Introducing the new kids on the university block: Generation Z
Their favourite colour is notice-me-yellow and they’re known for their digital savviness and entrepreneurial spirit. But what do higher education professionals like yourself need to know about this new generation and how does their behaviour influence your student recruitment strategy?
Who is Generation Z?
Born between the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, Generation Z or Gen Z are today’s teenagers and they’re about to start stepping onto university campuses around the world. They’re the first demographic ever that doesn’t know life without internet and technology. This group doesn’t necessarily respond to large-scale ad campaigns and tries to maintain a zesty energy and optimism. Gen Z’ers will be the next power players for universities since they are beginning to make decisions about their education path. That is why it’s crucial for higher education professionals to get to know this new generational cohort, understand their mindset, and discover what they expect from their education. That way, you can plan and execute your student recruitment strategy in a way that brings as many engaged students as your programmes need.
A suitable disclaimer before we dive in deeper would be that this generation’s characteristics are based on major influencers and on the impact of external events such as digitalisation. Yet it’s important to bear in mind that not all individuals share these qualities equally, nor do they like to identify themselves with the term “Gen Z” for that matter box we put them in. We encourage you to approach this article as a guiding source for your future interactions with people from this generational group, knowing that there can be many individual deviations from these rules.
Why is Gen Z important?
What makes Gen Z’ers so important is the fact that they’re the largest generation humankind has ever had. Needless to say, the mark they’ll leave on the world is bound to be massive. Also, in the context that this is a generation that doesn’t necessarily feel heard yet, this is the perfect moment to stop and listen to what they have to say since they are just about to join universities as students.
8 things you need to know about Gen Z
They want to get personal – Generation Z appreciates communication that is authentic, emotional and genuine. This will make marketing one of the most interesting and challenging priorities in the upcoming years for universities, having to cater to those different tastes, alongside with the rising demand for automation.
They have a shorter attention span – The attention span of Gen Z is roughly 8 seconds, compared to millennials’ 12 seconds, and their capacity to hyper-process information is faster than ever. Additionally, Gen Z’ers are far more likely to engage with content from brands they actively follow, which means universities will need to consider how they’ll build relationships that this generation will cherish.
They’re considerate of their money – Raised during a time of economic hardship and having witnessed an economic crisis first hand, the young generation is very aware of our economically troubled reality. Thus, they place a better value on money and are much more inclined to make smart investments. And what could be a more important investment than their academic and professional future?
They’re self-starters – The entrepreneurial spirit has been growing with each generation, and Gen Z’ers are more inclined to pursue an independent career path. They believe in the difference businesses can make, taking inspiration from prosperous companies like Google and Youtube. Entrepreneurship is at the top of their aspirations and some are already leaving their mark on the economy.
They value transparency – In today’s supply-and-demand-driven world, the consumer is the one to run the show. Brands need to be careful about the story they tell about themselves, while many times they don’t even get to be the narrators. Equally, consumers’ exposure to brands has reached an all-time high. This is where big data has an opportunity to lay the foundation of a meaningful brand-customer dialogue, which will disclose valuable insights about Gen Z online behaviour and preferences.
They want to co-create culture – Gen Z’ers are culture creators, not only consuming entertainment but also being a key part of creating and redefining it. Try to include them in creative pursuits and activities, and showcase what creative possibilities they would have within certain study programmes. They are capable, connected and highly value originality, that is why they tend to produce and share precisely this type of content online.
Their colour is yellow – While millennials had their “millennial pink”, a new colour is taking over the streets and runways – the “Gen Z yellow”. Bright, energising, optimistic and gender-neutral, that’s the vibe we get from it and the young people who wear it. Regarding marketing materials, try to include colours and visuals that best represent your brand in an active, energizing role.
They want to change the world – For the better. Not only do they care about the current environmental, social and economic state of our planet, they are tech-savvy, aware and driven enough to instil some radical changes. Our hopes for a promising future are even higher with Generation Z on the forefront!
Being the generation of true digital natives, Gen Z knows better than anyone how to skim through tons of overwhelming information, and how to find exactly what they need when they need it. Marketing to them will require a better, more engaging, trust-building and authentic approach, which just might revolutionise many of the deeply-rooted traditional positioning practices out there.
How is your university planning on attracting this group? What communication channels will you use to reach them in a meaningful manner? Get in touch with our team at firstname.lastname@example.org and find out how to best approach this new generation, based on our interactions with 28 million students from all around the world!
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