Our guest this week is Ken Wincko.

Ken is Vice President of Marketing at Barnes & Noble College, a Barnes & Noble subsidiary that operates nearly 800 campus bookstores for top academic institutions such as Harvard, Yale, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Prior to BNC, Ken held Chief Marketing Officer roles at Cision/PR Newswire & WorkWave—a field service software tech startup.

He’s also held senior-level marketing roles at Dun & Bradstreet, ADP, Citigroup, and IBM.

Join us as Ken reveals how the sudden shift to distance learning has impacted BNC, what college life might look like in the fall, and some interesting findings about Gen Z consumers and how to market to them.

Episode 81  of RETHINK Retail was recorded on May 25, 2020. 

 


Hosted by Julia Raymond
Researched, written and produced by Gabriella Bock
Edited by Trenton Waller

TRANSCRIPTION

Julia Raymond:
Hey and welcome to the RETHINK Retail show. In this episode, I’m joined by my guest, Ken Wincko. Ken is the Vice President of Marketing at Barnes & Noble College, a Barnes & Noble subsidiary that operates nearly 800 campus bookstores for top academic institutions such as Harvard, Yale, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Julia Raymond:
Prior to BNC, Ken held chief marketing officer roles at Cision, PR Newswire and WorkWave, a field service software tech startup. He’s held senior level marketing roles at Dun & Bradstreet, ADP, City Group and IBM. Ken, welcome to the show.

Ken Wincko:
Thank you very much, appreciate you having me.

Julia Raymond:
I appreciate you being here. And I wanted to ask before we jump in because you are located in the Jersey, New York area and I know that was one of the hardest place hit by the coronavirus pandemic, so how has the quarantine life been for you there?

Ken Wincko:
Interesting to say the least. I think what’s, I think, ironic about how it’s impacted this area is that we’re so used to such a fast pace, and then just to have things slow down so dramatically, it’s definitely an adjustment, whether that’s from a work perspective, and it could be a commute, right? And now none of us are commuting or very few of us, to even just the work-life balance piece, there are fewer activities obviously for kids.

Ken Wincko:
So from that perspective as a parent, and then of course the adjustment to balancing the online learning with your professional career. So definitely been an adjustment, but I think to try to stay positive and I think it makes you reflect and be grateful for some of the things that maybe you didn’t recognize previously.

Julia Raymond:
It really does. It’s funny that you said, the first thing you said was going from being very fast-paced to slow because I have noticed that. I mean the energy in the Jersey and New York area is so high, and just from personal experience emailing people based in those areas, they respond the best.

Ken Wincko:
Right. Exactly.

Julia Raymond:
It’s crazy. So yeah, I can imagine that. And online learning, I mean, gosh, it’s a big switch and I know that it’s probably something that’s close to your heart working for Barnes & Noble College. With the colleges closed right now and distance learning, the sudden shift to that, how has that impacted things with you and your career in Barnes & Noble College?

Ken Wincko:
From a career perspective, what really interested me in Barnes & Noble College is when I was going to graduate school at NYU, I actually was a marketing information systems major, and I had the opportunity to work for the university in marketing while I was there, and one of my jobs was actually to help develop the marketing programs for their campus cash program. And we launched that, and it was …

Ken Wincko:
A part of the job was to get merchants to accept the card and offer a discount of course at all their establishment within that area in New York. And then on the other side of it was, how do you get parents and students engaged? In some ways actually, and I love that role, it was great preparation for my role now. Because that was retail, it was a blend of retail and academia, and so when the opportunity came to join Barnes & Noble College, it was, for me, something that I was very excited about.

Ken Wincko:
As far as the impact of COVID, one of the things that we have done is, so we released a, or we’re about to release a survey publicly in terms of what has been the impact of COVID on learning and career? And for students, certainly, learning continues to be a challenge. And our, once again, our research, our survey shows that over 55% of students say that they’re struggling to make that adjustment.

