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Notes about Totes: What's your Bag?

Posted on July 26, 2019 at 11:30 PM

notes about totes
What’s in a name? As far as bags go, quite a bit. This blog is going to try to cut through the confusion over the many different types of bags on offer at Bags of Ideas and help you to make a better informed choice for your next promotional giveaway. Just few weeks ago in an article on promotional conference bags, we highlighted the many variations of the names for the same promotional article, among them “messenger bag”, “document wallet” and “conference folder”. This diversity can cause confusion. You may know, or may not, that one of the UK’s biggest selling promotional carrier is the “cotton shopper”, but what does that actually mean? You may know it as a cotton shoulder bag, a “bag for life” or even a canvas tote, and the variations don’t end there. What would you expect for the country’s most popular printed promotional product? So we’re going to delve deep into the bag for life, clear out the unnecessary technical jargon, and make sure that whatever branded bag is over your shoulder, you’re confident about its name. Plus, we will look into why this style of bag is so popular, from small-scale projects, to mass marketing.

Tot-ally Awesome

Let’s start with the “tote”. The textbook description of a promotional tote is that it is an open top bag, with parallel handles, generally made from cloth/canvas material – most commonly associated with the reusable shopping bag. Its purpose, says the definition, is to carry “a ton of stuff”. Tote is actually a 17th word for “carry”, but the design first came to prominence in 40s America where outdoors store L.L. Bean introduced an “ice carrier” looking remarkably similar to the modern Tote. By the 50s, the iconic design had become a mainstay for housewives going about their daily chores, including the shopping. In the 1960s, L.L. Bean revisited their “ice carrier” and released a canvas fashion bag which they called the “Boat Bag”, and it’s still being produced today with its distinctive colour trim. The bottom line here is, there are numerous bags, all similar in purpose, with differing names. Understanding this diversity can help you find the right bag for your next promotional campaign.

Making your Bag-for-Life Easier

At Bags of Ideas, we understand that one person’s cotton shopper, is another’s shoulder tote – and for this reason, we have developed an intelligent product category structure, allowing buyers to find what they are looking for regardless of the name they know it by. We use multiple categories with product overlap. Take for example our Paka Cotton Shopper which can be found in our Cotton and CanvasEco and Shoppers and Totes sections. So no matter what you call it, you can find it.

Shopping Wisely

Now we all understand that totes are no different to shoppers, let’s look at what bags we should sling over our shoulders and why. Shoppers work for every budget, whether it’s high-quality, heavy-duty canvas, or strong, but lightweight and low cost non-woven polypropylene, we can get a bag worth of your brand! Previously we’ve focused on the uses of shoppers and totes as promotional marketing tools. This time we’ll focus on the budget elements, the idea being to showcase a range of products that can work to promote your company, despite financial constraints.

Bags on a Budget

To kick things off let’s look at a select few satchels that are well within even the smallest of marketing budgets. As a result of their popularity as promotional tools, stock items are mass-produced, leading to economies of scale – a good product for a low price, without the need to purchase large quantities. The bags featured here have numerous benefits; the first being a low price per unit, and a large, pantone matched screen print. On top of that, all are available with low MOQs (Minimum Order Quantities) of 50 to 100. The icing on the cake is the huge range of available colours for each bag from stock. In short, you can have your logo printed on to one of these stock totes with a complimentary base colour, delivered to your event in as little as 5 days.

These can be described as simple, or basic shopper bags – long handles, large print area, and a durable material. The next step up in the range are similar in design, but have improvements such as heavier canvas, the addition of a gusset, or eco-friendly jute being used as the core material. Considering a “tote” by definition, these will hold more, and in some cases last for longer because of the more hardwearing materials used. The bags below also benefit from low MOQs but as a promo have more perceived value if given away, or guarantee a higher retail price if sold.

If you want to make a bigger impression, there are better featured styles which are still more than affordable but will promote an image of quality and luxury to the consumer. Our examples have that extra flare sought by the fashion-consciou, such as coloured handles or trims, side pockets, and more comfortable straps. The combination of canvas and jute is not only on-trend, but also hardwearing, guaranteeing re-use, and increasing brand visibility.

All the bags in this blog are “off the shelf” tote bags, shoppers, bags for life. Different names aside, this style of bag has to be one of the most affordable branded marketing tools there is; whether you choose a mini tote, or a large canvas shoulder bag for your next trade show, what is guaranteed is value for money within this range. There is always a canvas or non-woven shopper bag that fits within your budget, and also passes on value to the end recipients far in excess of the cost.

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