UNiDAYS is the world’s largest Student Affinity Network, with over 20 million verified members in 114 markets including the USA, UK, Germany, India, Canada and Australia.

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What's your back to school student strategy?


July 28, 2021

Founder and CEO of Unidays, Josh Rathour, talks how brands must appreciate the power and influence of Gen Z, be they freshers or graduates, and why having a back to school strategy for this alpha consumer is so fundamental to brand success worldwide.

Gen Z are the ultimate early adopters, their habits are now influencing the behaviors of Millennials and Generation X too, and even the younger generations following them. Bloomberg states Gen Z have an annual estimated global spend power of $200bn, but including parental influence, an indirect spend of $3 trillion. Many marketers find this new world order daunting, but it represents great possibility. Unidays CEO Josh Rathour explains:

Why should brands bother about Gen Z?

Brands must urgently connect with this unfamiliar, digital-native consumer who are defining social commerce. They live and breathe social media, instant messaging, video games and live-streaming – often all at the same time. Gen Z are the ultimate alpha consumer, and Millennials and Generation X are copying their media and retail habits. They are the most influential but elusive consumers in history – of over 5,000 students questioned 85% Gen Z research online before purchasing, 92% use a discount code regularly, 82% are loyal to brands who offer codes. There is a bumper year of freshers approaching, brands must move fast to ensure they capture that spend.

What can brands learn from Unidays 17M student members?

The Unidays verified student community is 17 million strong and growing fast, giving us access to unique market insights and data that other brands can only dream of. This makes Unidays a true leader in the space. Through our unique proprietary technology, behavioural data and real-time insights we can predict our members wants and needs, and connect them to benefits, brands and products that they may never have known about. Our community approach also enables us to rapidly test and learn new propositions to support their personal development.

What kind of success can brands reap by tapping into this generation?

In Germany, one campaign for the fashion brand NA-KD drove more sales in 24 hours than their entire Black Friday sales, that similar successes happen in the UK, France, and the USA thanks to understanding the intricacies and nuances of Gen Z’s behaviour country by country.

How are Gen Z different to Millennials?

They are savvy, cash conscious, politically and culturally aware, but it’s not just capturing their attention, it’s about keeping it, Gen Z have an 8 second attention span versus 12 seconds of a Millennial. The brands and marketers who are able to instinctively understand this and make it a central part of the strategy are the ones who will ultimately reap the rewards.

How can brands build their own student community?

Focus on building an authentic member community with the mission to deliver ‘wow’ factor benefits and opportunities, above and beyond anything anyone else can provide. This approach has worked for us, more Gen Z are joining Unidays for more reasons than at any time in our history. Unidays is now much more than a student benefits platform, although retail lies at our heart. We work across multiple platforms and leverage macro and mid-tier influencers with super targeted campaigns to impact students at each stage of the marketing funnel. Organisations of any size can join our platform and begin building their own student community.

How are graduates different to students?

It’s not only about the incoming cohorts of students. Whilst brands must connect with students as freshers, they must also retain their attention and affinity for years to come. We recently launched Gradlife, an extension of Unidays for graduates, to continue a relationship with those students beyond their primary years of education. Gradlife is an enduring and authentic way we can support the tens of millions of global graduates in their earning, learning and shopping needs. Many brands share our ambition, and we now offer partner benefits to over four million graduates who are already part of Gradlife.

What does the future student strategy look like?

As a tech business you have to keep evolving by being laser focussed on your customer. My expectations for the next 10 years is widespread disruption in how young people earn, learn and spend, enabled by a self-sovereign digital identity that augments the world around them. Student strategies must embrace that. Unidays is well placed to be at the centre of that disruption. My vision is that Unidays will actively support, enable and inspire hundreds of millions of young people to become their best selves.


Back to school
student affinity network