Over the past several years, marketing conversations have been focused—to a point of obsession—on engaging Millennials. Millennials might be the most scrutinized generation to date, but now there is a new generation in town: Generation Z.
Gen Z is the next wave of prospective students born between the late 1990s and early 2010s—the oldest of whom are just now entering college. While some might lump Gen Z-ers together with Millennials, they are uniquely different from preceding generations. Gen Z-ers are true digital natives. They have never known life before the Internet or smart technologies.
While Millennials forged the way for Facebook, Netflix and mobile-friendly content, it’s a way of life for Generation Z. Generation Z is also uniquely diverse—with the fastest-growing segments of biracial children and LGBTQ communities in history. Gen Z-ers are more socially accepting than any other generation. While Millennials helped elect a black president and legalize gay marriage, Gen Z-ers see these milestones as the norm.
What does this mean for higher education marketers and recruiters? Here are four marketing tactics to consider for Gen Z-ers:
It’s never been more important for colleges and universities to have mobile-friendly websites. Gen Z-ers expect to consume information quickly, so multiscreen-optimization and snackable experiences are a must. Content should be image-heavy, not wordy. Try vertical video with captions, listicles or GIF blogs.
Best Practice for #highered: The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business has been vlogging and is successfully creating captivating mobile-friendly content.
Snapchat is a great way to develop user-generated content. Gen Z-ers tend to distrust brands and professional marketing. They prefer to read review boards, listen to influencers and hear from current students. Find influencers like alumni with cool stories and encourage current students to become brand advocates.
Best Practice for #highered: The University of Michigan has been successfully using Snapchat for two years.
Since Gen Z-ers are more accepting than any other generation, they want to see an appreciation for diversity on your campus. Gen Z-ers attend schools that celebrate racial diversity and embrace a policy of inclusion for LGBTQ students.
Best Practice for #highered: Cornell University has developed a holistic Diversity & Inclusion Initiative that encourages students to celebrate differences.
Gen Z-ers identified ‘career preparation’ as the single most important factor for choosing a college. With tuition and fees rising faster than ever before, it should be clear that continuing their education will lead to success. Align your marketing efforts to showcase success rates and post-graduation stories.
Best Practice for #highered: American University does a fantastic job highlighting student success with their We Know Success microsite.
Members of Generation Z are coming of age to submit college applications and will be seeking out post-graduate opportunities before we know it. How are you preparing for this evolution? Keep an eye on your target audience—monitor their behaviors, search habits and expectations—to stay ahead of the curve.