students engage with each month on a global level are music on-demand services, Spotify (31%) and Soundcloud (22%).

On a regional level, Amazon Prime Music and Apple Music have higher student engagement in Asia Pacific and North America than any other region. However, only a small number of these are paid accounts.

Globally, just 11% of students use a paid account for Spotify.

This may be a result of students’ lower than average income levels and how easy it is to share accounts with others.

They value on-demand content.

This theme of wanting on-demand entertainment extends to watching TV. Time spent on online TV and streaming entertainment now makes up more than an hour of their average day, accounting for 14% of their total daily media consumption.

Having grown up with smartphones in hand, this group is used to having information and content on-demand.

42% use Netflix and 20% use Amazon Prime to watch their favourite on-demand shows.

That said, they still spend more time watching linear TV than online. Interestingly, 50% of students watch live TV as it’s broadcast 2-3 times a week or more, which takes up around 1 hour and 20 minutes of their average day. This is likely to be driven by regional or country-specific phenomena.

For example, in the UK, reality TV shows such as Love Island have been extremely popular among young people, and globally students are 18% more likely to be interested in reality TV than the average user.

They use social media as an entertainment hub.

Social media is evolving. From a place where people would simply keep in touch with friends, it’s now more of an “entertainment hub” where they can keep up with news, watch entertaining videos and learn about new brands and products.

Students spend close to 3 hours on social media every day and spread their time across various platforms. But it’s Youtube that takes the top spot, with 80% of students accessing the site daily or more often, reiterating the importance of entertainment and video content.

They’re also 84% more likely to use Snapchat and 49% more likely to use Instagram than the average user.

This reinforces the idea that they like bite-sized, easily digestible and visual content.

48% of students use social media to find funny or entertaining content, with a significant amount following actors (48%), singers and bands (47%), or comedians (34%) online. They also over-index significantly for following celebrities or celebrity news, suggesting that influencer marketing has potential for this group if concerns over transparency and authenticity among influencers are addressed.

They care about the news.

Students also care strongly about being well-informed, and this is evident with 44% of them using social media to stay up-to-date with the latest news.

They actually spend nearly as much time reading online press than their older counterparts. This also confirms social media’s strengthening role as a news platform, especially among younger consumers.

They’ll pay, if it’s fun enough.

Students are not just after freemium content, and even though most students are living at home with their parents and are earning less than average, 70% of them are shopping online every month.

This extends to spending money on entertainment, and we can clearly see that as 1 in 4 students have paid for music content and 1 in 5 have paid for a mobile game within the last month.

They’re also 25% more likely to buy a mobile game online than the average user. This presents an opportunity for music and gaming brands to leverage, particularly in terms of finding innovative ways to integrate into games and live-streams of these games on sites like Twitch.

The hugely popular game, Fortnite, has made significant revenues using in-game monetization through microtransactions, and has emerged as one of the most watched games via game streaming sites where viewers can reward players with gifts via micro-transactions.

These small purchases don’t necessarily always add a competitive advantage for players. For example, things they can buy include outfits to customize their avatars, but this is a great example of a brand that has won over its audience.

They value personalized marketing.

All these different entertainment media offer countless opportunities for brands to engage with students. And students are keen to engage with brands if they tailor their offerings to them, because they are a savvy cohort due to the increased exposure to brand communications online.

For example, almost 1 in 5 are willing to use a branded app or play a branded game, and almost a quarter of students engage with brands on social media.

However, just as students are willing to engage with brands on these mediums they’re also more likely to disengage with brands – for example, students are 18% more likely to unfollow brands on social media than the average user.

Brands therefore have to work hard to keep them engaged and since students juggle many different devices at once, brands who can offer them a multi-device optimized content strategy that is entertaining and valuable for students is a winner.

They value customer reviews.

Students also care about what others think about brands and products, whether through good comments on social media or customer reviews, and this drives their purchasing behavior. Access to exclusive content like music and videos is also a key driver of brand advocacy compared to the average user.

Almost 1 in 4 say they may be encouraged to spend money online if they see good comments/likes from others, and more than 37% care what customer reviews say.

Having open, transparent and real interactions with students online is essential to successfully engaging them.

Overall, it’s important that brands understand how students behave online, use the right channels, and consider ways that they can create an entertaining experience for students to fit into their busy school and revision schedules.

This could be through using interactive ads and online games, funny video content, or strategic partnerships with influencers students care about in order to successfully target this audience.

But when they do this, brands need to ensure they are genuine and transparent in their interactions with students in order form a strong and sustainable connection and drive brand loyalty.

Click to access our connecting the dots 2021 report

Written by

Katie is a Senior Trends Manager at GWI. She’s an avid baker and Harry Potter fanatic, who loves to binge-watch all the latest shows. When she’s not busy whipping up a cheesecake or watching murder-mysteries, you’ll find her exploring what makes consumers tick.

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