Late spring is when I find myself working on client projects that target college students. Job fairs, interviews, summer internship programs, and alumni events are all on the near horizon. Whether you're recruiting them, selling to them, or entertaining them, you need to know what college kids like. For all of our clients with college on the brain, here are my favorite items for 2014:
These clear, stretchy gloves will protect your smart phone in wet conditions without impeding screen and speaker function. They come stored in an aluminum tube keychain that can be branded in full color.
Phone straps and wallets are also popular this year. When you're out at night, strap your ID and debit card to your phone and leave the purse at home. I like this item as an alternative to phone skins because they fit all kinds of smart phones.
Digital reward cards aren't anything new, but they're a fantastic marketing tool, especially for college programs. If you have never used them before, digital reward cards are custom branded gift cards loaded with a reward of your choice: movie tickets, song downloads, ebook downloads, pizza, etc. To claim their reward, the user must visit your landing page and enter the unique code printed on the back of their card. If you require the user to enter their email address to claim a reward, you now have a way to contact and follow up with them post-event.
Power banks are a great option for offer boxes and new hire gifts. The Juicebox battery pack (top photo) will recharge an iPhone 5/5S 1.5 times off a single charge. If you want to provide connector cables too, the Squid companion (not shown) offers connectors for micro-USB and iPhone 4 & 5 devices. The black power bank shown above doubles as a flashlight- a perfect safety item for campus.
I don't want to promote taking fruit from the dining hall, but I'd be lying if I said I never grabbed an extra banana or apple at breakfast. Fruit is an easy snack to keep in your backpack for long days of back-to-back classes. These neoprene fruit buddies (available in pear, grape, orange, apple and banana) will keep fruit from bruising at the bottom of your bag. I also use my banana case to corral random purse items like ear buds, flash drives and charging cords.
Soft, comfortable T-shirts... they just keep getting better and better. I’m particularly fond of tri-blend tees from American Apparel, Next Level, Alternative Apparel and Bella + Canvas. Solid colors are classic, but prints- like the star Meegs Tank from Alternative Apparel- are popular right now too.
Cable organizers are a practical, inexpensive and compact giveaway. If your HR team will be traveling to several job fairs this season, they'll appreciate having fewer boxes to cart around.
Coozies are always a crowd-pleaser. You have to expect that other companies will be offering them too, so set yours apart with a print. The chevron and seersucker patterns above are my favorites. And, if you really want to upgrade your coozie, consider the Hooler Cooler. See how it works here.
Like coozies, bottle openers are another item that many companies will choose for their recruting materials. Make sure your bottle opener gets attention by choosing something especially functional or colorful. I like the magnetic bottle cap opener because it works for both twist-off and pry-off caps. Keep it stuck on your fridge or the side of your car while tailgating.
If you're specifically targeting fraternities, or perhaps sponsoring an alumni event- think horse races, derbies and galas- custom bowties would be a HIT.
Since I mentioned fraternities, it's only fair that I put forth an idea for sororities too. Isaac Mizrahi now has a line of wristlets and bags available for promotional printing. I love this little leatherette wristlet, available in navy, sunflower yellow, off-white, metallic gold, glossy black and glossy rose pink.
Rubik's Cubes and handheld puzzles are another good choice for job fairs. They're colorful, engaging, and a great traffic-builder. Not to stereotype here or anything, but several of my friends in engineering have commented that Rubik's Cubes are their favorite swag item.
How did I get off the topic of drinking? Let's go back there for a moment... but this time we'll focus on the good kind of drinking. You know, like water and hot beverages. Hydration and caffeination. Mason jar drinkware is hugely popular this year. You'll see stainless jars, acrylic jars, jars with handles and jars with straw lids. Any of them would be well-received at a college event. For upscale drinkware (think new hire gifts), I really like Contigo's line of water bottles and tumblers. They're designed well, easy to use, and they don't leak.
Sunglasses were popular in 2013, and they're still a hit in 2014. If you want a lot of them- a few thousand maybe- consider overseas production and design a really neat custom pair.
This post is getting a little long (if you're still with me, I really appreciate it!), so let's just wrap up these last three products in one paragraph. Portable speakers, Moleskine notebooks and custom headphones would all make excellent new hire gifts. They're the perfect items to accompany a student's transition from college to career.
That's all from me for now! Contact your rep at Sonic for additional items, and happy hunting!