Youth Series Part 2: HE recruitment strategies for Asia

Welcome to our series on today’s youth (Gen Z, principally) and how they consume media. Over the course of these articles, we’ll look at their attitudes and needs following the pandemic, some country-specific opportunities for marketers, and channels that we think shouldn’t be overlooked. 

For well over a decade now, we’ve been working to reach, impact, empower and engage youth audiences. This is part and parcel of our role in higher education, but it’s equally important across every sector on the planet. 

The truth is: we’re excited by the potential of young people in the current generation. Sure, their world is fast-moving, busy and sometimes confusing, but they are the people with the key to our future. For this reason, we take genuine pride in getting to know our audience. It’s a matter of great importance. 

Equipped with this knowledge, we work hand-in-hand with our clients to develop campaigns, creative content, and messaging that speaks to the needs of young people. 


Gen Z is coming into its own, but that’s not news. 

What is a bit of a revelation is the role of Gen Z as a force of consumerism in the Asian continent. We’ve seen their increasing presence and sway over our last two recruitment cycles, but it’s also evident in the demographic stats. McKinsey reports that, by 2025, Gen Z will constitute a quarter of Asia’s population, the same share as Millennials. 

What has typically been a demographically top-heavy continent is now a land of opportunity for youth marketers and higher education institutions.

Prove it. 

Hybrid reached 113m prospective students in the Asian market in 2021alone. We achieved over 50m clicks, 30m engagements, and ultimately saw just under 2m students enroll at our university partners. All of these numbers come in second place only to UK student targeting. 

How? Well it’s quite a simple recipe. 

  • Channel access — China especially, but also countries like Vietnam, have stringent channel access controls. We have the authority and expertise to reach students in these nations, which can give you the edge over competitors that aren’t there yet. 
  • Researching different timelines and journeys — the school year takes on a different shape depending on the country you’re targeting. We know these cycles inside out, and so can plan nurture journeys accordingly. 
  • Personalisation — On that nurture journey, uniform comms simply won’t do. You’ve got to understand what makes Gen Z tick, and then incorporate country-specific knowledge into the equation. For example, Chinese students often want to know what safety is like before they decide to study abroad. Asian students more generally want to know what the travel links are like, and whether there’s dedicated support for improving their English language skills. 
  • Video — Unsurprisingly, Gen Z spend more time on social media any other age cohort in Asia, but video is fast becoming the most paramount aspect of these networks. Whether it’s shortform activity on Douyin/TikTok or longer form video on YouTube, Bilibili or Facebook, we know what works, and when. 
  • The ‘search for truth’ — Asia’s Gen Z population puts greater onus on ethics, diversity and sustainability than their predecessor cohorts. These three things underpin much of what they do — keep that top-of-mind when planning your next strategy on the continent.

For universities in the UK, US, Europe, and across the globe really, the Asian market now presents an opportunity for brand awareness, student engagement, and recruitment that simply can’t be missed. 

Have you noticed any other trends in the youth market recently? We’d love to hear from you.