All Articles Marketing Marketing Strategy Scholarships help brands reach Gen Z

Scholarships help brands reach Gen Z

How marketers are using scholarships to build brand trust and connections with this demographic.

3 min read

MarketingMarketing Strategy

college debt and Gen Z


Marketing your brand to Gen Z is no easy task – especially with supposed short attention spans and ad blocking software. Marketers are now looking to solve the issue of how to reach this younger demographic by focusing on college debt.

Scholarship-based marketing campaigns are benefiting students and being used to generate brand trust and connection, broaden audience reach, expand audience diversity, and reduce marketing spend.


How brands are using scholarships

Brands such as Subway and Dunkin’ are investing in scholarship initiatives to build loyalty with Gen Z consumers.

Dunkin' scholarship fund
Dunkin’s DMV Regional Scholarship Program

The Subway Fresh Start Scholarship granted $625,000 in scholarship funding to 250 of its employees across the US, Puerto Rico, Canada and Australia, QSR reports.  “Tuition assistance is one of the three pillars of our mission. Providing that assistance allows us to fuel the potential of these outstanding students and future leaders,” said Michele DiNello, executive director of the Subway Cares Foundation. 

Dunkin’ teamed with Scholarship America to launch its first Regional Scholarship Program this year, which is investing $100,000 in scholarships to college and high-school students across the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, according to a press release.

Duck Tape held its 22nd annual Stuck at Prom Scholarship Contest, which rewards students with $10,000 college scholarships for the best prom outfits created using the brand’s duct or crafting tapes. One of this year’s winners spent 143 hours and used 45 rolls of duct tape to design her dress, Fox News reports

Gucci just announced the winners of its North America Changemakers Impact Fund and Scholars Program, which include 12 recipients who each get a $20,000 academic scholarship along with a 6-week virtual internship at Gucci America, per Women’s Wear Daily.


The scholarship opportunity for marketers

We already know Gen Z wants a personalized experience from brands, and that more than 60% of both Gen Z and millennials use ad blockers, making them a particularly difficult audience to reach. 

What could be more personalized than offering scholarships that provide Gen Z consumers with a solution to one of their biggest problems?

“Instead of feeling targeted by a brand, students feel recognized and supported and they proactively engage with the scholarship provider,” according to the ScholarshipApp blog. The blog also notes marketers “can decrease customer acquisition costs 2-3 times compared to traditional advertising platforms and reach the much coveted Gen Z audience.”

Tools such as ScholarshipApp and college scholarship platform Kaleidoscope Group can help marketers create their scholarship marketing programs. Kaleidoscope Group this year launched an Award Builder self-service program that enables brands to create scholarship marketing programs for free via its platform and connect with students, according to Forbes

As Gen Z are redefining the way marketers engage with consumers, expecting a more authentic relationship with brands that reflect their own values, scholarships could be an invaluable way to build lifelong relationships with them.

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