A smiling woman in an ad for an exclusive offer of $10 off that UNIQLO is running to boost college student customer acquisition.

UNIQLO Targets Socially Responsible Gen Z with Gated Offer

Posted on May 7, 2019 · 5 min read

In retail, customer acquisition is king, and the pressure is on. According to a recent survey, 81% of retail marketers feel more pressure to meet acquisition and retention goals than one year ago. And the challenge can feel even greater for clothing brands trying to reach younger audiences, whose taste is constantly changing.

But today’s youth care as much about social good as they do fashion, and they expect the same from brands they shop with. But how do you translate that into a customer acquisition strategy that has teeth?

Social Responsibility Matters to Gen Z

McKinsey reports that nine out of ten Gen Zers believe companies have a responsibility to address environmental and social issues. And according to MNI Targeted Media, more than half of Gen Zers say that knowing a brand is socially conscious influences their purchasing decisions.

Meeting this need gives brands an edge in winning over a lucrative market segment. Gen Zers make up more than a quarter of the US population and have $143 billion in spending power. Seventy-five percent of Gen Z spend more than half of the money that is available to them each month, and by 2020, they’ll make up 40% of all consumers.

How UNIQLO is Tapping into the Gen Z Market Opportunity

Savvy companies like UNIQLO, the global apparel brand, take social responsibility seriously. Since the company was founded in 1984, it’s implemented a host of sustainability initiatives, including their All Product Recycling Program that provides clothing to millions of people in need.

Also, in 2018 UNIQLO received a Corporate Community Impact Award from ESPN. And that same year, Fast Retailing—UNIQLO’s parent company—became a signatory to the UN Global Impact supporting labor rights and environmental issues.

These actions reflect UNIQLOs commitment to making clothing a “force of social good.” They’re also a great example of cause marketing—a customer acquisition strategy that has great appeal to Gen Z.

More than 1 in 2 Gen Zers say that knowing a brand is socially conscious influences their purchasing decisions.

So when the company wanted a new way to reach younger shoppers, it made sense to build on this approach with a promotion that would appeal to them just as much: gated, exclusive offers.

Bolstering Cause Marketing with Gated Offers

In April 2019, UNIQLO launched a gated, exclusive offer that gives all US college students $10 off a purchase of $50 or more. It’s a smart move that puts UNIQLO in front of a segment that shares its values but tends to have less disposable income than other consumers.

It’s also guaranteed to capture Gen Z’s attention. Seventy-one percent of Gen Zers said gated offers are more important than discounts for everyone. That’s because customized offers like this elicit powerful emotions. When given a gated offer, 54% of students feel excited, 41% feel rewarded, and 41% feel special.

Delivering Personalization without Compromising Privacy

To meet Gen Z on their own terms—in a personalized way that respects their privacy—UNIQLO implemented the gated offer with SheerID’s Digital Verification Platform.

UNIQLO invites students to enjoy their exclusive discount, students opt in to accept the invitation by entering a few pieces of basic information, and SheerID instantly verifies their eligibility. The discount is automatically applied at checkout, creating an in-brand verification process that’s fast and easy for students to complete.

This process honors students’ preference for privacy, which is another smart move. As tech savvy as they are, Gen Zers value their privacy more than previous generations. Research shows that less than one-third of teens are comfortable sharing personal details other than contact information and purchase history. And 61% would feel better sharing personal information with brands if they could trust it was being securely stored and protected.

Identity-Based Promotions Align Brand and Buyer

UNIQLO asserts that “who you are, what you believe in: that’s what you wear every day. And that’s what we make clothing for.” By personalizing offers based on the core attributes of someone’s identity, such as being a student, UNIQLO is tapping into a deep sense of belonging and transforming a simple purchase into the launch of a richer, more lasting exchange.   

And when customers see themselves in the brand offering, that motivates action. When provided a gated offer, 52% are more likely to make a purchase and 82% will shop with a brand more often.

A smiling woman happy about purchasing new clothes using UNIQLO's gated student offer.

Customer Acquisition That Nurtures Lifelong Loyalty

Establishing a positive relationship with students when they’re still discovering their “favored brands”  makes them stay for the long haul.

Once Gen Zers find a brand they love, they’re committed. Deloitte found that college students have a 10-year customer lifecycle preference. And two out of three will happily buy from a favorite brand for years to come as long as their values align with the company’s and the product quality remains high.

Plus, with loyalty comes invaluable word-of-mouth marketing: 83% of 18-34 year olds say they would share a gated student offer with friends and family.

A Proven Customer Acquisition Strategy for Retail Marketers

Gated offers provide a highly reliable path to success for companies that want to increase brand awareness in the US and beyond. Leading retailers are using gated offers to reach Gen Z consumers in a way that speaks to them directly and reflects their personal values.

  • Urban Outfitters rolled out a special gated offer for students timed with back-to-school season.
  • J. Crew’s gated offer gives young professionals—students and teachers—15% off.
  • L.L. Bean gives 10% off to students, teachers, and members of the military.

Gated offers aren’t just a way to unite cause marketing with an audience that appreciates it. They’re a cost-effective, high-return approach that delivers long-term gains. 

When given a gated offer, 82% of consumers will shop with a brand more often.

Learn More about How Gated Offers Can Work for You

Retailers that implement gated offers with SheerID report 3x conversions, 2x repeat purchases, and ROAS as his as 20:1. To learn more, download The Definitive Guide to Gated Offers or Contact Us.

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Tony Coray by Tony Coray