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Inspired Multicultural Advertising in Higher Ed: Who you Talkin’ to?

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Multicultural Advertising is a MUST for any Predominantly White Institution (PWI) in higher education.

Let’s face it.  The stats are not in your favor if you are a primarily white institution in higher education that is not currently engaging with minoritized populations in 2022.  Studies have repeatedly shown the demographic of this great nation rapidly moving towards a balance of more diverse groups. Some have coined this “minority white,” one of many terms used to describe the minority population growth continuing to trend upward in this decade alone. 

A Sign of the Times

Leveraging multicultural advertising to forge ahead in re-establishing your institution’s relevancy as the epicenter of where change, innovation and evolution can collide, will not be enough.  You must talk to prospective students in the language they understand both literally and figuratively.  And you better be authentic, or you will get canceled.  This is where multicultural advertising and influence comes in.

Let the Data Speak

The U.S. Census estimated in 2020 that nearly four of 10 Americans identified with a race or ethnic group other than white. It also suggested that the 2010 to 2020 decade was the first in the nation’s history in which the white population declined in numbers.  This trend only continues to rise in meteoric proportions.  According to the Census, by early as 2030 half the nation will identify with a minority or ethnic group other than white.

Beginning in 2030, net international migration is expected to overtake natural increase
as the driver of population growth in the United States because of population aging.

Demographic Turning Points for the
United States: Population Projections
for 2020 to 2060, Census.gov

How is this possible? The numbers don’t lie. 

In 2019, for the first time, more than half of the nation’s population under age 16 identified as a racial or ethnic minority. Among this group, Latino or Hispanic and Black residents together comprised nearly 40% of the population.


The non-Hispanic White
population is projected to
shrink over coming decades,
from 199 million in 2020 to
179 million people in 2060—
even as the U.S. population
continues to grow. Their
decline is driven by falling
birth rates and rising number
of deaths over time as the
non-Hispanic White population ages.

In comparison, the
White population, regardless
of Hispanic origin, is projected
to grow from 253 million to 275
million over the same period.

Demographic Turning Points for the
United States: Population Projections
for 2020 to 2060, Census.gov

Given the greater projected growth of all non-white racial minority groups compared to whites — along with their younger age — the racial diversity of the nation that was already forecasted to flow upward from the younger to older age groups looks to be accelerating.

So how will PWIs fair in this new reality? 

It’s about a matter of perspective.  If they continue to operate and communicate to the “traditional” student population and keep things status quo, irrelevance will become a barrier and their potential demise.  

Demonstrating you “know” your student and understand how to talk to them, where to reach them and what matters to them will be essential to capturing their minds, spirits, and deposits for the future class years to come.

International group of young multicultural people taking selfie

Is College Information Relevant?

According to Niche partners, Students are not receiving information about college that they feel is relevant to them. More than 50% of students started their college search before junior year.  However, only 16% said that the outreach they’ve received was personalized and met their needs. We all know personalization adds time and effort to enrollment strategies, but it’s necessary and can make all the difference in attracting a new generation of youth to PWIs.  

Get With the Times

Multicultural advertising in not just a notion, it’s an agreement and acknowledgment that if marketers take the time and due diligence to learn what matters to their audience and demonstrate they know how to engage them with their values, motivations and needs understood, they will respond accordingly.  People pour into the people that pour into them.  How are PWI’s pouring into minoritized groups today?  Those that do it well, we’ll reap long term benefits. 

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