Lessons From Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour: Adapting to Change in Higher Ed

Author: Mollie Nolan

In Brief:

  • · Taylor Swift is making a massive impact on pop culture and economies worldwide.

    · Higher education institutions can learn a lot about Swift’s ability to adapt to change and leverage challenges to increase her success.

Blog Post

It’s no secret that Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour (and her catalog of music) is making a massive impact on pop culture and economies worldwide. It’s projected that the Eras tour could gross $2.2 billion in North American ticket sales alone, according to survey data provided to CNN. That doesn’t include the economic ripple effect that happens as Taylor Swift fans sell out hotels and fill restaurants in any city where she performs.

Quotes from Swift’s song lyrics and stories about her relationship history have also become an integral part of today’s pop culture vocabulary. Her music and legacy dominate conversations across traditional and social media.

None of these successes are accidental. Taylor Swift is the master of her own story. And she’s mastered adapting to change. Like Swift, higher education institutions are often faced with external factors that require adaptation—from technology innovation to changing legislation and new expectations from students. Here are a few takeaways from the Eras Tour that can help institutions better adapt to the changes that impact them.

Turn Difficult Circumstances Into Growth Opportunities

Many factors contributed to the Eras Tour’s success. Timing is among these factors, as TIME Magazine points out. In a post-COVID-19 world, people craved a concert experience that would get them out of the house. Taylor Swift strategically capitalized on this desire, swooping in at the perfect moment to give fans what they were looking for.

Just as the COVID-19 pandemic changed the entertainment industry, it also impacted the higher education landscape. The pandemic necessitated that institutions provide learn-from-home opportunities for their students. And even though gathering in person is once again possible, many students now expect hybrid or virtual learning options.

The pandemic also contributed to an increase in online shopping. The expectation for a fast, digital shopping experience extends to purchases made on college or university campuses. Today’s students want convenience when buying school merchandise and textbooks or paying club fees.

Just as Taylor Swift saw success in adapting to a post-pandemic world, higher education institutions can improve recruitment strategies and increase enrollment numbers by investing in technology that allows them to do the same.

Master Marketing to the Right Audience

Not only is Taylor Swift an engaging performer—she is a master marketer. Writer Marc Schneider with Billboard noted that “she understands her audience and has cultivated an iron-clad personal brand through her genuine connection with them.”

Knowing what your audience wants and needs is as essential for higher education professionals—especially those in the admissions office—as it is for entertainers.

But who is the primary audience for colleges and universities? Most of today’s students are part of Generation Z, which includes all persons born between 1997-2012. They are a generation who grew up with technology integrated into every aspect of life, making them more inclined to seek information and communicate online. Phone calls are replaced by text messages. And research about potential colleges or universities that they might attend takes place online rather than in person.

Just as Taylor Swift switches up her marketing strategy to appeal to the changing interests of her audience, higher education institutions need to adapt to succeed. This can include creating a better user experience on an institution’s website and answering student questions or scheduling campus tours via text rather than over the phone.

Additionally, Gen Z students have an increased desire to avoid taking out loans. Using technology that gives students the option to set up tuition payment plans makes it easier for them to afford school without a loan. Offering this option can set an institution apart and serve as a crucial marketing tool for admissions offices.

Lean Into the Current Era

A major part of mastering the skill of adapting to change is learning how to reinvent yourself. Taylor Swift is certainly an expert on this. Her first album, which was released in 2006, was a country record. But Swift has since branched out into multiple other genres including pop, electropop, indie folk, and rock (check out Billboard’s article for a full breakdown).

But what does this flexibility to switch genres say about Swift’s ability to adapt to change? While this acts as another marketing strategy (adding more genres to your repertoire is a great way to expand your fanbase), it also speaks to Swift’s fearlessness in responding to the external events that impact her. Rather than letting relationship breakups, public criticism, or shady record labels hinder her success, she leans in and makes those challenges work to her advantage.

Higher education institutions are also frequently faced with external changes they can’t control. But like Swift, they can control how they respond to those changes. Quickly and effectively reacting to things like updated legislative regulations, rising cybersecurity threats, and declining enrollment numbers can have a massive impact on long-term success.

Author Bio:

Mollie Nolan

Mollie Nolan writes a variety of content for Nelnet Campus Commerce as a Creative Copywriter. She holds a Master of Arts in Communications, a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre, and many years of professional writing experience. When she’s not writing, Mollie enjoys exploring the outdoors with her husband and dogs and baking delicious treats in the kitchen.

Author: Mollie Nolan

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