Marketing Your Independent School to Millennial Parents

Private Schools Marketing

Millennials are the world’s leading generation. Every year, 82 per cent of babies are born to millennial parents. Find out how to market your independent school to this powerful—and unprecedented—generation.


The millennial parent

Millennials, also known as Gen Y, are those born from 1980 to 1996—though, the exact years are constantly up for debate. As of July 2019, Canada had over 10.2M people ages 20 to 39, making this generation more than 27 per cent of Canada’s overall population.

Millennials are older than people make them out to be—in 2020, the oldest millennials will be turning 40. The average millennial mother in Canada has her firstborn at 28.5 years old. This generation typically waits longer to start families, consequently splitting the target demographic nearly in half. Studies also show that an increasing number of individuals in this generation aren’t having kids at all, further narrowing the scope of millennial parents. In the United States, one in four millennials are parents, and this can be assumed to be true for Canada as well.

Habits of the millennial parent and how to cater to them

Parenting style has shifted dramatically with the turn of the generations. Here are some key points to note about how a millennial parent behaves and how your school can complement this:

Child-focused parents

Millennial parents are much more focused on their children than their relationships or marriage. This mindset means they want the best for their young ones in every aspect of their lives. 

With a hyper child-focused parent, you need to ensure you’re communicating the benefits of your school effectively. Show the parents what children are learning and doing at your school and how you’re preparing them for life.

Say goodbye to gender

63 per cent of millennial parents are raising their children as gender-neutral. Additionally, parental gender roles are much less stereotypical. Fathers look at being an involved dad as a positive trait and are therefore participating much more in raising their children. On another note, becoming a single mother is increasingly more common. The once negatively stigmatized term “single mom” is now seen as empowering. 

To accompany this gender shift, use care when advertising your school and showing gender roles. Avoid stereotyping. Show a girl becoming an engineer and a boy becoming a nurse. Also, don’t assume that you’re talking to moms in your marketing, or that both parents are raising the child. 

Online search is the new grandparent

Instead of asking their own parents or friends, millennial parents are going online to ask questions and get advice. Parent blogs, social media and search engines are at every parent’s fingertips. Being the digital natives they are, millennial parents don’t have to look far for answers. 

Over 80 per cent of initial searches are a generic phrase, like “best independent school in Toronto.” Because of this generic first search, competition is high in search rankings. 

There are a few things you can do to make your school’s website more appealing to a millennial parent: 

  • Ensure your website is mobile optimized. Initial searches are often from a cell phone, and a negative first experience with your site can put off your audience forever. 
  • Understand the importance of search engine optimization (SEO). Take advantage of keyword search and SEO marketing to have your website rank higher on Google’s search results page. If a millennial parent is typing in a generic search term, you want your website to show first in the search results. 
  • Keep all online communication methods up to date and easy to use. Don’t withhold valuable information like tuition, because millennial parents looking for that information want it fast and easy to find.

Get to know social media and encourage reviews

Another place where millennial parents look for answers is on social media. Instead of calling up one friend, a millennial parent posts on social media asking hundreds of people for advice or recommendations. This crowdsourcing includes reading online reviews.

Develop a social media profile for your school and post consistently, keeping communication transparent and frequent with your online community. Encourage parents to leave reviews. Reviews will help persuade prospective millennial parents to inquire further. If possible, film testimonials with alumni students or parents to enhance a search for reviews of your school.

Brand trust takes time

44 per cent of millennials say they shop with brands whose political and social values mirror their own. Millennial parents need to trust a brand before they develop a relationship with it. 

Think about your school as a helpful resource for parents. When you make their life easier, you can create brand recognition, and then brand trust. Perhaps consider running a blog on your school’s site. For instance, if a parent searches “helping my child understand emotions,” you want them to read your blog post. You’ll be helping them with an issue while also exposing them to your school’s website.

OVERVIEW: Summary of the steps you can take to successfully market to millennial parents

What we learned: 

  • Be transparent and show your school’s benefits. Focus on providing quality education and useful life preparation.
  • Don’t assume any gender roles of a child or parent. Make a conscious effort not to be stereotypical in messaging or imagery.
  • Optimize your website for mobile and actively practice search engine optimization. Make your website easy to use and navigate, always displaying valuable information in easy-to-find spots.
  • Keep your school engaged on social media. Encourage parent reviews and gather testimonials from students and alumni.
  • Make parents’ lives easier whenever possible. 

If you want to market to millennial parents effectively, you have to understand how they think and act. These simple steps will get you on the right track. The majority of your new students will have millennial parents, so staying ahead of the curve is crucial to keeping your private or independent school successful. 

Remember, if you want to market to millennials, rather than interrupt them, try to become more relevant to their lives and their goals.

Want to understand marketing to the millennial parent further? Contact us today.


Get marketing insights straight to your inbox.