School Colors Sell Well at French Engineering Schools
From hats to sweaters and mugs, branded merchandise is a growing trend at French engineering schools. Like French business schools before them, they have turned to school swag in order to create a sense of belonging and a strong school brand. We look at several engineering schools' recent efforts.
Demand for school-themed gear is rising at France's engineering schools. The country's prestigious grandes écoles already have online shops and in English-speaking countries, where the trend originated, schools like Stanford even boast partnerships with prominent brands.
The over 200 French engineering schools represent a major market of more than 130,000 students. Merchandise retailer Casual C co-manager David Karmona-Gezeroglu notes, "Engineering schools make up 85% of our revenue. We've seen a strong sense of belonging, even at the smaller or less prestigious schools and even more so than at business schools." For SIP19 brand manager Marc Metzinger, "They don't have big partnerships and budgets like business schools." However, students "want goodies and above all, a school sweatshirt, just like in the U.S."
ESPCI Paris gives its students and staff free swag. The communications department buys around €15 thousand in merchandise every year to promote the school's brand. Communications director Céline Ramondou recalls, "We made mugs for school staff to help them adjust to our new logo."
At ESIEA, students suggest new items. Communications director Franck Pissochet notes, "We help them streamline requests and hire the right contractors." For Pissochet, the annual cost of roughly €15 thousand "is an expense that makes sense because it's a key part of the school's identity."
Ecole Centrale de Lyon has chosen to focus on events. At the 2016 graduation, "We had a small stand with jackets, polo shirts, umbrellas, mugs and baseball caps. Everything is done in-house and at cost," explains communications director Béatrice Traverse. Demand is growing for an online shop, scheduled to open in 2019. The goal is to "keep prices low and quality high while working with French companies."
By choosing to share an online shop, the Toulouse and Bordeaux-based university clusters in the INP network of 30 engineering schools have been able to get the best deals. The shop sells both general INP merchandise and school-specific products.