We know our target audience which means we know the best AND the worst promo items for college students. We’re here to share with you exactly what you should avoid providing college students to keep your brand from getting forgotten.

For this article, The Black Sheep surveyed over 200 college students about what promotional items they receive, what they like, dislike, and whether they’d keep an item they received. We’re confident that if you avoid the four items below, you’ll be ahead of your competitors in reaching this crucial demographic.

1. Lanyard: Skip It

While a lanyard might seem like a practical item for holding keys or IDs, students aren’t as thrilled about them. Only 18.8% of our survey respondents said they would keep a lanyard after receiving it. Despite their low cost and universal nature, lanyards just don’t make the cut for students looking for useful and desirable promo items.

2. Drawstring Backpack: Hard Pass

Drawstring backpacks may be lightweight and easy to produce, but they rank low in desirability among college students. With only 15.6% of students indicating they would use a drawstring backpack, it’s clear these bags are not making a lasting impression. The Black Sheep suggests steering clear of this option if you want your brand to remain top-of-mind.

3. Koozie: Don’t Bother

The koozie, a popular giveaway item in many circles, surprisingly falls short with the college crowd. Just 14.1% of respondents use a koozie after receiving it. While it might be great for keeping drinks cold, it seems that students just don’t see the long-term value in this item. Instead of koozies, consider investing in items that offer more practical, everyday use, like branded pint glasses.

4. Snacks: Least Wanted

Rounding out our list of the least wanted promo items is snacks. While snacks might seem like an exciting way to grab students’ attention, the feedback tells a different story. Many students mentioned they don’t like single-use items and prefer something they can reuse. Plus, snacks aren’t great for branding—logos can’t be effectively attached to them, and they get tossed after one use. In fact, none of the snacks we offered in our survey (chips, candy, cookies) had more than 30% of students pick them as a top-4 item. So, snacks aren’t the best at making your brand stick. It’s best to leave them out of your promotional plans.

Key Takeaways

Promotional items can be a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal, but only if they’re items that your audience actually wants and uses. Based on our survey, it’s clear that lanyards, drawstring backpacks, koozies, and snacks just don’t cut it for college students. Many of these low-scoring items are also over-distributed, leading students to end up with a dozen lanyards and koozies that they never use, simply because everyone hands them out. These items have become white noise in the promotional landscape. By avoiding these, you can focus on providing more desirable and impactful promos. Check out our previous blog post for the Top 4 Promo Items for College Students!

Interested in better promo items for college students? The Black Sheep is here to help! Contact us, and we can get you a quote within 3 business days!

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