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The creation of the student discount is not something which came about on a certain date, or which boasts a history – rather, it was gradually popularised as a course of action for those retailers which were looking to entice students through their doors and towards buying their products. Particularly prominent and useful in University towns and cities where students are rife, the student discount is essentially defined as a discount which is widely advertised as a saving presented to those engaging in fulltime study – no matter where that study may be. However its very earliest concept was designed more around the desire for peace than for cheap meals and discounted clothes – with NUS, one of the biggest and most prominent global student card providers, being founded in 1922 after WW1 when peace was at the forefront of everyone minds and the card was designed to create partnerships and friendships between the students who would one day be the leaders around the world.
As with every industry, demand and consumer interaction slowly changed the way that the student discount card was used – however, there are still trace elements of this desire for peace found in the modern use of student cards, as they encourage students to enjoy local attractions and eateries as well as stores and chain shops while benefitting from a discount which suits all parties.
When it comes to gaining access to these discounts, all students have to do is present some form of ID which proves their status as a student. This could be a specific student discount card such as those presented by NUS or Totum, or it could be a card provided by the university of place of study which shows the individual as being a student there – however, consumers and students in particular should note the necessary elements needed if they hope to use their student discount with a specific card.
The card they use must have a photo, a place of study, and a valid date with an expiry. If you purchase a dedicated NUS or Totum card which works and is valid everywhere where the student discount is offered, the card will last for a year before it expires, and the student must apply for a new one. This application requires proof of study whereby the student must show proof that they are still enrolled as a student, and it also asks for an updated photo so that any retailer can look at the card and link it with the individual seeking the discount.
University and place of study cards can sometimes work as student discount cards, however this is a risk that the student must take and retailers and providers have a right to turn them away if the card does not clearly show some form of date of expiry. We tend to find that most university cards have an enrolment date but no end date – and so if the enrolment date is more than a year out of date then the likelihood is that the card will not withstand scrutiny against a more rigorous check. This is where the discretion of the retailer in question will come into play, and is why most universities and places of study advise students to pay the small fee to get themselves an NUS or Totum card which will work across any provider that offers the coveted discount.
Fraud in the student discount industry
As is the case in so many industries, fraud in the world of student discounts is rife – with ex-students trying their old cards to gain extra discount and deals across largescale retailers, and with some even attempting to make fake cards or alter their old cards to show valid dates. For the most part, the requirements outlined by modern student discount providers means that these tricks rarely work, however there still exists a black market around the sale of fraudulent student discount cards which aim to give people discounts that they are not longer applicable for.
Top uses of the student discount
The student discount is a saving of any percentage as chosen by the retailer or provider – generally around 10% though sometimes higher – which tends to be expansive across a range of different sectors and industries, from fashion to accessories, stationary, experiences and food and drink. For many students, the most popular use of their discount card is in fact in relation to the hospitality and food and drink industry, as it is here that they can indulge in treats with friends and in meals outside of their accommodation all the while saving some money.
Another great way that the student card can come in handy is in relation to travel and the purchase of railcards and travel tickets – particularly on trains, across airport parking provisions, and even on entry to various festivals which offer student discount using applicable cards.
It is hugely important, once again, that consumers remember that the safest way to ensure all of these benefits and more is though the purchase of a dedicated and globally recognised student card as provided by NUS or Totum. These providers make the process easy and give students a plethora of different information channels through their various touch points, with all potential discounts and deals listed on their website and shared across their social media.
And it isn’t just the students themselves who benefit. We have already looked at how the wide variety of businesses which offer student discount is often at its highest in university cities and areas of study – and this is primarily because these businesses see the highest footfall in terms of students, and so do not want to turn away such a large potential audience. For providers such as local restaurants and bars, offering a student discount immediately creates a way of inviting students in to enjoy a small discount while also filling the space and generating revenue for the business – quite literally a win-win situation whereby both parties benefit. Offering a student discount also gives these businesses a strong advertising proposition, gives them a chance to market their services or products across the university or study campus, and even allows them to showcase their brand on these largescale student discount card websites which list different discounts offered according to location and industry. Aside from local businesses, for those nationwide and even global retailers who offer student discount, the discount is simply a way of widening their target audience to include students and young people – with this target group being one which is likely to eat out on any day of the week, and which will often trawl through clothes and fashion shops at various times throughout the year on the hunt for specific outfits to match different themed events that they are looking to attend.
