We all have a story about the key decisions that shaped our future. Whether that was choosing to go to university or opting for a different path – these moments are emotional and they stay with us.

The journey to university continues to be just as transformative for today’s generation. Often their first major life event, it’s marked by significant decisions and intense emotion. It’s a time of change and discovery as they step into a new phase of independence.

When you look at other major life events, such as buying a home or starting a family, these all happen at different times for different people - or even sometimes not at all.

But when going to University, an entire cohort experience exactly the same thing at the same time - all navigating a single service order to do so – UCAS.

But why should this matter to brands?

Research shows that students are 75% more likely to try new brands during major life events like starting university. And in our student lifestyle report we found that one in four students discovered new brands as they started their university journey—a jump of 56% from 2022..

There is a huge opportunity here, and it relies on early visibility.

This demographic are navigating a series of firsts: it is their first time living independently, managing their own finances, and making significant purchasing decisions on their own. They are starting to form new brand relationships based on their own needs, preferences and experiences.

But it’s not about capitalising on a more vulnerable and impressionable audience. And whilst they continue to show just how resilient and adaptable they are, we need to appreciate what they’ve experienced at such a young age - a global pandemic, a cost of living crisis and now a major, personal life event.

Now more than ever, they need support and value from brands to help them thrive as they transition into becoming independent young adults. They’ll favour authenticity and meaningful interactions, remembering positive experiences during these highly emotional moments.

With over 1.5million verified new audiences every year, UCAS plays a unique role in supporting Gen Z make decisions about their next steps. Our unique media ecosystem, built around the various touchpoints in the university application journey, enables brands to connect with students in a way that feels supportive and relevant, rather than intrusive.

Our trusted status delivers high engagement rates and our insight into how this audience thinks and feels means we can help brands connect with the next generation of consumer using multiple channels, in the right way and at the right time.

If you want to hear more, join David Penney, Chief Marketing Officer at UCAS and Chris Bosher, Head of Strategy at Borne on day 1 of MAD//Fest as they share their insights into the moments that really matter and why brands should be collaborating with UCAS. ‘Emotionally fuelled moments that can form lifelong brand relationships’ will take place at 3.25PM over on the Creativity Stage.