Ken Wincko:
And it’s for various reasons, it’s conductivity, it’s a distraction, in some cases it’s assistance, so I think that certainly is understandable for sure. And then on top of that, what also is really striking is that there is a very big concern in terms of what impact COVID is going to have on their academic and professional plans.

Ken Wincko:
So over half of students indicated they’re considering changing what those plans are, and that could be for example going to graduate school, seeking additional training for professional skills, delaying a job search, maybe a change in their major, taking a semester off. So all of those things are happening right now. And then I think the final piece of it and how it’s impacting the students on the campuses is that over 70% of them work in some capacity, either part-time or full-time. Okay?

Julia Raymond:
Wow, okay. And that’s undergrad as well?

Ken Wincko:
That is undergrad, correct. That’s including undergrad. What’s interesting about it obviously too is, and this is very logical, is that 44% said that the pandemic has affected their ability to pay for college, and that’s most commonly either job loss or decreased hours. And then of course you have the impact on parents as well, where parents are furloughed, unfortunately, or potentially maybe took a pay cut or lost their job.

Ken Wincko:
So there’s definitely a lot of stress. I mean, there was already a high level of stress, and now it’s been exacerbated through this situation. So what we’re trying to do at Barnes & Noble College is to find ways where we can help really alleviate some of those challenges where we can.

Julia Raymond:
Absolutely. And I love that you brought those stats with you today, Ken, because they’re very relevant and recent with the changes that are being made to how students learn and what sort of channels they’re connecting with teachers on. Do you think that we will return back to hard print ever? I mean, is everything going to be fully digital within the next five years?

Ken Wincko:
It’s interesting because even when I came to Barnes & Noble College a couple of years ago, there had been a lot of talk about the demise of prints, and over half the students still buy at least one print material, and some students still prefer to learn through print as in terms of as a method. I don’t see going completely away. I mean, is there definitely a shift to digital? Absolutely.

Ken Wincko:
And certainly, that’s been something that I know we’ll probably talk about this in terms of what we’re doing to help support the students, and some of that is digital course materials for sure as well as other support and resources that we provide. At the same time, the print piece is a preference for over 40% of the students in terms of how they enjoy learning.

Ken Wincko:
And it depends of course on their major and type of course. So that’s where I think it’s definitely going to be … There’s definitely a big shift in terms of shifts in digital, and yet I think print will still have a role. So I don’t think it will completely go away, but I do think certainly there digital will continue to accelerate.

Julia Raymond:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Certainly. And I think people sometimes forget the majority of people are visual learners and there’s some auditory and then there’s kinetic and some are mixed, but for kinetic learners, a physical book is very important to the learning process.

Ken Wincko:
Absolutely. It’s tactile, you get your highlighter. I mean, it really depends on-

Julia Raymond:
Your highlighter.

Ken Wincko:
Yeah, how people learn. Right? And I’m being somewhat sarcastic because when I was in grad school, that’s what I did. But it is, for some people, it is still … And even, we have three daughters and they’re certainly taking online courses exclusively right now, but they’re still studying through textbooks, but then they’re also using digital courseware too. So it’s really a blend I think in terms of what that expectation is.

Julia Raymond:
Yeah. And it’s interesting because before we hopped on this episode, I read some news that almost exactly one year ago, the London-based publisher, Pearson, most of you will probably have heard of them, announced their digital-first textbook strategy. So they no longer reprint every year, it’s more every three to five years and they’re updated digitally more often. Is this what you’re seeing with most publishers nowadays? Do you think that the pandemic is accelerating this?

Ken Wincko:
Oh yes, certainly. I think especially when you think about delivery, I mean one of the things that we do is we do a major study every year called Student Pulse, and we have hundreds of thousands of students who respond to that survey. And a big data point for you to share is that over in our latest survey, which once again we’ll be releasing publicly probably in the next couple of weeks, is that over 57% of students say they weren’t prepared on the first day of class.

