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2020 is the year of reimagination.
2020 is the year of reimagination. From Zoom weddings to socially distanced graduation ceremonies, we’ve completely overhauled the way we approach interpersonal interactions. And education has been no different. This year’s back-to-school frenzy looked a little different, with preparations for flexible schedules, classroom cohorts, and widespread distance learning modules.
But COVID-19 isn’t the only thing that’s reimagining the educational experience these days. Even before the global pandemic took hold, a new generation of students started matriculating into colleges and universities across the country, demanding a new way of doing things.
Believe it or not, Generation Z—born roughly between 1997 and 2012—is no longer just a generation of kids on TikTok. The older Gen Zers have already completed undergraduate education and are advancing to the next phase of their adult careers. And according to a 2018 survey conducted by the National Society of High School Scholars, nearly 40% of students expect to work in health or medicine-related fields.
Therefore, now is the time for brands to begin laying the strategic framework for how to reach this new generation of HCPs. The brands that learn when, where, how, and with what types of educational information these emerging HCPs wish to engage will be the ones that have the upper hand in not only exceeding Gen Z expectations, but also exceeding their future brand goals.
WHEN AND WHERE: Always-accessible digital integration
It should come as no surprise that the generation of digital natives isn’t looking for education to be confined to a physical classroom. Based on their exposure to on-demand information and the normalization of work-from-home for their parents, these students believe that technology affords them the ability to learn from anywhere.
They also expect the format of information to evolve to be available on demand digitally with low barriers to access. According to a study conducted by FutureCast and Barkley, these students spend an average of nine hours a day interacting with digital content. Ninety-five percent of them report watching YouTube daily, consuming an average of 70 videos per day, according to “An Insider’s Guide to Generation Z and Higher Education 2019” by the University Professional and Continuing Education Association. While online video and interactive tutorials are the most preferred source of information, Gen Z is also open to learning via other digital platforms, including podcasts, websites, and Internet-based educational games.
HOW: Hands-on interaction with real-time feedback
Gen Z is a generation of doers. Although the oldest Gen Zer hasn’t yet reached their 25th birthday, more than one-third of Gen Z students either currently have their own business or plan on having one in the future, according to a study by Barnes & Noble College. And as a carry-over from their social media experience on platforms like Snapchat and TikTok, they love to not only consume content, but also to create it. This makes Gen Z students extremely active learners. They dislike passive listening during lectures, and over 50% say they learn best by doing, according to the same study.
Gen Z is also keen to keep tabs on their performance and improvement. Born into a highly responsive and real-time world where the number of “likes” immediately determines the effectiveness of a post, Gen Z is accustomed to the constant feedback loop of digital dashboards and expects that same in-the-know experience in their education as well.
WHAT: Highly relevant, bite-sized content
Gen Zers are highly motivated by personal satisfaction and are particularly focused on pursuing personal interest. Because of this, they value relevancy above all else and want to quickly weed out what is nonessential to them. Because of their natural predisposition to discover, self-educate, and process large amounts of information quickly, they prefer information that is bite-sized, succinct, and visual in natural. They are constantly looking for ways to maximize the best use of their time and want to be served the information that will be most helpful in reaching those personal goals.
So, as the pharmaceutical industry learns how to navigate the new world of resonating with this emerging generation of HCPs, it’s important to keep in mind the importance of crafting an experience that meets their expectations for optimal engagement—or else you risk being deemed irrelevant by their eight-second attention spans and passed right on by.
Molly Hudish is a brand strategist in Fingerpaint’s Conshohocken, Pa., office. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.