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Choosing the right shopper for the job

Posted on May 28, 2019 at 12:30 PM

Choosing the right shopper for the job

In part one of this two-part article, we covered the key benefits of choosing bags as a promotional item and why, year after year, they’re still the most popular and effective promo giveaway, beating power banks, bottle openers and travel mugs into a cocked hat.

But with so many bags to choose from, and so many differing business needs and varying budgets, how do you choose the right one? This blog aims to help you make that decision, and ensure your brand gets the most prominence.

Of course, as you’ll no doubt already have seen on the Bags of Ideas website, there’s a huge range of branded bags online to choose from and we don’t have the room to cover them all here, so we’re going to focus on the UK’s most common reason for buying promotional material – giveaways.

And as a giveaway doesn’t generate a direct income, choosing the right product is vital to justify the expenditure.

Free! Free! Free!

The BOI definition of a ‘giveaway’ is a branded bag; literally given away (generally) in high quantities at an event such as a university fair, trade show or festival. The purpose is to increase awareness of your brand on the day of the show, and beyond. If purchased in bulk – orders of over 100k are out of the ordinary, and if you shop correctly they can be a low cost item. Several charities use a branded reusable bag as a thank you for a donation, even for quite small sums. But your ultimate selection depends on how you intend to hand them out and to whom.

I know what you are thinking – surely it is the budget that will ultimately determine what bag will be used. You wouldn’t be wrong.

But in this blog, our focus is on making the right decision based on your business needs. Understanding how promotional bag marketing works could even lead you to reconsider your plans, and even rejig the budget.

There are two obvious scenarios which dictate the right branded freebie: we can call them “Competitive” and “Non-competitive”.

Competitive describes a situation such as an event where you are one of many organisations – perhaps in direct competition – such as a trade show.

Non-Competitive scenarios might include an event you are running – a conference, or a music festival – so you’re the only source of promotional product.


A competitive scenario forces you to choose something that paints the right picture of your brand, but still ensures that your bag is the must-have of the day.

At a trade show your potential customers spend their day going from stand to stand, picking up some sort of promotional ‘freebie’ at each one. Most of these come with a printed shopping bag – containing catalogues and smaller promotional items – and they soon build up.

Loaded down with goodies, most show-goers choose one printed carrier bag from their collection to store everything else in, and some cases some promotional conference bags will be disposed of in the process. You have to be the business providing those essential branded tote bags that survive the cull.

Your bag needs to be big – with a gusset so it can hold all of the other stuff – and it should be strong and comfortable to carry. If you can, opt for a dual-handled branded canvas bag, the ultimate bonus feature (long and short) is ideal, meaning it can be used as a tote or a shoulder bag.

In these Eco-conscious times, Branded plastic bags are simply out of the question, and not just because plastic carrier bags are still ending up in landfill in huge quantities. Choosing branded reusable bags that last long after the day of a trade show, ensures your brand’s visibility goes home with the attendees, and is used long after for the weekly shop or even the daily commute.

On the other hand, a non-competitive scenario gives you complete freedom. Lets use a festival as the example – on entry, festival-goers get a programme, food and drink tokens, lanyards and other essential items, all safely coddled in a branded promotional bag.

Seems straightforward, but have you given each reveller a printed bag they value enough to hold on to all day and take home as a souvenir of their experience.

Hand out a bag with no “sex appeal” and it’s unlikely to travel further than the bin at the burger bar. An ideal festival solution is a rucksack of sorts – perhaps a drawstring bag – which allows the user to walk around hands free. And Festival weather being what it is, a water resistant style is a winner.

No matter what the situation, to get the best out of your investment, you need it to be the popular choice so that it is re-used as much as possible, and if the user finds it impractical on the day, chances are it will go nowhere.

The Big Decision


1 – Printing Requirements

Brand communication is obviously key to promo giveaways, and simple logo design with spot/solid colours gives you the largest choice, simply because it can be printed anywhere.

But as the complexity increases, that choice decreases, so it’s always worth asking: should we simplify the design in exchange for a more useful bag?

If your design is complex – perhaps multi- or even full-colour – your bag choice should be complimentary. A white bag always brings out the best in full-colour printing, and non-woven polypropylene gives the cleanest result, although cotton bags are also a good choice for a more sophisticated result.

As a rule of thumb, if you’ve been thinking about an eco-friendly woven bag – such as Jute – make sure your design is simple. Because of Jute’s coarse nature, screen-printing is advised. Avoid thin detail and complexity, such as fine text and multiple overlapping colours. Full colour prints on a branded canvass bag is discouraged.

2 – Audience

Depending on who you’re handing your bags out to, is also an important consideration. Say your target audience is prospective students: you should be handing out a different carrier than you would to business professionals.

Consider your audience age, and how will they re-use it?

To get you started here are some ideas: for each bag we’ve detailed scenarios and possible audiences

Printing: Anything from spot colours to full colour design

Colour options: Huge range of colours available (excluding transparent option)

Situations: Festivals, Sports and Charity Events


Hopefully now, from the information provided from the last 2 blogs, your decision on what bag to brand should be easier, and ensure you get the best from your marketing campaign. As always, if you do need any assistance, we are always here to help you choose the correct carrier, after all we are ‘the Promotional Bag Specialists’.

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