Monday, 04 October 2021

Gen Z' fashion appetite to boost UK economy, UNiDAYS says

Written by Ben Robinson
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Mike Von - Unsplash

Gen Z' taste for ethically made and second-hand fashion will boost the UK economy. Our economy will receive up to £121.9M boost from students during Fresher’s month, fuelled by a record number of accepted University applicants.

A new study run by UNiDAYS brings in some positive news, Gen Z will contribute to our economy during Fresher's month by spending on goods and activities.

The new research from UNiDAYS, the world’s leading Student Affinity Network, reveals that:

  • Gen Z students plan to spend up to £121,943,750 on goods and activities during Freshers’ month.1
  • UK hospitality and retail businesses are set to benefit the most, with almost half (45%) of students planning to prioritise spending in hospitality venues, and almost a third (30%) prioritising purchasing clothes and accessories.
  • Over a quarter (26%) of Gen Z is looking to spend more during Freshers’ this year than they would have done pre-pandemic, with half (47%) doing so to socialise and make friends.

Informed by responses from UNiDAYS panel of more than 18K Gen Z students, the poll reveals that on average, students are looking to spend approximately £448 on goods and activities during Fresher’s month, with nearly one in ten (7%) planning to spend over £1,000. This economic boost comes as record numbers of 272,000 University applicants have been accepted in 2021 post-pandemic.2

Gen Z’s top spending priorities during Freshers’ this year are on outings to hospitality venues, such as pubs and clubs, with 45% of Zoomers opting to spend their disposable cash going out. Clothes and accessories are also popular, with almost a third (30%) of students saying they will prioritise spending their money on improving their wardrobe, whilst one in ten (12%) expects to spend their money on new technology, including laptops/tablets, to help with their studies. Interestingly, over a quarter (26%) of Gen Z is looking to spend more during Freshers’ month this year than they have or would have done pre-pandemic. Almost half (47%) admitted that wanting to socialise and make friends were key reasons for this.

In terms of what influences their purchases - from tickets for events to furnishings in their new 'digs' - the majority (67%) of Gen Z responders said that price or discounts available impacted their purchasing decisions the most. One in five (20%) said that online reviews were most important to them, and one in ten (11%) said that word of mouth reviews and recommendations from friends and peers were what they relied on most before making a purchase.

Among Gen Z, the popularity of second-hand goods is also on the rise. Eight in ten students (80%) would like brands to offer second-hand, refurbished or upcycled items, with nearly half (45%) of these students opting to purchase these goods because it’s better for the environment. Over a quarter (29%) opts to do so because it is less expensive than buying brand new.

The Return To University Post-pandemic

With studies kicking off once more, students have mixed feelings about the return to learning post-pandemic, as well as their future career prospects. Almost half (42%) of Gen Z report feeling excited and optimistic about the new academic year, however, over a third of students (36%) say they feel nervous about attending University post-pandemic.

As to the mode of study, nearly half of students (49%) say they prefer in-person learning to remote working, with over a third (38%) preferring a hybrid approach. A quarter of Gen Z students says they feel a lot less productive when learning remotely. Nearly four in ten (38%) said that the learning style on offer impacted their choice of University, whilst 42% found it did not impact their choice at all.

When asked about their future career prospects, nearly half (48%) of Gen Z feel confident that they will be able to secure an entry-level position in their planned career post-university. One in five (22%) however, does not feel confident at all.

The Role Brand Can Play In Enhancing Student Experiences

Students have a keen eye for offers, with eight in ten (84%) admitting that their purchasing decisions are most impacted by on-sale or discounted items. Finding offers on clothing and fashion takes priority (56%), followed by a third (34%) of students looking for deals on electronics.

When asked what brands could do to help them more generally, over half (54%) said that they would like help with finances. Over one in ten of Gen Z (14%) said they would like mental wellbeing support, and a similar number (13%) said help relating to careers would be beneficial.

Alex Gallagher, Chief Strategy Officer at UNiDAYS, says: 'Our research reveals the true value of the Fresher’s pound, which will contribute a huge 121.9M boost to the UK economy this month. Our findings show that the hospitality and retail sectors are set to benefit the most, with spending on social activities and clothing taking precedent.'

'Whilst financial incentives, such as discounts and deals, are always welcomed and rewarded by Gen Z, the value of the Fresher pound is beyond monetary for students – 47% see Freshers’ as a valuable opportunity to partake in memorable experiences and make new friends post-Covid.'

'As well as looking for price incentives, this audience is increasingly looking to brands to support them with other aspects of University life – from wellness, to finance, travel, and careers advice. With Gen Z trends, needs and preferences ever-evolving, brands need to be adaptive to stay ahead of the competition and authentically engage with this key audience.'

1 UNiDAYS survey informed by a panel of more than 18,000 UK Gen Z students (2,842 to 18,992 respondents per question), conducted 3rd – 6th September 2021
2 BBC Article – UCAS admissions data, 2021