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Four brands making waves with Gen Z students – app style

close up image of hands holding a phone

We explore some of the brands that are taking the app world by storm – and how this technology widely app(eals) to the Gen Z audience.

App technology has developed massively over the last few years. Nowadays, using apps for activities like mobile banking and social media are very much the norm – and the scope for utilizing apps across a range of brand sectors is expanding, as more and more young people adapt to apps for the majority of their online uses.

We’ve learnt that 42% of students in the UK prefer to make an online purchase via an app, compared to 34% who would opt to use their computer. In the US, 30% of students would agree that using an app to make an online purchase is preferable. As apps become more developed and widely used, this number will only increase – because once you go app, there’s no going back.

So, let’s explore some of the brands leading the way with in-app functionality.


The ASOS app boasts a seamless user experience. The popular fashion marketplace has ensured that everything can be done all in one place, creating a quick and smooth purchasing journey for all users.

As well as its handy notification set-up, the app allows users to make a purchase and generate returns with zero fuss. Plus, there’s plenty of unique functions that make this fashion app worth having, including ASOS Boards – where customers can sort their saved items into specific categories personal to each user. So, instead of having a long list of saved items that can get lost in the crowd, users of the ASOS app can head to their boards when they are on the lookout for something in particular. Whether that’s going-out clothes, swimwear, outfits for post-pandemic parties – the list is endless.

ASOS image - four models

Another incentive to use the ASOS app is the regular app-exclusive offers ASOS promotes. When running a special offer on certain items, students can use their student discount on top for an extra treat, or use exclusive promo codes – either way, they get a discount – so it’s a win-win for student consumers.

61% of US students and 73% of UK students who prefer to use apps for online shopping do so because it’s quicker than other methods. Over half of the students we surveyed from both territories would also agree that apps offer a better user experience, such as special features and discounts.


McDonald’s is a popular fast-food brand across the Gen Z demographic. For the last two quarters, the brand has secured the top spot on our Youth Brand Affinity Tracker in both the US and the UK. A portion of this success can be linked to the brand’s easy-to-use app. 

My McDonald’s App allows users to order their McDonald’s meals on the go and contact-free. You can choose how you want to enjoy your meal with the app by selecting collection, table service or Drive Thru.

What’s more, the My McDonald’s App features exclusive benefits, such as McCafe Rewards – which is going fully digital from July 2021 – so app users can get their free regular McCafe beverage contact-free. Right now, McDonald’s are also offering half-price medium fries for app users – a perfect incentive for hungry Gen Z students looking for a discounted treat.

Girl with pink hair holding a McDonald's drink

McDonald’s are encouraging more people to use their app now more than ever, to help minimize congestion building up in their restaurants. As COVID restrictions begin to ease, this measure perfectly aligns with cautiously optimistic Gen Z students.


As digital natives, Gen Z are accustomed to getting what they want at the touch of a button and Uber has been a big part of this mentality with their ride and food services. They continue to value the importance of young consumers who are native to in-app services and instant gratification.

As well as implementing a mandatory mask policy for riders and drivers, and suspending their Uber pool product to adhere to COVID guidelines, Uber launched new safety products using innovation and gamification – both of which Gen Z loves. An example is their mask verification technology, which asks riders and drivers to verify that they are wearing a mask by taking a selfie – a creative method that also taps into Gen Zs’ digital vocabulary, all while encouraging users to engage more with their innovative app technology.

The Uber app promotes a seamless user experience with features that tap into Gen Z’s core values. The rating section allows riders to manage their trusted contacts – which means they can share their trip status with family and friends with a single tap. Plus, with a built in wallet, students can feel safe and secure using one app for all their travel needs.


In the US and UK, 97% of students prefer to use social media in an app – and YouTube happens to be one of the most popular social media and entertainment channels across the Gen Z demographic.

Unlike YouTube’s mobile website, the YouTube app offers easier navigation and is the most efficient way to stay up-to-date with your favorite channels. As well as autoplay of suggested videos, the app features full-screen playback in landscape mode, and useful queuing features. Plus, with the YouTube app users can receive notifications every time their preferred channels post new videos – and easily comment or like.

Whilst apps are great for on-the-go travel, the YouTube app caters for at-home functions, too. The built-in “cast” features for Chromecast and the YouTube app on Apple TV makes searching for videos on cellphones and playing to the TV easy to do.

We’ve got lots of exciting things coming up for in-app here at Student Beans – subscribe to our weekly newsletter to hear more very soon!

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