How to Engage Students in Your Association

Are you running an association with student members? If so, lucky you! Students make highly enthusiastic members. They also love showing off their affiliations, and empowering them to represent your association only makes their enthusiasm grow.

Offering student members fun, trendy branded products not only shows that you are actively engaged in their interests, but it creates excitement around your association. Your student members will want to share that excitement with their peers–an enthusiasm that attracts potential new members.

Developing an exciting product line is an easy and low cost way to increase revenue and engagement. Here at Centricity, we’ve seen this proven countless times in our work for managing online stores and designing product lines for student associations.

We are happy to share some of our proven product strategies here to help you get started.

7 Great Product Ideas to Engage Students and Drive Sales

    1. How about a color shout? Use brand colors to show organization pride.

      When sourcing great product ideas, we always start with color. What better way to promote your association’s brand than with that sea of students all showcasing your association’s colors? Students will want to have the cool blue bag or jacket that everyone else has, plus your association’s logo can be prominently displayed.

      One word of caution though: While it’s important to incorporate your brand colors, it can become dull and uninspiring if you offer a blue tote bag and jacket every year. Make sure to work with a secondary color palette to add some variety, or know when it’s time to expand. For example, a yellow water bottle isn’t just a unique color, but it could still incorporate your organization’s logo and brand colors.

    2. You never look bad looking good. Consider retail brands vs. lesser-known brands.


      Student members want what’s cool and hip, and one way to grab their attentions is to offer products that carry a trendy retail name. At Centricity, we partner with companies like Under Armour, Ray Ban, and Nike to provide great branded products to your association.

      One thing we have found with the student market however, is that although they love those name brands, they can’t always afford them. Huffington Post actually sites value as one of the three most important elements in marketing to teens today. We have found that sprinkling in one or two of those retail items in with some high quality, low priced, slighter lesser known brands can actually yield better results to engage student members.

      For example, a High Sierra backpack or Trimark Polo with a cool design and great price tag will fly off the shelves quickly. Take the Swell bottle for instance. It’s been all the rage in 2016 and retailers sell the 17 oz. version for $35, but our vendors and manufacturers have worked to create a really cool and equal quality version for much less. You could sell the same size bottle for $16 and still earn a percentage to go back to your organization. They have fun colors and you can prominently display your logo or wrap an interesting design all the way around the bottle.

    3. Multi-functional = multi wins! Choose dual purpose products.


      Who doesn’t love getting a deal? And what better way to offer a high perceived value than to incorporate useful products with multiple functions? A phone stand that’s also a speaker, a flashlight that has tools hidden in the base, or pen that’s also a stylus, a phone stand, and a tool. Getting multiple uses out of a product make it a worthwhile expense for students on a limited budget. And if you can incorporate it with technology in some way, it’s a double bonus!

    4. Show your flare: Flashy gear will thrill your students.


      Whether it’s a pep rally, an annual conference, or just a regular day at school, students love to show their spirit. At Centricity, we find the most used “flare” are glowing and blinking wearables, boomwhackers, flags, and thunderbanners. Certain school organizations might have restrictions against some of these merchandise due to safety issues. Alternatively, there are plenty of other fun options likes rally towels, yowie bands, foam fingers, and face tattoos that are safer and more quiet spirit flare options.

    5. Gadgets galore: Find the best tech products for students.

      A few priorities that top teenagers’ lists include: being connected with friends (and never missing a moment), capturing memories and moments, and listening to and sharing new music. Here are some product ideas that satisfy those typical teenage priorities.

      • Staying Connected


        Portable power banks have been hot for a few years now. For a student, it’s imperative that their devices are charged up at all times. Promotional manufacturers now offer a wide range of power options, colors, and price ranges for charging phones or tablets. Even better, there are many solar powered and Bluetooth® options on the market now. If you want to double the value, incorporate a charger that that doubles as a speaker, a phone stand, or a USB wall charger. There are plenty of options out there to make these extremely useful products for students.

      • Capturing Moments


        Students will love capturing the excitement at your events. As they celebrate, learn, and bond with one another, they’ll want to capture every moment.Since students can capture photos on their phones now, provide them with enhancements to make it easier, like a selfie stick, selfie remote, or phone camera attachments that create a fisheye or wide angle lens. Keep the excitement flowing through the event by challenging kids to share pictures that show off your association gear.

      • Music


        Nothing activates teenagers more than music. Portable speakers come in such a wide range of colors, sizes, shapes, and power levels that they can work for any budget. Students will love the ease of use and flexibility. For a simpler option, look for sound amplifiers so students can use their phones to pump up the volume. For a higher end option look for a speaker that is waterproof or doubles as a phone holder or docking station, or even a tumbler!

    6. These are the days. Choose memorabilia that will capture events.

      We’ve found that many of our student based associations find value in providing a custom designed t-shirt and pin to commemorate their events. We suggest taking things a step further by incorporating a custom pin towel, as this encourages networking and building new relationships. We recently partnered with Louisville Slugger to create a custom co-branded mini baseball bat for an annual student association event in Louisville, KY. It was a fun and iconic piece of memorabilia for those students to take back home with them.

    7. Making it matter: Social responsibility matters.


      Today’s students are socially aware and environmentally conscious. Huffington Post sites inspiration as another one of the three most important elements when marketing to teens. It’s important to keep this in mind when looking for products for your line or considering giveaways for events. Be sure to feature some products made from recycled materials or those contribute to the community, either by supporting charitable makers or donating a portion of sales.

Curating a product line that incorporates these proven strategies is a powerful way to drive growth for your association. We recommend finding a balance between the cool factor, value, usefulness, and quality, choosing products that showcase your brand. If you are interested in hearing more ideas for your association, contact us today.

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