Trending with Students in 2019

  • Jun 20, 2019

Trying to impress the college crowd? Need great ideas that will resonate with a new generation of students? You'll want a strategy that both creates initial impact and significant impressions over time.

There are nearly 20 million college students in the US, primarily made up of Gen Z and Millennials. This group is especially influential because they possess over $540 billion in spending power. Marketing to such a significant group can create lifelong customers for brands. Most college students are influenced by a brand’s authenticity more than their advertising, partly because of their use of ad-free streaming services and ad blockers while online. Smart brands will consider newer ways of reaching these young consumers like social media, the use of student ambassadors and useful branded merchandise.

Swag that relates to what is trendy with college students can be a great way for brands to appeal to this influential group. It's at this pivotal time in their lives when college students are forming their brand preferences. Brands that make good "first" impressions can earn lifetime customers. And these brand relationships are high-value; College graduates are estimated to make over $1 million more than their non-college peers. (1) . Student life revolves around pop culture trends, so that is a good place to start when you're looking to make an impact with the college crowd. Here is a list of on-trend swag that's sure to land on you on the dean's list!


Streaming services are the go-to for students’ favorite movies and shows that drive pop culture trends. Promos that tie-in to some of today’s top binge-watching picks are sure to be a hit with students.

organizing-fyre-festival-promotional-productsExpandable Packing Cubes – Embrace the KonMari method even while on the road with expandable packing cubes that keep luggage tidy and organized. Marie Kondo would be so proud!

IN & OUT Sunglasses – Documentaries on the notorious Fyre Festival were some of the most popular shows on streaming services this year, especially with students. These BPA-free sunglasses come in a variety of colors, including a Fyre orange shade, perfect for festivals that actually happen.

the-office-umbrella-academy-promotional-productsDesktop Toss Game – Students are moving on from older 90’s sitcoms to binge-watching The Office on Netflix. This desktop game would have been a great event alongside Flonkerton in the “Office Olympics” episode and looked even better next to Michael’s famous coffee mug.

Peerless Umbrella The Hotel – Based on a comic book series of the same name, The Umbrella Academy was a big hit with students earlier this year. The sophisticated and retro design of this classic automatic-open umbrella would be a hit with anyone in the Hargreeves family, even Sir Reginald.

Music On-the-Go

Students are adopting new music technology like the Rockbot app quickly and spreading the word about trendy portable audio-related products. Promos that provide access to their favorite tunes wherever they go are sure to make a brand stand out with students.

portable-audio-promos-for-college-studentsMarley Positive Vibrations Bluetooth® Headphones – Perfect for walks to class or studying at the library, these over-ear headphones have big drivers and soft ear cushions with precision sound for up to 10-12 hours of wireless play time.

Jam® Chill Out Bluetooth® Speaker – Don’t let its small size fool you! This mini speaker delivers massive, crisp sound that will liven up any party. IP67 rated so its durable, waterproof, and a great option for college students.

COBY® True Wireless Earbuds – Designed to be as versatile as the people who rely on them. Whether the morning commute to campus or an invigorating workout with friends, these earbuds enhance every moment with the power of COBY audio, free from tangles and cords.

De-stress Events

College campuses are taking proactive steps toward helping students relax and avoid burnout, especially during finals week. Many creative student affairs professionals have implemented fun and clever ideas to help students relieve tension – and these events are a hot trend with students in 2019. (2)


HoMedics® Personal Portable Aroma Diffuser – Ideal for relaxation, this diffuser comes with essential oils and pads to release scent while a gentle glow helps create a peaceful environment. The compact size and imprinted pouch for storage make this a great fit for crowded dorm rooms.

Round Massage Ball – Use your own body weight and gravity to help relieve muscle knots and tension with this high-density massage ball.

Adult Coloring Book Planner, Academic – Take a break from class and relax with these delightful designs. A useful item for keeping schedules organized and reducing stress while studying. Includes a 14-month academic calendar.

Charity Involvement

92% of hiring managers view volunteer activities as building leadership skills and believe students who were involved with charitable campus groups to be more positively engaged in the workplace. (3) Students see volunteerism as a way to build real-world skills and make professional connections while helping improve their local and global communities. Branded Merchandise can remind students of the causes they care about while helping spread the word about organizations’ missions.

charity-promo-products-for-college-studentsSilicone Awareness Wrist Band – Continue to show support for a cause outside of events with this wrist band. Available with screen print or deboss imprint.

Koozie® Collapsible Eco Can Kooler – Great for environmental organizations, 10% of this can kooler foam is made from renewable resources for a classic promo that students love with an eco-friendly twist.

256 MB Folding USB Flash Drive – Charitable organizations can provide information, event details or volunteer information right on this USB. Available in a variety of colors to coordinate with the organization, campus club or school colors.

Lasting Impact Items

If you are looking to gain the attention of college students and maintain that attention for a long time, the following products are spectacular choices.  With their tremendous quality and college compatibility, they are sure to be great choices.


Parkland Academy 15" Computer Backpack – Parkland bags and backpacks have exteriors made completely from recycled plastic bottles.  With plastic waste reduction and recycling issues being at the center of most campuses, this is a backpack students can get behind.

Monroe Short-Sleeve Pocket Tee  – The T-shirt is one of the all-time classic campus giveaway items.  This Monroe shirt is ultra-soft and will get repeated wears with its eye-catching contrast pocket.

Swift Fast Wireless Charger Kit – College students live on their phones and they need an easy, convenient way to power up.  Wireless chargers are cutting-edge, economical, and deliver serious brand impressions.

2-in-1 Charging Cable Lanyard  – Students certainly love lanyards for keeping their IDs and keys handy.  Pairing this with a charging cable makes it even more appealing with the time students spend on their phones.

Take Away

With this updated view of the college experience, you can better understand their demographic to properly reach them with stellar branded merchandise like the examples above.  Regardless of what theme you pursue, using this information will bring you closer to a generation that is continually growing in importance.  Investing in these products will diversify your marketing mix and create lasting relationships with this crucial and growing demographic.