Ken Wincko:
And that’s for various reasons which we could get into, but I think that especially in light of this situation where you have distance learning, et cetera. And even going back to campus, now, a lot of, as you know, many schools are now announcing they’re going back to campus. Now there are certain schools and certain systems that are going to be going virtual in the fall, but my alma mater Notre Dame is going back mid-August, and they’re going to go straight through all the way through Thanksgiving.

Ken Wincko:
So I guess my point with that is that, yes, in some cases. So we want to make sure whether it’s print material or digital material that we get that in the hands of the students on that first day. So we have a program called First Day Complete, where every single student on campus gets their course material on or before the first day of class. And that could be print, whether that’s rental, new, used, what have you or digital. And of course, the benefit of digital is that once you select it online, you get immediate access once you process that.

Ken Wincko:
So there is obviously, availability is faster, right? And that’s certainly something there’s obviously added convenience to that too. But we want to make sure that we provide the flexibility to the students, to the parents to be able to say like, “Look, you can choose and we’re here for you no matter what.” And one of the benefits that we have at Barnes & Noble College is we own the complete supply chain. So when you asked about publishers-

Julia Raymond:
It’s huge. Yeah.

Ken Wincko:
… whether it’s McGraw-Hill, et cetera. So we have a business unit, MBS, based out of Missouri who has a warehouse, and that has really paid a lot of dividends for us because we’re able to get those print materials to the students. And one of the things that we did through this situation is we were able to not only supply the course materials, but we actually sent them to the students with free shipping. We traditionally haven’t done that in the past, but it’s something that we’re doing as a service to the students, to the parents, and to the administration for the campuses that we serve.

Julia Raymond:
That’s amazing. That’s good to hear because it’s been shown in recent studies that most consumers really value not only when a brand or company talks about their concerns and how they’re protecting their own employees during the pandemic, but then also helps with the social causes and helps alleviate some of the challenges especially that students are facing because you said 70% work in addition to going to college and many of them are out of a job right now or can’t work, so that’s really great.

Julia Raymond:
And you mentioned this annual survey you did, the Student Pulse, and as you and I are from marketing backgrounds, I’m really curious because marketers love to categorize by generations. So Generation Z is the majority of college students right now, people born between 1997 and 2012, so anyone who’s currently between eight and 23 years old. Are there things that you’ve seen at BNC that are clearly different when it comes to Gen Z versus Gen X, the Millennials, Baby Boomers?

Ken Wincko:
Yeah, sure. So let’s start with Gen Z. We’ve done a Gen Z report that’s available on our website, and we continue to do consistently in continuous research on Gen Z, what their preferences are, what their behavior is through our student insights practice. Gen Z, from a behavioral perspective, they’re empathetic, they’re very accepting, they’re open-minded, they’re compassionate and kind, and they want to make a difference.

Ken Wincko:
In our research, 93% of them say they believe in standing up for and helping others. And also they have this sense of independence and confidence. 88% of them believe in their individual ability to be, do, and achieve anything. So they definitely want to make a difference. And when we talk about going forward, and I’m happy to chat about this with you, is how do you market to them, what works, what doesn’t work?

Ken Wincko:
I think there are definitely things that you have to treat them in a unique way versus Gen X for example, or any other generation. For them, once again, our research actually backs up that 63% select brands that mirror their core values. And when I talked about who they are, it’s success, self-actualization, authenticity is critical, purpose, learning, friendship, adventure, having some fun too along the way.

Ken Wincko:
So they definitely feel empowered, and so brands need to be able to reflect what those core values are in their marketing and merchandising to be able to connect with them. The environment is very, very important to them. And once again in our research, over 70% of them say that they will shop more or purchase more if the materials are sustainable or the practices of that organization are sustainable.

Ken Wincko:
And also from a values perspective in terms of making a difference, an interesting piece in our latest survey that we did was that 72% of the students said that they would purchase more or support the campus store when they know that some of those proceeds of every seller are going back to support the university or college. So I think-

Julia Raymond:
Wow, okay. That’s a big number.

Ken Wincko:
… Yeah, that is a big-

Julia Raymond:
I don’t think millennials would have voted that way.

