Back to School Promotional Items – Inspired by REI

I recently received this Back to Campus Survival Guide from REI. While no one in my family is in the target demographic for incoming college freshmen, we are outdoor enthusiasts and supporters of our local Milwaukee REI store.  The marketer in me is attracted by eye-catching direct mail as well, so I eagerly paged through the flyer. Reading through the guide, I could relate to some of the phrases and lifestyle imagery of young, fit co-eds camping, riding bikes, and pulling pranks on campus.  They are certainly speaking to the unforgettable experience of college, targeting the Millenial generation with:

“Tip No. 1. You never know what’s going to happen. Be prepared for the unexpected.” “Tip No. 2. It’s about the memories you make as well as the classes you take.”

Creatively woven with these tips are product listings. On the online flyer, the pictures include tags that when clicked, reveal product details and pricing. It’s very user-friendly, and kind of fun! It even makes ME want to be one of those college students again – if only for a brief while! REI is clearly targeting their marketing to college students.  Given the success of their organization, we will imitate them with a similar promotional product listing that can be custom branded for your school. After all, imitation IS the highest form of flattery, right?! REI Back to School Inspired Promotional Products

“Tip No. 9. Studying outside beats slacking inside. Opt for camp chairs over desk chairs.”

stadium cushion

Stadium Cushion


Foldable Outdoor Mat

Foldable 43″ x 54″ Outdoor Mat

Folding Chair with Carrying Bag

Folding Chair with Carrying Bag


Malibu Sunglasses

Malibu Sunglasses

Our Tip. Don’t forget to stay hydrated with cool drinkware.

Color changing cup

16 oz. Color Changing Cup

Red Aluminum Water Bottle with College Mascot

Aluminum Water Bottle

The Aluminum Water Bottle is also featured in this Case Study

 “Tip No. 11 Phones end up in odd places Always have protection.

Waterproof media pouch

Waterproof media pouch 6-1/2″ x 4-3/8″

“Tip No. 13 Update your status from anywhere.”

Cord Keeper

Cord Keeper


Media Lounger for electronics

Media Lounger

Digi Clean

Digi Clean keeps mobile device screens clean

Digi Clean – our most popular tech product – is also featured in a Case Study.

What do you think of the REI Back to School Survival Guide?  What products on our list do you think students would like the most?  Let us know if you’re interested in learning more about any of these items, or if you need help brainstorming ideas for your promotional marketing needs.


Research: How Promotional Products Work

We recently had a question in the Twitter-sphere about the effectiveness of promotional products.  More bluntly put, the Tweep was asking if promotional items are just thrown away.

How long are promotional items kept?

Michael Wolaver directed her to our Promotional Products Work webpage, where you can read industry research and watch brief videos.

The answer to the question above:

47% of consumers KEEP promotional items for ONE YEAR or longer!

Compared to other media, promotional products have a relatively low cost and provide repeated exposure to a message, since items are kept for so long.

53% of consumers use promotional items ONCE a WEEK or more!

Promotional Products Work

When targeting students, it is important to select an item that is relevant to the student, while still being brand related to help your college stand out. This will only increase the likelihood of the student keeping, using, and recalling your message. Students LOVE receiving items (83% of people do), and they WILL talk about it with their peers on social media.  A simple t-shirt, bag, or pennant, for example, could have an even greater exposure when a student takes a picture and shares it online on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. As a result, students sharing their excitement and enthusiasm for your school with their peer group becomes free advertising!

Learn more about the following on Promotional Products Work, including video comparisons to other media and generating the desired response.

For ideas on how to effectively incorporate promotional items into your existing marketing and recruitment plans, contact us today at 414-831-0184 for a complimentary consultation.