How has Generation Z changed the student recruitment game?

Sponsored: Bray Leino CX explains how HE marketers can meet the expectations of their clients

Bray Leino CX delivers the experiences that your target clients and prospects expect – indeed, demand. So, let’s talk prospective students. Let’s focus on effective HE marketing.

Market maturity, a declining audience of 18-year-olds, and very public questions about the value of some degree courses – it’s fair to say that HE marketers face an increasingly tough gig, in a newly competitive landscape.

Now, throw in the fact that Generation Z (those born up until mid-’00s) behave very differently to previous cohorts and, well… tough gets tougher. The old rules of engagement just won’t cut it.

As a result, non-Russell Group HE marketers are increasingly divided into winners – those who understand and can apply the new rules of HE marketing – and those who don’t. Don’t be a don’t.

Transparency matters to Gen Z: say hello to the positive realists

The era of post-truth is giving rise to a tranche of consumers who are rejecting excessive optimism in favour of hyper-pragmatic realism. Gen Z’s lives have been touched by hate and terror crimes, environmental disasters and political failures, as well as a sharp rise in mental health issues. The experience of living through unpredictable times is causing Gen Z to gravitate towards products and services that help provide a safety net.

What do you need to do?  

Be honest. Be authentic. Keep it real. Don’t make claims you can’t substantiate. Generation Z sees through hubris. Be clear about the experiences and career results that your university delivers.

Gen Z want to learn new skills – so help fill their skills-gap. Don’t just create ads, create experiences.

They are also open to having a different kind of relationship with brands. Eight in 10 would like brands to help them learn new skills, according to a 2015 Deep Focus study. Brands also expose this demographic to new music and games as well. As a recent Forrester report advised: “To capture Gen Z’s attention, business leaders have to go beyond thinking digitally. They need to become customer-obsessed and deliver experiences founded on the pillars of empathy and delivering utility.”

Say goodbye to traditional advertising media 

It might sound harsh but your target audience doesn’t give too many cares for traditional ad platforms.

Although these age groups are the most connected audiences – the Z-generation dedicates up to four hours each day online using their smartphones – they are the most difficult audience to impact through advertising: more than half use adblockers when browsing online, 70% try to skip the ads or they otherwise avoid it at all costs.

They are hardly exposed to television and have no interest in traditional advertising media.

Find a horizon beyond HE 

There’s advertising and marketing, and then there’s Elon Musk, as Mark Wnek has recently written. You see, Elon doesn’t do advertising and marketing in the traditional sense. He doesn’t do traditional. Red Bull was the first to really own this space (pun intended). But Elon – he’s gone next level.

He executes his vision. That vision would probably sound glib if articulated: “Tesla is a symbol of human ambition and progress,” perhaps. Instead, Elon simply behaves in such a way that people ingest this truth – and it is a truth.

These are just a few of the insights from our newly published guide to effective, Gen Z-proofed, HE marketing. It’s full of insight, research and practical takeaways. Actions that you can take today to improve the effectiveness of your HE marketing.

Download the full paper now at or email Lisa, Marketing Manager, on and she’ll send it straight to your inbox.

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