Have you ever wondered why university cities are full of affordable stores and large hospitality chains as well as boutique stores and smaller independent businesses? It is largely a result of the big student population driving demand for those brands which they can afford, and which fulfil their needs.
Trends in the student discount industry
One of the biggest trends in the student discount industry is the rise in attractions and experiences which can now be purchased and enjoyed with the provision of a student discount card. If you were to head to the NUS/Totum website – still owned by NUS and the National Union of Students but now operated by Totum – you will find that the student discounts page is broken down into a series of categories, with travel being one of the biggest and most prominent sectors. What this introduces is a series of savings which can be made across holiday bookings and experience days, hotels and travel as explored above – essentially expanding the repertoire of the student discount card and giving it higher value in the eyes of students, all the while encouraging them to partake in various activities both local and further afield that they may not have chosen or been able to enjoy otherwise. For local attractions in particular, offering a student discount means that students are more likely to find and access your site – opening up your audience demographic and creating a demand among a large group of potentially captive consumers.
Another trend in the student discount industry is the focus being channelled on insurance and financial support systems by student discount providers. By example, offering a student discount on the purchase of insurance for high value items that students might own is a way of getting them to insure their possessions and also means that they are more likely to save money in the long run by having that insurance. Similarly, the inclusion of free credit checks for those who have a valid student discount card, and the promise of vouchers for those who purchase car insurance or switch energy providers, all helps students with keeping track of their finance and thus creates an experience which is of high value and extremely beneficial for the student.
One of the trends which relates to the most popular discounts which students enjoy, and which is now heralded with its own dedicated space on the student discount Totum website, is the importance of sustainability – with Totum providing students with a really easy way of exploring all the deals and discounts available to them across sustainable retailers and service providers. This may be a simply offering and a trend which merely puts all the eco-friendly brands in one place on one easy to search webpage, but what it does is feed the growing demand for sustainable and environmentally friendly products particularly across those younger generations.
And finally, to the shift in consumer and student lifestyle and the way that student discounts are having to adapt and change in light of the shifts in the way that students live and interact with brands. The rise of delivery providers like UberEats and JustEat has been huge, and hugely influenced by the sheet scale of hospitality and food and drink retailers who are now keen to offer takeaway to the growing demographic of those who want to enjoy restaurant standard food at home. With the rise in these brands, so student discount has also recognised how important it is to offer students access to discounted food on the go as well as across restaurants – particularly in light of the pandemic of 2020 which saw eateries themselves close down and alter their provision to takeaway and delivery only.
The student discount industry is one which draws on and pulls together discounts from all across the retail and service industries in order to present students with savings that allow them to experience luxuries and necessities without paying through the roof. The acknowledgement of the student discount industry, and the fact that it not only exists but is still growing every year, is that students do not have the same access to disposable income as those working – and so they should be supported in being able to make certain purchases and expand and grow their experiences at discounted rates. After all, if the industry doesn’t help these students experience the hospitality industry and make purchases across retailers then they simply won’t engage with those providers at all. Rather than advertising multiple prices for different aged buyers, what the student discount cards do is give students access to something which shows they are able to benefit from the reduced price. From there, the provision of the discount and its quantity is decided at the discretion of the individual retailer or service provider – and of course, offering a student discount is in no way a requirement of service.
For students and consumers seeking discounts as they move through their study, investing in a proper student discount card through NUS or Totum is by far the safest and easiest way of ensuring that you are able to benefit from the discounts across every provider. By signing up to their app and accepting email marketing, you will also receive information about new deals every time they are released – heightening the value of your discount further.