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Our latest Publisher Spotlight is on the Beans Group. The publisher has grown from its origins in 2005 as Student Beans, set up by James and Michael Eder, to a major international publishing group.
We spoke to Chris Mockford to understand a little more about their audience - 'Generation Z'. Chris outlines in detail what this valuable market represents for affiliate advertisers and online merchants.
Introduce us to Student Beans: Who are you, what do you do, and why do you do it?
As a technology company with a dedicated media service, it’s our mission to be your gateway to Gen Z. We do this by offering an end-to-end solution to running your own student program, because the older members of the Gen Z cohort are now students.
At Student Beans, we help advertisers to find, attract, engage and convert these verified students - and that’s just the start. Our extensive network of global media touchpoints, along with our conversion optimization tools, drive repeat purchases, building the habits that turn Gen Z into your lifelong customers.
Who exactly are Gen Zs -and why is it so important to engage with them?
Gen Zs are the main reason why we do what we do - we believe they’re going to change the world. Born between 1996 and 2010, this cohort is loaded with potential, and as the oldest members inherit their own spending power, they’re your next generation of consumers.
They’re digitally connected, financially savvy, and they have more choices when it comes to shopping than ever before. As students, they’re developing spending habits and brand loyalties daily.
How has student shopping changed within the past year - and what trends and habits do you expect to see going forward?
Shopping has been transformed by the pandemic, but even in this highly unusual period, Gen Zs found ways to buck global trends - in part by increasing their shopping habit rather than reducing it.
Despite being digital natives, we know that Gen Z students actually like to shop both online and in-store. They enjoy the social element of heading instore with friends, and as a trust-conscious generation, they like to try before they buy, particularly when spending a lot of money.
One of the biggest trends, then,has been their shift online - 45% are shopping online more than before COVID hit, and 36% have maintained the same levels of online shopping. We don’t necessarily predict that online shopping will fall when shops reopen -but ecommerce brands will need to think of more and more creative ways to recreate experiential retail in a digital format.
As the world reopens, the boundary between shopping and entertainment will continue to blur -think gamification, multimedia, collaborations and more.
What are some key times throughout the year where Gen Z consumers are most active?
If you’re looking to engage with Gen Z, the start of university is a key period, with so many new and returning students spending across all verticals to prepare for the academic year ahead. This falls differently depending on the territory: Back to School in the US starts in August, Freshers kicks off in September, and Welcome Week in Australia begins around March time.
Other key spending periods include traditional shopping events like Black Friday and the festive period.
Gen Z is a globally-minded generation - but are there any specific trends or differences you’ve noticed in key territories that you work across?
The biggest one which springs to mind is the level of financial support available to students across our key territories. In the UK, access to student loans for tuition and living costs is standardized - 94% of eligible UK students take out a student loan. There’s always a buzz when the student loan payments come in at three times a year -and students will typically spend more around these times, creating termly opportunities for brands to connect with them.
Of course, the situation looks very different in the US, where student fees and loans are less standardized. US students get just 9% of their income from a student loan, compared to the average student in the UK, where the figure is 49%.
This means that US students need support from the brands they love little and often, throughout the year - their income is rooted in more traditional sources such as work, family support and scholarships.
What type of brands perform well as your partners - and how can a brand get involved? Anything and everything!
Gen Z students are a very diverse group, and their interests and habits encompass many different verticals. Our partners include startups that are looking to grow internationally, taking advantage of our global reach with local knowledge, as well as vast global brands. We’ve worked with brands looking to consolidate their existing share of the Gen Z market, as well as those who have never considered this lucrative market before.
What would your key piece of advice be for any readers new to affiliate management?
So we have three key pointers:
Definitely be prepared to experiment -the most successful affiliate programs work with a broad range of publisher types. That means that experimentation is key - make sure you test widely so you can discover what works best for your program.
Secondly, we’d advise getting stuck into the details of consumer behavior. Research is everything; stay close to changes in user behavior, latest technologies and industry standards, because they will have an impact on your program. The closer you stay to these realities, the more effective you’ll be within your role.
And finally - make sure you are investing time in your relationships. Affiliate Marketing is a two-way partnership, and holding good relationships is critical for your program’s success - in the short term and in the long term.
You can find out more about Student Beans by visiting partner.studentbeans.com
Chris Mockford joined the Beans Group in 2020 as Head of Affiliate. With over 15 years in experience affiliates, first at DGM and buy.at networks, then leading brand and agency roles.
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