Bag Sales Abound

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Have you ever tried to count all the bags in your house? Backpacks, reusable shopping bags, those big paper ones with handles that we all save — and don’t even get me started on plastic grocery bags. Yet, despite the fact that we all have more bags than we can probably ever use, who among us would turn down a new, freebie bag? (If you’re not convinced, think how fast they go when given out at the entrance to any industry trade show. We all have them, but we all keep on taking.)
“People can’t seem to have enough bags,” says Jeff Lederer, executive vice president of Prime Line in Bridgeport, Conn. “From backpacks to totes, there are so many uses for bags in every aspect of an active lifestyle. A user might have a backpack for school or a briefcase for the office, a sport duffle to take to the gym, a tote for shopping and a cooler bag for picnics or the beach.”
Bags are a popular promotional item for several reasons. First, the immense selection and versatility of bags means there is one for every promotion. “With this variety one can match a specific promotional need with an appropriate product,” Lederer says. “The buyer knows they are getting a product that will get used frequently, which assures the visibility of their message.”
Second, because they’re actually a helpful item, bags purchased as a necessity for an event are almost guaranteed to be used long after, says Traci Tarquinio, senior merchandise manager with Leed’s in New Kensington, Pa. “Everyone needs to tote things around these days, from personal items to laptops and PDAs, so anyone can put a bag to good use,” she points out. “Also, bags act as walking billboards for a company’s logo that everyone they encounter will see and take as an endorsement.”
Anything this coveted makes for a great promo item. So, how do you narrow down the plethora of choices? For starters, Tarquinio says, offer solutions that best fit your client’s budget, the specific type of promotion and the target audience. “Once the distributor understands the customer’s and end users’ needs and preferences, they can select the bag with the right price tag, features and design elements to accommodate them,” Tarquinio says.
Lederer suggests asking a lot of questions about the end users and the bags’ intended use. “The more information a distributor has about the promotion, the more informed choices they can bring to their clients,” he says.

Trend Report

During the selection process, keep in mind a couple of recent trends that suppliers are noting. For starters, many buyers are really looking out for the ladies, says Jennifer Grigorian, director of advertising and marketing at Sweda Co. LLC in City of Industry, Calif.
“It is no longer just a promotional bag; ladies are making fashion statements with elegant jute material that comes in a variety of jewel-toned colors.” Fashionable bags that go beyond being “just functional” are extremely popular.
“I love the soft color combinations we just introduced,” Grigorian adds. “It is so chic to wear a promotional bag at a trade show or other work function and have it look elegant and high-end.”
Another recent trend? You guessed it: the eco craze. Like sport bottles and coffee mugs, bags have benefited from the eco-friendly movement simply because they are reusable; however, many Earth-conscious end users expect truly green products to go beyond this inherent property. They want more from the products they buy and the brands they support.
“The environmental movement has created enormous growth and opportunity within the bag category,” Tarquinio says. “Companies and individuals are beginning to consider the environment in everything they do, including making personal and corporate purchases.”
Look for recycled and organic fabrics for these Earth-friendly clients. At Sweda Co., Grigorian says organic-cotton bags are the hot item right now. “They work well because they are unisex,” she says. “They come in fantastic, Earth-toned colors and are extra roomy for all your belongings.”
Also, totes for the grocery store have never been more appreciated. Why not give people for free what loads of environmentally conscious consumers are shelling out five to 10 bucks to have? “With the success of our single shoppers’ totes, we are introducing a 4-in-1 shopper’s bundle,” Grigorian says. This option includes a set of four reusable shopping bags that tuck away neatly in a zippered pouch. “Sometimes one bag just isn’t enough! I don’t do much grocery shopping, and even I need more than one bag when I go to the store,” she adds.

Sell, Sell, Upsell!

Among the many beauties of bags is their wide range of price points. From uber-expensive briefcases and luggage to inexpensive totes, every client can find some type of bag in his or her price point. But if you’re hoping to increase your average order size, consider upselling your bag orders. Tarquinio recommends two sure-fire ways to do this.
“First, distributors can offer their clients a choice between a style that hits their target price exactly and a style that’s slightly higher-priced but has a strong ‘must have’ feature or design that will make the additional cost worthwhile,” she advises. If you’re not comfortable with that tactic, try her other suggestion: Offer a bag that’s part of a collection and suggest to your clients that they add on a second, similarly designed item to increase the value. Or, also along these lines, select a bag with compartments and suggest they add on items such as a pen for the pen loop or a jotter to put in an external pocket.
When all else fails, remind your clients that bags get used and they get seen. “The message a bag carries with it will often travel beyond a single event and be seen by many people outside of a given promotion,” Lederer says. Sounds like reason enough to choose a really good-looking, quality bag. n

Case Study

An elementary school used Prime Line’s String-A-Sling Backpack to promote safe trick-or-treating during the Halloween season. The bags were imprinted with a fun jack-o’-lantern imprint and handed out with a carabiner flashlight and some literature with safety tips. The children used the bags to collect candy and had the flashlights with them when it got dark. The company later learned that the bags were seen in the halls of the school throughout the remainder of the year.
This article was written by Debrah Rosen for Corporate Logo magazine. Reprinted with permission.

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