Three Ways that Higher Education Marketers Are Adapting to a Millennial Audience

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Over the last year, we’ve completed more than 1,000 research reports commissioned by our 300+ Higher Education clients. One of the trends we’re seeing is that Higher Education marketing departments are looking for ways to strategically adapt to reach the millennial audience. Millennials are the primary market for most higher education institutions, but need to be marketed to very differently than previous generations. This, coupled with the growing competitiveness among colleges,  is driving urgency among colleges and universities to deploy effective marketing tactics to better reach Millennials. Here are three ways they’re doing it:


  1. Launching increasingly targeted campaigns –Millennials are less tolerant of mass marketing tactics, as they are the first generation to come of age with sophisticated digital marketing. At the same time, a rising number of students now use social media to research colleges. As a result, many higher education institutions are taking advantage of advancements in digital technology to shift to micro-targeted, segmented marketing campaigns.
  1. Building brands centered on “authenticity” – In the private sector, Millennials are 70% more likely to engage with brands that address social causes. In the last year, we have seen our higher education clients conduct more mission-related brand perception surveys.
  1. Addressing financial aspects of the college experience more directly – According to Northeastern University’s National Survey, teens aged 16-19 care more about college affordability than any other issue, including climate change and social stratification. We saw many of our clients request “Sticker Price Elasticity” analyses to understand how tuition and pricing impacts student decision-making.


Evolving marketing strategy is just one of the five major trends that we uncovered as we evaluated our past year in Higher Education research. As part of our Insight Series, the Hanover Trend Report: Higher Education unpacks the most pressing institutional challenges, providing multiple perspectives on the shifting higher education landscape.

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