Ken Wincko:
… Yeah. And so I think it’s just, once again, I think that’s very, very interesting. And then we talked about of course that a lot of them are working, right? And while over half of them have their parents help pay for tuition, there’s still a large proportion as I mentioned, over 70% that work either part-time or full-time. And as you know, we serve, your large four-year publics, we serve small and large privates, we serve community colleges. And so what we’re seeing obviously is a big shift to a non-traditional, right, and first-generation.

Ken Wincko:
So we’re seeing increases in terms of the student population in those areas, and so it’s how do you support them and then how do you help them find balance in their academic journey? And so once again, a large majority, and I’m sure when you went to school and I went to school, we found it stressful, and a majority of them feel the same way.

Ken Wincko:
And so now what’s really interesting about it too is how do you support them academically? So we have a service called Bartleby, which has learning and writing components and tutoring. So when they have a challenge, the institutions are having trouble supporting you obviously, now you have all these students who are virtual right now, now they’ll get back to campus, but they’re looking at models to say, “How do we support them in virtual in a bigger way versus just in person as well, right, let’s say for mental health?”

Ken Wincko:
And we can help support them from a tutoring perspective, we can help support them with learning resources that complement their course materials as well as writing tools as well. So as they’re writing their papers once again to help reduce stress, help improve and drive achievement. So we’re doing those things there. And then, of course, there are things on the retail side that we’re trying to do to improve convenience as well.

Julia Raymond:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). And that’s interesting is that the resources you mention to supplement their existing course materials, is that in-house through a BNC-owned platform or what is that-

Ken Wincko:
That is correct. Yeah, so Bartleby is Barnes & Noble education business that we leverage at Barnes & Noble College obviously, and provide to the students on campuses. So it’s a direct to student model, though we’re starting to partner potentially with institutions on programs to help supplement what they do as well.

Julia Raymond:
… Mm-hmm (affirmative). And for different delivery options, is there like buy online, pickup in the bookstore nowadays? It’s been a while.

Ken Wincko:
Yeah. For Bartleby specifically, it is digital only, so it is-

Julia Raymond:
Okay.

Ken Wincko:
… Yeah, which is great. And it ties directly to their course materials, right? Like so you’ve got a biology course and then you can get supplemental learning tools, right, resources available too that you can access through a subscription, or if it’s let’s say you’re an English major in English course, writing, help an assistant.

Ken Wincko:
As far as in-store when you talk about print materials, we’ve instituted a number of different things, one is Curbside Pickup. So you walk up, you can order obviously online, and then we will come meet you at the door. Right? And certainly, safety and health are a huge priority for us, for our customers, as well as our staff, so we’ve instituted a broad set of measures on that side including social distancing measures, of course, as you would expect, plus off limit areas, obviously limiting capacity, all of those things that you would expect us to do.

Ken Wincko:
So we’re working with all of our school partners to implement that as we reopen all of those stores across campuses, across the country. And then we’ve also added in, besides the Curbside piece as we’ve talked about free shipping, to add that convenience. A big thing for us, a big focus for us, and this kind of goes back to the Gen Z question, they’re also very experiential, as you know.

Ken Wincko:
And I think, for us, we want to continue that. So does that look different in the fall? Certainly, it will. So will we still have VIP events? Yes, we are. We will have VIP events and we’ll say, “You know what, you want to pick a time to come through? Sure, let’s get a group of 10,” and we social distance through that experience.

Ken Wincko:
So we’re not going to have 50 or 100 people at a time, maybe we reduce the numbers that come through, they can contact us and they can arrange an appointment to come in, right, so almost sort of like personal shopping. We’re sending up all of those kinds of things to improve convenience, but yet still drive engagement and still drive a great experience.

Julia Raymond:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). It sounds like it. And is Curbside Pickup, is that something that you guys offered before the pandemic or was that something you had to quickly put together when it started?

Ken Wincko:
No, that’s new for us. We had probably done it on a case by case basis, but not nationwide, and now that’s something that we’re partnering with each and every one of our stores on a customized basis and working with the schools to implement right now actually.

