Graduate School of Business


Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


Chris Huseman


Marketing, Higher Education, Gen Z, Digital Marketing


Business | Marketing


U.S. Higher Education institutions (HEIs) have faced declining enrollment since 2011. At the same time, the generational cohort of first-time freshman changed from Millennials to Gen Z students, bringing with them a change in wants, needs, and values. A qualitative multiple case study was conducted to understand how to attract Gen Z students to Higher Education Institutions. The two research questions were: 1) What marketing strategies are successful HEIs using to attract Generation Z students? and 2) What are they doing differently to attract Gen Z compared to Gen X or Y? This study was based on marketing theory, generational theory, and the concept of higher education. Marketing theory suggests that product, price, place, and promotion along with a target market are necessary for success. Generational theory suggests that what worked in the past will not necessary be effective today due to the changing values and desires of a generation. To identify learnings, marketing staff were interviewed from five institutions which have successfully increased their enrollment of Gen Z students since 2013. The findings from the research indicate that the Four P’s of marketing remain critical components in attracting this audience. Additionally, a focus on utilizing data to develop marketing strategies was found to be effective, along with a collaborative culture. Institutions can apply learnings by implementing data sharing across campus, cultivating a collaborative culture, using data to develop specific target markets, creating a clear brand, and investing in digital marketing strategies such as website and social media. In conclusion, the results of the study describe how successful HEIs are attracting Gen Z students. The learnings can be implemented at other institutions to help them fulfill their purpose of educating and training students.

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