Alex Gallagher is the chief strategy officer at UNiDAYS – an in-app marketplace that enables students around the globe to connect with over 800 brands.
I recently spoke with Alex to find out more about his role, UNiDAYS’ growth, and the key to engaging Gen Z consumers.
UNiDAYS has now expanded to 114 counties – what have been some of the key factors behind its growth?
I still get a buzz whenever I ask a student “if they use UNiDAYS”. The instant smile, followed by them telling me they use it all the time and how much it’s helped them throughout University. It’s this simple reason we’ve grown to 20M members in 114 Countries.
UNiDAYS offers a true value exchange for students and brands. Students get access to closed group offers and unique experiences from the biggest and best brands and service providers globally, and brands get access to this hard-to-reach consumer with a view to building an enduring affinity.
What drives brand affinity among young consumers? And what should brands be doing to reach this demographic?
It’s very easy to write the words, but so much harder to actually execute them. Many of you who read this will look at my answers and think they’re obvious. However, I speak from experience when I say that those brands who’ve invested time and energy into this audience are the ones who have built the greatest affinity with the next generation of consumers… and future generations.
My advice is: Be honest with your intentions, think about the value exchange, and above all, be consistent. There’s a quote which sums it up nicely – that trust is gained, and loyalty is returned.
Talk us through your role – what does a typical day look like?
I’m in one of those roles where my job title really doesn’t give anything away and probably has a few people scratching their heads asking: what does he actually do? The role of Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) at UNiDAYS has me overseeing Group Performance globally – from our core marketplace business to new product and services in learning and employability.
Each day brings unique challenges, but more often these days I split my time between managing progress against our full year and three-year objectives, and spending time in the market looking at interesting organisations in spaces we’re either in or looking to enter whom we could learn from and/or collaborate with.
What has been the biggest achievement in your role at UNiDAYS so far?
I’ve been at UNiDAYS nearly five years and in that time, we’ve been through a huge amount of change, especially in the last two years where we’ve experienced significant growth in both members and revenue.
In my time we’ve introduced new products (bringing members and brand partners even closer together), expanded our audience (launching a Graduate proposition called UNiDAYS GRADLiFE) and launched in new commercial markets, most recently India in Aug-Sept this year.
However, I’m most proud of the fact that we’re starting to deliver on our mission for students – broadening our proposition beyond offers and experiences to helping them get better grades at University (through our study solutions), and securing the right job (helping them identify what they want to do for a career, what skills and knowledge they’ll need, what skills they currently have, the gaps they’ll need to close and how to close them.)
What’s next for UNiDAYS?
We really want to give students the power to make every experience more valuable and rewarding. For us that means strengthening and extending our offers and experiences, combined with helping students get better grades through access to the right resources, and finally helping them to get a job at the end of University.
What advice would you give a marketer working in your industry right now?
Spend more time with your customers and more time with the next generation of consumers. I would bet that most marketers spend most of their time talking to the same people – and they’re usually colleagues or suppliers. If you do that, you’re not going to keep learning and growing.
I recently spoke at the Festival of Marketing where I discussed two areas that fascinate me; firstly, how e-sports is more popular than [real] sports for Gen Z, and secondly, the rise of metaverses and their popularity with younger generations. Both are a look into how consumers could be spending their time in the future and the impact this will have on brands.