Julia Raymond:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). And is that challenging to implement or does that process have some kinks? Because I know obviously for retail, people talked about offering Curbside Pickup for years and it didn’t happen and then boom, the pandemic hits, they roll it out and yeah, it’s not great, but it’s getting there. So is that kind of the same for you guys just considering it’s nationwide rollout?

Ken Wincko:
Yeah, and I tell you what, our operations team, our store teams do a fantastic job, our merchandising teams. Certainly there’s a marketing component. Myself and our marketing team, we work very closely with all of those groups. We have to be able to scale to be able to do this profitably and to drive growth, at the same time, we customize. So we have to be flexible at a local level, which we do.

Ken Wincko:
And so we really, I think, have what we’ve been working on, while we were kind of going through a position where some of the stores, most of our stores have been closed was saying, “How do we reconfigure our operations?” So we took that time and said, “Okay, what do we need to be doing now as we reopen?” So we’ve been working really, really hard and moving quickly to implement some of these things.

Ken Wincko:
It’s probably maybe more of a case by case basis is delivery to the dorm room, which is cool. So I know that there’s a campus that I was talking to last week that we’re going to be partnering on a program for that where when the freshmen come in, their course materials will be there, sitting for them, waiting in their dorm room, which is-

Julia Raymond:
Wow, that’s awesome.

Ken Wincko:
Yeah, which is great. Right? I mean, I would have loved that. And of course, we’re also looking at other kinds of things like with bundles, right, which we offer to our institutions where it might be general merchandise bundle, for right now it’s graduates. It’s one of the things that we have partnered with some schools where they said, “You know what, we are not having an in-person graduation,” and that was some, maybe thinking about that now.

Ken Wincko:
But they were doing a virtual graduation and they still wanted to send a package to their students, right, to congratulate them. So we partnered with them to create, okay, will they get their diploma frame, they get a pendant, they get whatever it might be, right?

Julia Raymond:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Sure.

Ken Wincko:
That it’s all packaged together and sent to them. So it’s like those things, once again, especially for Gen Z, are very, very important, and I think help them feel special, help them feel connected and engaged.

Julia Raymond:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Because you said they are comparatively more experiential as a group in terms of what they like. And you said VIP groups are something BNC offers, what does that mean when you say VIP groups?

Ken Wincko:
Oh, so what we do for incoming freshmen, we call them VIP Nights where, when they come to campus, we will arrange basically a special tour for them. We’re here as a resource, so whether it’s how do they select course materials to maybe picking out the best supplies, or here are new arrivals from a fashion perspective. So it’s really giving them that high touch.

Ken Wincko:
And what’s really, really interesting about Gen Z when you look once again at our Student Pulse research is that while they’re the digital natives and the first generation that really grew up digitally, they really love to be in-person and meet with people from a social perspective. And so we see a large majority of them shop in-store and prefer to shop in-store, whether that’s for course materials or for supplies and merchandise.

Julia Raymond:
Wow, that’s actually a bit surprising.

Ken Wincko:
Yeah. And according to our latest research, over 80% have visited the store in the last six months. Now that was probably before COVID and we haven’t done another study since the impact of this. And we do, do pull research and things like that, but definitely that kind of talks to that experiential piece and component of it. So once again, as we look at reopening and how it relates to Gen Z and how we cater to them, I think that …

Ken Wincko:
Once again, I had a meeting with my team this morning and we were talking about, “Okay, well, we’re adjusting and we’re reviewing our plan for events.” So we are going to continue to hold events on-campus for sure, so we’re just going to improve the convenience and how they do that. Like for example, reserving time slots or maybe well like I said, we’re going to do smaller groups and maybe we do a group for, “Hey, maybe this dorm goes on this day.” Right?

Ken Wincko:
And we have to do more frequent, smaller events, but we will continue to do those things and make sure that we’re practicing obviously safe and healthy habits and processes. But I think for us it’s very much about, once again, making it convenient for them, making sure that they’re engaged, and they want to be able to do that too.

