Every college student knows that Fall is the season of being absolutely showered with promotional merch. Each year when I return to my university's campus, I am greeted with a mountain of branded trinkets and clothes, half of which I never use. If you are part of a university trying to figure out what promo products your students will actually like, you've come to the right place. As a student myself, let me fill you in on which promo items we'll get excited about this Fall.
1) Canvas Tote Bags
Gone are the days of the flimsy drawstring bags! I don't think I've ever received a drawstring bag that didn't fall apart within a few weeks of use. Canvas tote bags (not the plastic ones!) are more durable, spacious, and versatile. In the past I've used tote bags to carry my books around for class, go grocery shopping, transport laundry, and pack supplies for a beach day.
Tote bags are also super trendy. Who What Wear called them, "the ultimate everyday bag" for 2022. And, if you need any more convincing, the standard canvas material of a tote bag is much more long-lasting and environmentally friendly than the plastic material of a drawstring bag.
This one may seem obvious, but I’m not talking about any old t-shirt. If you give students a simple t-shirt with your logo, they will probably just wear it to bed or maybe to the gym. But if you want your shirt to be paraded proudly around campus, you have to nail the design. Don’t just go with what you've always done. Create a design contest and send it out to the graphic design and art majors. Then, have a trusted sample of students vote on their favorite. No one knows students like other students, and if you have a shirt designed and chosen by your market, you are sure to create a fan-favorite.
Another classic, but this one is better kept simple. The most reliable hoodies don't try to do too much with the design—they speak for themselves by being comfy and versatile. Students want hoodies to throw on in the library or in classes without worrying too much if it matches their outfit or is too showy. A simple, reliable logo on a comfy hoodie will go a long way. Remember also that this product is worth the extra investment to make sure it's cozy. Hoodies aren't necessarily a fashion statement, so the main draw for students is warmth and comfort.
4) Funky Socks
The "funky" part is crucial. No one really wants to wear a pair of plain branded socks. However, if you embrace your funny side and make the design super goofy and out-there, then students will want in on the joke. Maybe you could plaster your mascot's face all over the socks, or use your school colors to create a unique pattern. Have fun with your design—the bolder the better. Students will want to have something silly that they can pull out for spirited occasions.
5) Fanny Packs (or other event-specific items):
It's important to follow the goings-on of the year and find some items that are specific to certain events. For example, my university gave out fanny packs the day before a big concert on campus. They considered what students might want for a concert and realized that fanny packs are the perfect size and shape to keep track of your phone, keys, and wallet. The day of the concert, at least half the students were sporting cute neon fanny packs that showcased the fun energy of the event.
The fanny pack is just one example—the point is that event-specific apparel is often the most successful with the widest marketing reach. Other kinds of merch that fall into this category would be an insulated water bottle handed out in the middle of the Spring so that as the weather gets warmer students can keep their beverages cool; or, spirited bucket hats the week before the biggest football game. It's all about anticipating the needs of your student body and coming up with the perfect item right when they need it.
Our company, Dhakai, wants to help you create the perfect promotional products. With our database of over 500 ethical and compliant garment factories, you can select the exact product, design, and materials that you want in order to create merch that your market will be excited about. If you are interested in learning more, check out the "About Dhakai" tab on this page or visit our website at dhakai.com. To get in touch and see our private-label catalog, email firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule a one-on-one consultation here.