Sorority Market & Persona Research

Culturati Research & Consulting, 2024

About the Project

Download: Full report | Executive summary

Due to a combination of both declining recruitment and retention numbers, since 2016 the Panhellenic community has seen a 2–4% decline in membership each year. As college enrollment contracts and the demographics and interests of students shift, we sought to better understand the incoming generation of collegiate women with the goal of enhancing the marketing of the sorority experience and providing compelling and relevant opportunities upon joining.

When we discussed what a women’s research initiative could look like with the sorority community, one theme was loud and clear, stakeholders wanted to know: Is sorority relevant today? And, how can we ensure sorority’s relevance for generations to come?

This market research is not about what Gen Z thinks about sororities or what they’ve heard about us. It IS about giving sorority advocates insight into the next generation of potential members, their motivations and drivers related to their college experience and how to best reach these audiences.

Our Research Partner: Culturati Research & Consulting

Culturati offers expertise in category-related research, unparalleled Gen Z knowledge and delivers actionable results.

They have conducted numerous qualitative and quantitative studies among Gen Z consumers, including but not limited to focus groups and ethnographies for foundational understanding of the generation, with additional Gen Z experience including the syndicated report “Unlocking Gen Z 2.0: What is shaping and defining Gen Z-ers” which was released in September 2023. Additional relevant research experience includes quantitative studies in the education category as well as projects for other non-profit organizations.

Their team boasts 95+ years of combined experience in design and execution of well-integrated total market research. Culturati is a thought leader in understanding the “New Mainstream” and ethnic populations through the Cultural Mosaic 3.0 syndicated study which texturizes the General Market, Hispanic, African-American and Asian populations through groundbreaking attitudes-based frameworks.

Methodology

Qualitative (Nov. 2023): Three 90-minute focus groups (6 per group) of Gen Z females ages 16–18, comprised of both first-generation and non-first-generation students.

Quantitative (Dec. 2023-Jan. 2024): A total of 836 survey respondents (Gen Z females ages 15-18) with a representative sample by ethnicity based on U.S. Census data for the age group, including a readable sample of approximately 125–150 first-generation college students across ethnicity groups.

Persona Segmentation: Persona segments were created using advanced multivariate statistical techniques. The four data-driven personas are groups of Gen Z prospects who have similar attitudes regarding college experience priorities, criteria for choosing a college, and opportunities for campus engagement.

Insights at a Glance

While the 150-page full report produced many insights for the sorority community regarding how to market to the incoming population of potential new members, the following insights stood out.

Priorities

  • Top 2 priorities for college experience: getting good grades and career development (regardless of race).
  • Top 2 college selection factors: academic quality and affordability (regardless of race).

Influences

  • Counselors and teachers influence their choices most (regardless of race).
  • Around 80% use Instagram, YouTube and TikTok weekly.

Sororities

  • 1 in 4 Gen Z girls say they’re interested in joining, with Black and Hispanic women citing being more likely to be interested. This ranks lower than almost all other types of organizations including study groups, academic/professional clubs, student media groups, religious/ cultural groups and student government.
  • Gen Z women are equally as likely to say “sororities have too much drama” as they are to say “they help form close friendships.”
  • When asked about deterrents from joining, 66% cite “too much drama.”
  • For those that aren’t interested, 68% cited concerns about being judged by members.

Self-reflection

  • 59% cite life satisfaction and happiness as their top life goal.
  • 44% cite ‘anxious’ as a personality trait behind ‘loyal’ and ‘creative’— their top two self-described traits.

Personas

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Culturati’s work helped us see that 1.9MM potential sorority joiners exist (as of Jan. 2024) among 3.7MM prospective female college students who are planning to attend a four-year university, with those screened out who said they would “never join a sorority.”

Through statistical analysis of the quantitative data, Culturati developed four personas for Gen Z women: Memory Makers, Identify Explorers, Comfort Seekers and Focused Achievers.

Memory Makers

Memory Makers comprise 30% of Gen Z girls. They seek balance between academics and social life, they have the strongest affinity for sorority life, performing arts groups and college sports culture.

Additionally, Memory Makers expressed the highest interest in sorority with 46% extremely or very likely to join. They also have the highest rate of family with sorority/fraternity experience at more than 4-in-10.

Identity Explorers

Identify Explorers make up only 20% of Gen Z girls. They want to focus on discovery and growth while in college and have the strongest need for independence, cultural exploration and spiritual connections.

They have the second highest interest in sorority with 27% expressing they are extremely or very likely to join, and 3-in-10 have family with sorority/fraternity experience.

Comfort Seekers

Comfort Seekers comprise 26% of Gen Z girls. They strongly desire familiarity when thinking about their college experience. They prioritize creating a custom environment, choosing a college location that suits them, and forming social bonds.

This persona expressed the lowest interest in joining a sorority, with 12% indicating they would be extremely or very likely to join; 3-in-10 also have family members with sorority/fraternity experience.

Focused Achievers

Focused Achievers make up 24% of Gen Z girls. They have a strong drive for accomplishment and prioritize academic achievement, gaining new experiences, housing options and employment.

The second lowest persona expressing interest in sorority life at 16% extremely or very likely to join, 3-in-10 also have family members with sorority/fraternity experience.

Learn more about each in the resources below.

Resources

If you reference any data from this project, please use the following citation: Sorority Market & Persona Research by Culturati Research & Consulting, funded through the Amplifying Sorority Campaign.

Community Resources

Donor Resources

Donor resources are only. available to Amplifying Sorority Campaign donors (individuals, organization staff and high-level volunteers). If you are in need of the password, please email foundation@foundatoinfe.org.

SOURCECulturati Research & Consulting