As a brand, you know your target audience. That’s marketing 101. But knowing exactly how to engage that audience in meaningful ways for long-term customer retention is easier said than done.
One brand cracking the code for lasting customer engagement is Gainful, a company offering personalized performance nutrition. While Gainful’s product is for everyone, reaching students has always been one of their top priorities. When they started a student discount program to tap into this valuable consumer community, they increased customer loyalty and engagement—and earned themselves a lifelong fan.
What Challenges Do Students Face?
Meet Kaylyn. Kaylyn is a grad student pursuing a degree in chemistry at Florida International University. Like many students, Kaylyn wanted to stay healthy but was struggling to do so with limited time and money. Not only that but Kaylyn lost a significant amount of weight and had a skydiving accident that left her unable to walk for 6 months. She felt alone on her health journey and didn’t know where to start.
From Gainful’s perspective, Kaylyn fit perfectly into one of their core audiences: a student wanting effective, personalized nutrition without breaking the bank.
Why Offer Student Discounts?
The Gainful student campaign included social media ads, which is exactly how Kaylyn heard about it. She was planning to subscribe to Gainful anyway, intrigued by the brand’s personalized, science-based approach. But when she learned about their student discount, that was the cherry on top. As she explained, “There was something on the website that said, ‘Did you know that if you’re a student you can get this discount?’ And I immediately purchased it—immediately. Because it took that uncertainty away from me. “
Gainful’s student discount of course decreased the price of her purchase, but more importantly, it sent out a message that the brand cares. Just by offering a student discount, Gainful demonstrates that it sees the financial challenges students face and wants to help. It shows that reaching people who will benefit from their products is more important than a bigger price tag upfront.
That choice to honor the needs of students pays off for both brand and consumer. When students are given access to personalized offers, 91% are more likely to shop with a brand. Meanwhile, students feel appreciated and can get the products they want with less strain on their finances. And when your audience feels appreciated, that creates a strong emotional bond between customer and brand.
The Student Verification Process
To redeem her student discount, Kaylyn needed to verify her identity. This ensures only eligible individuals benefit from these offers, which makes them more appealing. It also protects the offer from fraud and allows brands to gather valuable zero-party data. The key is to ensure that verification is quick and easy; 1 in 5 consumers will leave if the verification process isn’t instantaneous.
Gainful’s verification process, powered by SheerID’s Identity Marketing Platform, was so easy that Kaylyn “didn’t even remember how simple it was.” She felt comfortable sharing the basic information required for verification because she knew she could trust the company with her data. It felt safe since she did not have to leave Gainful’s website to create an account with a third party who might use her data for other purposes. The whole process was seamless, allowing her to get to the fun stuff—trying out Gainful’s products—that much sooner.
Turning Customers Into Advocates
Since starting her journey with Gainful, Kaylyn has become a vocal advocate for the brand. She happily shares baked goods made with Gainful products with her friends, tells fellow students about the discount, and encourages friends and family to check it out. Gainful provided the support she needed as a student, so Kaylyn has become one of the brand’s biggest cheerleaders.
This is one of the greatest benefits of offering special discounts to key consumer communities. Studies show that 97% of students would share an offer with other students, and we see similar results across other consumer communities. That means that even one customer can share your offer with countless connections in their community, generating positive word-of-mouth buzz and sending eager new customers your way.
Building Long-Term Loyalty After Graduation
Many marketers worry about the long-term effectiveness of student discount programs. If students are there to take advantage of a reduced price, how can you retain them after graduation?
Well, Kaylyn isn’t about to break up with her college health sweetheart. She plans to continue her subscription after graduating because she loves the brand and can’t imagine her life without it. According to Kaylyn, “if there comes a time where I’m not using it anymore, someone should probably check on me.”
Kaylyn’s not alone. Compared to the rest of Gainful’s customers, students remain subscribed at a rate 11.5% higher after the first months and nearly 16% higher after the second month. In a separate study, 2 in 3 Gen Z said that once they find a brand they like, they will continue to buy for a long time. Offering a student discount makes it possible for students to experience the value a brand provides, and the trust built during that time sows the seeds for customer lifetime loyalty and converting to full price after graduating.
Gainful is also incredibly grateful to have found a loyal brand advocate like Kaylyn. The brand truly values its student customers and is thrilled to have made a positive difference in Kaylyn’s life. As Gainful Brand Director Bridget Sullivan told Kaylyn, “We’re just so grateful to be part of your journey and we can’t wait for more people to hear from you. You are just absolutely inspiring.“
Ready to Learn More About Identity Marketing?
Identity marketing is a powerful way to tap into the consumer communities that matter most to your brand, whether that is students, the military, healthcare workers, or seniors. Like Gainful, your brand can craft strategies for long-term engagement and customer loyalty. See how SheerID’s Identity Marketing Platform enables you to offer exclusive discounts and gives you verified, zero-party data to nurture them.