Julia Raymond:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). And that’s really interesting because I also came across just briefly some article headlines, I don’t remember the source, but it claimed Gen Z is killing fast fashion because they care so much about sustainability and their core values aligning with products they purchase, like you mentioned earlier. Do you believe that statement to be true? I mean, I know fashion is a little bit outside of the retail side you’re in, but what’s your take?

Ken Wincko:
Yeah. Once again, Gen Z shops in a structured, organized fashion and they navigate to the merchandise they’re looking for, so lifestyle is a big focus for them, so let’s say wellness for example. To your point around fast fashion, so what I will say to you is that, when they talk about quality, so 45% say they prefer to own fewer but higher quality items.

Julia Raymond:
Hmm, okay. That’s significant.

Ken Wincko:
Right, according to our research. And 38% strongly agree with that price is the most important factor in my purchasing decision, which is down nine ranks from previous surveys which had been done a number of years ago. So they definitely are shopping for I think, quality, so value probably is the best phrase to use. And so I think for us it’s making sure that we have a variety of different price points depending on what they want.

Ken Wincko:
So if they want a higher-end piece, it could be within your binds, right? We also have obviously private label selection that they can purchase from too that are more value-based pricing. So I think making sure that we have what they have or what they’re looking for, that’s easy to find, and that it is presented whether it’s online or in-store in a way that they shop, once again, that piques their interest.

Ken Wincko:
So once again, it’s based on genre, for example, it’s based on category. The way we merchandise, which is called All Things Colleges is our initiative around that is to curate cross merchandise collections based on concept shops. And it could be we have a pop collection which is fashion-oriented or we have a wellness collection, we have a spirit collection obviously, we have a holiday collection when it comes to holiday season.

Ken Wincko:
So for us it’s really about keeping that assortment fresh. And once again, our merchandise team is doing a really great job of keeping that fresh. So it’s really actively to your point logistically, like making sure you’re actively managing your inventory obviously, refreshing it, and making sure that we maintain a very strong pulse on what they’re looking for, and so we’re looking at those metrics daily, weekly, monthly. And that’s where-

Julia Raymond:
That’s huge, Ken. Because it sounds like you know so much about your customers and I think that’s so important. I was watching a webinar put on by Valtech and Forrester just the other day, and Nigel Fenwick at Forrester said it’s so important for retailers to be customer-obsessed versus competitor obsessed. And it sounds like you totally are and you know exactly what they want, how they shop.

Julia Raymond:
Like you said, they’re very strategic, I don’t know what the word you used was, but they’re very strategic when they go to shop. When we look at merchandising, is that something that’s difficult because it is a bit localized to the college in terms of what you’re carrying?

Ken Wincko:
… As far as the complexity, yeah, certainly it is. And then that’s where, once again, I think our model is very unique in the industry because we are so committed to customizing the experience for each and every campus community, and so the question is, “Well, how do you do it at scale?” And so I think once again, it’s a blend of all of the different data points that we have.

Ken Wincko:
So we look at certainly national retail trends, beyond just the collegiate landscape, and we’re always looking at not just this year’s trends, but we’re looking at two or three years too, right, in advance. And then we’re looking at our collegiate national trends in terms of these are the benchmarks. So how is this store or how is this community buying versus other like stores, right, and communities?

Ken Wincko:
And then we also look at the local level, so at that individual store level. And then, of course, I’m looking at from the marketing side, I’m looking at all our channel data. So are they purchasing directly e-commerce. Are they purchasing through paid social channels as a source? Are they just going to Google search or are they going to an event or what have you?

Ken Wincko:
And so we’re really looking at all those metrics once again, daily, weekly, monthly and saying, “Okay, well where are these shifts happening?” And so we really try to stay on top of that. And then the other piece of it is we have a tiered approach where we have different sizes of schools and different sizes of stores, right? And so we can start seeing general trends where you start seeing, okay, well, these types of stores seem to, the merchandise seems to work well, this type of mix seems to work well in this type of store.

