Experiential retail events drive huge student engagement, UNiDAYS analysis shows

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New analysis from UNiDAYS, the world’s leading Student Affinity Network, demonstrates the continued benefits of investing in experiential marketing activity in retail shopping centres, breathing life back into the high street. UNiDAYS saw a 65% increase in on-the-night registrations at its dedicated shopping centre evening events throughout 2016 compared to the previous year.

Hosting a total of 15 student shopping events in 11 cities in 2016, UNiDAYS co-ordinated them mostly throughout the busy freshers period in September through to October, enabling brands to connect with hard-to-reach students across the country at this key time. Among the featured centres in major university cities were Manchester’s Arndale and Intu Trafford Centre, Sheffield’s Meadowhall Centre and Nottingham’s Intu Victoria Centre, to name a few.

The events also welcomed additional sponsors that  participated through demonstrations and the distribution of samples and merchandise, including 80,000 Lucozade bottles. Celebrity endorsers including the familiar faces of former TOWIE star Lucy Mecklenburgh and Love Island’s Alex Bowen hyped the crowds at the events ensuring selfies and social sharing.

Being at the forefront of retail innovation, UNiDAYS ensured students experienced a fully immersive shopping experience, firstly being directed to the best in-store deals, secured by UNiDAYS, via beacons set up around the shopping centres. The events continued to offer students a glimpse into the future of retail with digital, smart billboards displaying their brand preferences drawn from their social media profiles. Visitors were also sent relevant discounts via push notifications on their smart phones. The success of these events saw UNiDAYS in the top three trending topics on Twitter.

Illustrating the importance of communicating with your audience in person, on-the-night registrations at the events were up 65% year-on-year. New centres working with UNiDAYS saw an increase in pre-registration for the events of over 17k. Total pre-registration across the events was over 100k as students signed up to visit the centres to secure exclusive discounts with brands they love.

By driving these pre registrations, UNiDAYS members accounted for a third (32%) of all footfall in the shopping centres during the events. The week on week comparison for the shopping centres saw UNiDAYS responsible for 98% of the uplift in traffic. Intu centres saw a footfall increase of over 50%, as more than 194,000 people were tracked during this time.

Carl Aelle, head of retail innovation, UNiDAYS said: “Retail events remain a huge untapped opportunity for retailers to get the chance to interact directly with an engaged student audience. No one knows students like UNiDAYS and we use our knowledge of what they want from an in-store shopping experience and tailor the events to those needs.  We saw an increase in pre-registration and footfall, which shows the continued relevance of a truly omni channel approach that builds the strongest affinities.”

By joining the UNiDAYS Student Affinity Network, student members get exclusive access to discounts and benefits, helping them save money daily both in-store and online. Whether accessing the network online (www.myunidays.com), or via the app, members can access incredible savings on fashion, technology, music and fitness brands.