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8 out of 10 College Students Believe Pandemic Will Impact Fall Term

Back to School Report reveals support students need and how brands can help

Portland, OR., and Boston, MA. —April 28, 2021— SheerID, the verification platform used by hundreds of leading brands around the world, and Riddle & Bloom, the Ideas & Access agency specializing in connecting brands with the Next Generation of consumers, announced the results of their Back to School for Marketers report today. SheerID and Riddle & Bloom partnered to survey more than 900 college students in the U.S. and Canada, as well as more than 400 students from France, Germany, and the UK.

The report also reveals Gen Z students’ current shopping habits and sentiment toward the college experience, offering brands actionable insights into how to best engage this next generation of consumers. While marketing to college students always had its own set of challenges, marketing to them now requires understanding how the pandemic has shifted their behavior, requiring some marketers to reshape their strategies. 

Local governments continue to make progress with vaccine distribution, however, eight out of 10 students are still concerned that COVID-19 will have a large or some effect on the Fall 2021 school term. Students responded that impacts their plans, as 23% said it would delay some purchases, 67% of students stated they currently live off-campus or at home with family and 60% said they would take extra safety precautions heading back in the fall.

“Brands can and should act no matter what, as the ongoing redefinition of normalcy takes shape from the pandemic. This is well-evidenced by the 21% global increase in redeemed personalized offers by students,” said Jake Weatherly, CEO at SheerID. “This past year we saw a doubling down of community by students as peer networks expanded, communities were formed and strengthened online, and students organically responded to the change and challenge of the pandemic.”

For brands, there is a tremendous loyalty opportunity if they are able to take advantage of both the behavioral insights and brand interaction preferences to cater to the students’ retail needs. In fact, more than 78% of students said they would try a brand or product if they received a student discount code and if they heard about the offer from a friend or family member.

“It’s important for brands to keep in mind that college students are a very reachable and engageable audience that is still buying despite the changes and challenges of this past year,” said Henry Lichtblau, Vice President of client solutions at Riddle & Bloom. “Brands that understand the importance of student identity and student community affiliation to Gen Z college consumers will win with this segment whose shopping and spending has stayed steady or increased in the past year.

Marketers can engage students if they keep in mind that students Identify with being in college, value their student communities, and are motivated by peer recommendations and financial incentives. These insights and more can be found in the Back to School for Marketers report. 


About SheerID

SheerID is the leader in identity marketing. With SheerID, brands identify and acquire consumer communities — such as the military, students, teachers, and more — with personalized offers, gated by instant verification from the largest set of authoritative data worldwide. SheerID verifies over 2.5 billion people via 200,000 authoritative data sources; provides global insights from hundreds of the world’s leading brands, and never shares or sells customer data. As a result, the world’s biggest brands — including Amazon, Lowe’s, Spotify, and T-Mobile — rely on SheerID as their identity marketing partner. Founded in 2011, SheerID is backed by Arnold Venture Group, Centana Growth Partners, CVC Growth Partners, and Voyager Capital.


About Riddle & Bloom

Riddle & Bloom – a Wasserman company – is an Ideas and Access agency that builds solutions born of insight, expertise and access to create meaningful relationships with the ‘Next Generation’ – Millennial and Gen Z consumers and the brands that matter to them most. A leader in college consumer marketing over the last 10 years, Riddle & Bloom brings an integrated approach to reach this larger audience mix through: experiential marketing, student ambassador programs, digital strategy, social and e-commerce solutions, to help leading brands understand and engage with today’s next wave of consumers nationwide. Through its exclusive industry partnerships with NACA, NACAS and NIRSA, Riddle & Bloom has a network encompassing more than 1,000 colleges and universities, extending to post-college Millennials and younger Gen Zs. For more information, visit:

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