Market Overview

How Today's High School Students are Consuming Postsecondary Marketing Materials, According to New Survey from Glacier and Academica Group


New survey findings reveal institutions must take a tiered marketing approach in order to effectively market to Generation Z students.

CALGARY, Alberta (PRWEB) July 10, 2019

Generation Z is widely known among postsecondary marketing and recruitment professionals across the country as having unique needs and interests compared to those of previous generations. In fact, Facebook and Twitter, which have previously been viewed as ‘kings' in the social media space, were only used by 50% and 35% of the high school students surveyed. This finding, according to a white paper recently published by Glacier and Academica Group, is an indicator that marketing professionals at higher education institutions must craft a custom, tiered recruitment and marketing strategy in order to effectively reach today's high school students. Now more than ever, institutions need a strategy that meets Gen Z on the right platforms, with the right message, at the right time.

Gen Z spends a significant amount of time on social media platforms, but they primarily use Instagram (95%), YouTube (90%) and Snapchat (87%). While these platforms have consistently high usage among high school students, Facebook, Twitter and Reddit usage is much more common among students in grade 12 than it is among those in grade 10. These findings could mean these platforms are on the decline, or that these are platforms students start using at an older age. Overall, a mere 5% of respondents said they had not used any of the listed platforms in the past three months. What's more, social media enjoys the highest ad recall rate among the marketing channels studied, with 51% of grade 12 students and 44% of grades 10 and 11 reporting that they recalled seeing an ad on social media.Second only to social media, poster ads also enjoyed a high level of ad recall. Among grade 12 students, 40% of those surveyed recalled seeing a university or college ad or poster in their high school.

"It's no surprise that Gen Z spends a lot of time on social media, but we do find it interesting that ad recall for traditional recruitment strategies like posters, viewbooks and booths are also performing at a significantly high rate," said Jordan Wenzel, CEO at Glacier. "This points to the need for postsecondary marketers to execute a diverse channel strategy."

Driving prospects to a website is a common tactic for postsecondary institutions looking to convert high school students into applicants, and institutional websites are also the top way that high school students research their postsecondary options. Fully 82% of students said they had used university/college websites for this purpose, while nearly half had used social media/online forums to research institutions (49%). Other high-ranking research tools included viewbooks and brochures, talking to university/college students, talking to family members, and attending high school visits, booths and presentations.

"Reaching Gen Z where they are is half the battle," said Julie Peters PhD, Vice President, Research at Academica Group. "Ultimately, all marketing initiatives need to be driven by a clear sense of who the target market is, where they are in the recruitment funnel, and the goal of the given marketing initiative."

Students in grades 10 and 11 who have started thinking about their postsecondary options are relatively cursory in the ways they research these options, with looking at institutional websites (79%) and talking to family members (66%) being their most common approaches. By grade 12, the picture is much different: institutional websites (85%); viewbooks/brochures (71%); talking to current university/college students (65%); talking to family members (64%); and attending high school visits, booths and presentations from recruiters (61%) are all widely used information sources for grade 12 students who are researching postsecondary options.

This shift from cursory "grazing" on postsecondary marketing materials in grades 10 and 11 to a more engaged approach in grade 12 makes the case for schools to develop a tiered approach to marketing and recruitment, with materials tailored to grade 10 and 11 students focused on building awareness and materials tailored to grade 12 students focused on engagement and conversion.

To learn more about what's working (and what isn't) at your institution, connect with Glacier at and Academica Group at

About Glacier
At Glacier, our purpose is to inform and inspire the next generation by promoting Higher Ed institutes. With the largest high school advertising network and student influencer network in North America, Glacier is the leader in high school advertising. Whether brands are looking to build awareness, increase engagement or drive conversions, Glacier understands how to drive measurable results specifically to the higher ed industry. To learn more about Glacier, please visit

About Academica Group
Academica Group is Canada's largest research and consulting firm based exclusively in higher ed. For over 22 years, we have worked hand-in-hand with dedicated post-secondary professionals to provide the data-driven insights that help institutions fulfill their missions and change lives in the process. From marketing and recruitment initiatives to new program feasibility studies, from ad concept testing to brand research, Academica's insights have powered some of Canada's most impactful institutional projects. This work has also earned us the trust of over 28,000 higher ed professionals who receive their daily sector news through our Academica Top Ten publication. To learn more about Academica, please visit

Survey Methodology
The results presented in this report are based on a total of 1,720 surveys completed among a random sample of Canadian high school students from British Columbia (n=286), Prairies (n=479) and Ontario (n=930). All surveys were completed online via an outbound solicitation distributed by approximately 60 social media influencers across Canada.

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