For Brands

Is product seeding on college campuses right for my brand?

‍“It’s nonnegotiable for our brand to be able to really immerse ourselves in the collegiate communities."

March 28, 2024

Arizona softball shortstop Sophia Carroll reacts to G.O.A.T. Fuel's surprise NIL activation with MarketPryce

Getting your product into the hands of Gen Z on college campuses is a marketing win.

It raises brand awareness, sure. But it also builds real relationships with future consumers and current trendsetters. And 92 percent of consumers trust friends over advertisements, so winning support on campus serves as a legitimate, long-term springboard for your brand.

Here’s how Kyle Watson, EVP of marketing at Celsius, framed it in an interview with Morning Brew:

“It’s nonnegotiable for our brand to be able to really immerse ourselves in the collegiate communities[.] If we aren’t doing that, then we’re definitely missing out.”

How student-athlete influencers help brands win

OK, so getting on campus is good. 

Getting on campus with student-athletes? Even better.

Student-athletes gained 2x more engagement on Instagram and nearly 5x more engagements on TikTok than traditional influencers (study via Business Insider) in a one-year period after name, image and likeness was legalized by the Supreme Court. 

The increase is a stunning 12x on X/Twitter, where sports fans fervently support their favorite athletes. This isn't a fluke: The study looked at 319 student-athletes, each with more than 20,000 followers.

Student-athletes shape the culture on campus. 

Are name, image and likeness (NIL) deals right for my brand? 

This is a rapidly evolving space still in its relative infancy. NIL opportunity was first legalized for student-athletes on July 1, 2021. 

Since then, dozens of NIL agencies, marketplaces and tech solutions have emerged to support brand activations. Some student-athletes proactively DM brands for quick, informal opportunities. Others share agents with high-caliber professional athletes and demand a much more structured partnership.

In short: Your brand's first NIL experience could vary greatly depending on who you reach out to and when you reach out to them.

Helpful questions to ask before your first NIL deal

Is your partnership rooted in realness?

  • Any athlete who promotes your brand should share your brand values. Full-stop.
  • Your brand should fit seamlessly into the athlete’s story. Do you both care deeply about the same things? That’s a good place to start.

What is the long-term benefit? 

  • One-off deals, generally speaking, aren’t going to make or break your brand.
  • Instead, look for opportunities to bake real equity into your partnerships.
  • Can the athlete work with you for six months in a way that makes sense? Think about how much stronger content opportunities get when you’re not trying to pack an entire partnership into one paid post.

Do I want to work with agents? 

  • This can add structure to partnerships. Good reps will make deals smoother and help ensure follow-through. 
  • This can also slow deals down and make them more expensive. Not always bad, but not always the right choice for your brand. 

How do I build effective NIL partnerships? 

Sharing free product is always a great way to start.

This helps you understand if the student-athlete you’re dreaming of working with actually rocks with your brand. You don’t want to pay someone who isn’t fully on board to tell other people about your product.

You need to find advocates who will sing your praises from the rooftops without requiring a paid deal to do so. And then you want to build relationships, shower them with product and, eventually, when it makes sense ... pay them! It’s pretty straightforward.

Send free product before you establish expectations, then collect feedback and move forward based on the answers to the questions above. 

How MarketPryce sources real relationships

MarketPryce exclusively surfaces student-athletes who share values and interests with your brand. 

Focused on sustainability? Cool, our algorithm will match you with student-athletes who care deeply about green brands.

Selling streetwear that stands out? Great, you’re going to see Matches who identify as fashion-forward, ready to help you show up on campuses across the country.

Or maybe you’re launching a new, better-for-you energy drink? Incredible, MarketPryce will present you with student-athletes who say they NEED, not want, caffeine to get through the day. 

Our goal is to build relationships rooted in realness, nothing else. After you’ve shared product and found your new, biggest brand fans, the deal-making process gets easier and more effective. 

Book a call now to start building your roster.

MARKETPRYCE MAKES it easy for brands and student-athletes to form authentic partnerships. Get started today.