It’s in the Bag (or Rather, On It)

Don’t underestimate the marketing might of a branded shopping bag

By Lyn M. Falk, Retailworks, Inc.

Most of you sell very large items that are delivered in protective plastic wrap or large, corrugated boxes.

However, many of you also sell throw pillows, framed artwork, bottles of cleaning solutions and/or small accessories. Each of these items generally needs to go into a shopping bag at checkout. Don’t underestimate these walking forms of advertising! Here are some things to consider when making decisions about your packaging.

Material Matters
Does the material your bags are made of support your brand, price point and image? Plastic bags denote discount. Paper bags with handles denote boutique and add perceived value to the customer’s purchase. And heavier paper or fabric bags can really make a purchase feel special. The better the bag quality, the more likely someone will save it and use it again. And every time they do, it’s promoting your business.

Every bag you hand to your customers should proudly display your logo as well as a tagline if you have one. And why not include your website, or a QR code to access your website? Make your bags memorable.

Wrap it Up
When gift wrapping, always use paper in your accent color and/or printed with your logo, along with at least one seasonal paper. The same applies to tissue paper, which adds sound and texture to the unwrapping experience. Seal the tissue with a branded label or sticker. If you use ribbon, consider printing your logo on it.

Special Touches
Using a different color on the bottom of the bag catches customers by surprise when they fold the bag for future use. Or print a fun quote or graphic on the bottom; it’s a clever way to emotionally engage the customer one more time.

Printed Inserts
If you want to insert a printed piece in the bag, make sure it’s simple and printed on thicker card stock, not cheap colored paper that gives the impression that you simply printed out a thousand flyers. Those often get thrown away when they get unpacked, before ever being read. A nicely printed card with store hours, website and salesperson’s name will often get saved. Likewise, an attractive postcard with information about an upcoming promotion or in-store event is likely to wind up on customer’s calendar or posted to her refrigerator. Add a QR code to get it added to digital calendars.

Want to be more eco-friendly? Start by choosing paper over plastic, use natural string or paper ribbon and print with soy inks. Remember, the higher the quality of the piece, the more likely it will be reused and your marketing dollars will go further.

It’s a simple fact that a well-designed bag will help you remain in your customers’ hearts and minds long after their shopping trip.

BrandSource consultant and guest speaker Lyn M. Falk is owner/president of Retailworks, Inc., an award-winning design, branding and display firm. As a retail advisor, registered interior designer, consumer behavior specialist, experience curator, and contributor to AVB’s showroom Makeover Manual, Falk has devoted more than 38 years to helping retailers build healthy, purposeful, and productive spaces that move hearts, minds, and merchandise. Contact Lyn at or visit

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