Unite Students

Beating acquisition & retention targets, despite the pandemic

Unite Students is the UK largest student accommodation provider, housing 76,000, across 27 cities. As over 15% of their students are Chinese, they were looking for a long-term strategic marketing partner to work with them on China strategy to grow and retain their customer base.

The Challenge

Hit heavily by pandemic lockdowns, Unite needed to create more direct engagement with students with 2 objectives:

To understand their most pressing concerns about student accommodation during the pandemic

To reflect their USP’s back in messaging about issues that students really cared about

Our Strategy

Transform Unite Students from being merely a market leader, to a unique hospitality brand appealing to the new generation of Gen Z students

Emerging Comms used social listening and our own propriety tools, to monitor student sentiment and pivot communications accordingly.

We focused on Unite Student USPs to create differentiation from the competition

Changed messaging to a focus on Covid 19 safety and pastoral care in all communications, following our research findings

What We Delivered

  • Rewarded customer loyalty and advocacy within all communications and promotions, encouraging peer to peer promotions.
  • Grew our KOC numbers by creating communities on WeChat.
  • Created a multi-faceted content strategy to appeal to different student and parent groups, resulting in resonating, relevant and, most importantly, profitable social outreach.
  • Leveraged social monitoring tools to monitor customer sentiment and respond appropriately. Monitoring the student market in real-time to identify vital consumer insights.

Marketing activations:

  • Through a mixture of marketing activations, both off and online, we established strong brand awareness and customer advocacy.
  • We provided digital PR outreach, paid search, social media advertising and community management to maximise campaigns.
  • By optimising the website and lead generation sales funnel, we were able to provide a more streamlined journey for Chinese students.
  • We were able to deliver hugely successful seasonal campaigns to drive sales for Unite, with KPIs for both customer acquisition and retention being exceeded from 2019, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.


Our results


Direct Enquiries


Increase in direct bookings

We generated 3000+ enquiries and triple-digit bookings during 2020 campaigns. Over 30% growth in followers across main brand accounts. No. 1 WeChat readership amongst similar competitors. 112.5% + increase Y.O.Y in the number of pageviews and impressions

  • 2,208 direct enquiries
  • 45% increase in direct bookings
  • 25% increase in Chinese social media followers
  • Ranked 1st in the industry by social media engagement metrics
  • Winner of Property Marketing Awards

Intrinsic in our success in this highly competitive market

We have been working with Emerging Comms for three years, and it has made a great difference for us in the way we approach our social media strategy in targeting Chinese students and has been intrinsic in our success in this highly competitive market. Emerging Comms always provides new ideas and comes up with the best plans that are consistently and hugely beneficial in delivering outstanding campaign results and ROI.”

Bernadette Cochonat

Head of International Sales & Partnerships