Ken Wincko:
Now, once again, it is customized school by school because every campus is completely different. Obviously, the logos are different, but it’s beyond that, it’s what their academic mission is or what are their events on-campus. And we try to tap into all of those great things happening on each and every campus, right? So we rely on the store teams to help us with that at a local level. We meet with the campus partners as well. When I mean the campus partners, I’m talking about the school administration themselves, right?

Ken Wincko:
And so there’s that piece of input in there, and we try to plan out once again in advanced notice as much as possible to be able to execute effectively on that, and of course we make adjustments. And many cases they entrust us to not just protect their brand, but enhance their brand. And so we are part of that administration in effect in helping them. So we are steward of that and we take that very seriously, and we are very committed to helping them drive their academic mission and try to be that social academic hub on-campus for them.

Julia Raymond:
And when you talked about social, you mentioned what channels did they come in through. I’d like to ask some just broad questions about what’s going on in terms of trends. So in your opinion, as the VP of marketing at BNC, do you think influencer marketing is a fad, all hype or real?

Ken Wincko:
Ah, great question, in fact I was talking about it with my team this morning in a meeting. So no, I think it’s real. And we are, I’d say redoubling our efforts in terms of influencer marketing, and that’s not just social, that’s referrals. In fact, our Student Pulse research shows when we look at factors that drive students to shop at the store, from a channel perspective, email actually surprisingly is still by far the number one channel. Okay? Which you may say, “Again, that’s pretty interesting.”

Ken Wincko:
A lot of people say they see an email, delete, delete, delete. But I think part of it is we are an official part of the campus, right, and so when we send an email, it’s basically seen as official communication from the college or university. So that is still a major source for us, and we partner very closely, not only just on the message but the cadence to all of the different constituents on campus, whether it’s students, parents, alumni, fans, right?

Ken Wincko:
The second biggest factor is word of mouth, an influencer. So whether it’s … That’s where these influencer programs. When I say we’re investing in that area through technology and a platform to say, “Let’s incentivize and hopefully help spread the word about, ‘Hey, we’ve got new arrivals.'” And so we’ve done influencer campaigns on a campus by campus-level where somebody bought one of the new fashion arrivals and posted on Instagram or whatever it might be, whatever the media platform is, and then we recirculate that of course and help promote that.

Ken Wincko:
And so engaging those ambassadors on-campus, right, which is definitely a piece also that we are focusing on in terms of an ambassador program. So we’re investing in that referral. 24% of them said that recommendations from friends are critical. So when I look at the top three, it’s emails first as I said, then it’s word of mouth and recommendations from friends. So influencer is key.

Julia Raymond:
Well, I love your take on that and it’s really interesting to see how it’s applied in your scenario targeting the collegiate population. And I just have one curious question. Ken, I know you said you went to Notre Dame’s, it’s your alma mater, were we going to see branded blue and gold face masks throughout the colleges to approve that-

Ken Wincko:
Our logoed face mask?

Julia Raymond:
… Yeah.

Ken Wincko:
Yes. It’s funny you should say that, that’s one of the things that we started working on when, as I mentioned, the stores were closed and then we were filling a lot of majority of orders online. It was, “What are we going to need to do as we reopen?” And masks are definitely going to be logoed, so we are going to have that. And in some cases there, on a case by case basis, depending on the wants and needs of the campus, we can look at other merchandise as well that may be PPE oriented. So I think it’s certainly something that … It’s interesting you and I wouldn’t be having that conversation six months ago, right?

Julia Raymond:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Right.

Ken Wincko:
Certainly, so we’ve had to pivot pretty quickly, but that is definitely something that we are doing.

Julia Raymond:
Very cool. Well, Ken, thank you so much for joining the show today, I learned a lot about Gen Z. You brought some really good recent studies from BNC. And I think it applies to all of retail really, I don’t think it’s just the collegiate population and Barnes & Noble College Bookstore, but any retailer, so thanks for joining.

Ken Wincko:
Well, thank you very much, I appreciate the time, and stay safe and healthy.