The Promo Bag + How to Leverage the Top 3 Styles

the bag 3

We all carry lots of stuff. Most of us carry way more stuff than we really need. Ladies…seriously, do you really need to carry around 32 pens, your entire makeup collection, and flats? And, gentleman, what’s up with the year supply of receipts lining the bottom of your messenger? Plan on returning that Dunkin’ Donuts coffee you drank last week? No matter what crazy things you carry around everyday, we all have one thing in common. We just can’t live without our trusty bag!

As consumers, our love of bags is so strong that it extends from designer styles to promotional freebies. Studies show that 31% of US consumers own at least one promotional bag. With all the different styles and features to choose from, how do you know which bag is right for your campaign? First, let’s start with an brief history lesson.


 The worlds’ oldest known bag dates between 2500 and 2200 BC, and was discovered in Leipzig Germany. This early bag’s original textile has long since disintegrated, leaving behind only the decorative outer flap. So, what is this bag decorated with? Well, dog teeth! The use of dog teeth in  decorating was very common in central European prehistoric burials and fashion. On this bag, each tooth is stitched pointing in the exact same direction, creating a pattern, remarkably similar to the modern messenger bag. Who ever created this was one forward thinking stone-age fashionista!

Sone age bag

The world’s oldest know bag dating 2500-2200 BC.

Today, there are countless bag designs for almost every purpose. From travel luggage to evening clutches (hey that rhymes!), bags are a part of our everyday lives. The average person rarely leaves home without one.

So, back to the juicy stuff! How do you know what type of bag is best for your campaign? How can you tell whether it’s worth investing more money in a higher end bag style, or to stick with an entry level option, while STILL capturing a strong response from your customer? Phew! That’s a whole lot of criteria, but never fear! We’ve got you covered.

Here’s the YAY and NAY  breakdown on how to best leverage the top 3 promotional bag styles.

The Backpack


YAY! :  Backpacks are great for new hire orientations, employee incentive programs, executive gifting, gifting for small to medium size sporting teams, special events and school clubs. They are also great for people in industries such as technology, construction, education, sports and for people with a heavy travel schedule, where durability is key. Compared to other bag styles, backpacks are generally more expensive.  The upside is that consumers tend to hold onto them longer than any other bag style. This might be due to a higher perceived value in the eyes of the consumer. Because of the related cost, backpacks are best for smaller scale initiatives involving fewer people.

Back Packs

NAY:  Steer clear of large scale giveaway events such as trade shows or street promotions. Considering the volume of customers, backpacks can be an expensive giveaway choice. Customers usually have a lower perceived value of  items given away at events like these, so it might be best to opt for a lower cost solution.

The Messenger Bag


YAY!:  Messenger bags rock for employee rewards programs, mid level executive gifting, customer acquisition and retention programs, small to mid sized conferences, dealer and distributor programs are just a few of the great ways to use branded messenger bags. Higher end models with technology safety features are great for employees who commute with laptops. Messenger bags are especially great for guerrilla marketing street team staff, which allow for easy access to inside contents for fast sample distribution. This is perfect if you are targeting high traffic areas and want your team to be as efficient as possible when promoting your product. This style of bag is great for mid-sized events and campaigns.


NAY: If you are looking for a special event gift bag to hold all of your giveaway goodies, messenger bags are not the way to go. Messenger bags can be difficult to stuff because of the top folding flap and don’t merchandise very well. The long cross body straps can get easily tangled, making it difficult for your staff to efficiently distribute the bags to your guests.

The Tote Bag


YAY!:   Large scale giveaways such as trade shows, street teams, grand openings, sporting events and political campaigns are great for branded tote bags. They are perfect as gift bags to hold stuffers for charity, fund raising and other special events. Tote bags are particularly popular among medical professionals and teachers, due to its spacious “carry all” nature.  It’s also a popular style among the ladies! If you are targeting the education or medical industry, make sure to choose a higher end model tote. Consider some utilitarian, organization or fashion features that your target might appreciate. Tote bags are generally perfect for large scale events and help to keep costs down.


NAY:   Events which require you to make an impression such as corporate gifting, orientations or conferences. The reusable tote bag is very easy to come by and this item doesn’t hold a very high value in the eyes of the consumer. If you do opt for this style, make sure you choose something that is made to last, has special performance features or is a fashion item, to increase perceived value of your tote.