The Ultimate Guide to Promotional Bags

Including custom promotional bags in your marketing strategy is a great way to endear your brand to new and returning customers, as well as gain brand exposure through the bag each time it’s used. Plus, they’re extremely useful to consumers. From grocery shopping, to daily commutes, to weekend travel, to family events…and everything in between…bags are a necessity. Almost all of us require the use of one on a regular basis, so why not aim to get your branded one to fill this need? In this guide we’ll discuss everything you need to know about promotional bags, including the many different types, what makes them each unique, and their uses—everything you need to help narrow down which might best fit your audience and industry.

But before we get started, we’d like to share some exciting stats on promotional bags, and promotional products in general:

  • 50% of US consumers own a promotional bag
  • A single promotional bag can generate over 5,700 impressions
  • 85% of consumers will do business with a brand after receiving a promotional product
  • Six out of ten consumers keep promotional products for up to two years

Ready for a deep dive into everything promotional bags? Let’s do this.

Types of Promotional Bags (And Their Uses)

Deciding to offer a promotional bag is a smart, strategic marketing plan to increase your brand’s exposure while ingratiating it to customers new and old. But there are a ton of options to choose from within in the promotional bag category. Below, we’ll touch on the main bag categories available to you, such as backpacks, totes, and computer bags, to name a few, and the different uses of each style.


Backpacks are truly a dream promotional product thanks to their universality. Men and women of all ages (down to children) use backpacks—and for good reason. They provide a sturdy, hands-free way to carry whatever you need, for any occasion. That said, while they have a lovely one-size-fits-all quality to them, not all backpacks are made the same. There are many different types and features to consider when choosing one. One such feature is whether to go with a traditional backpack style (double arm straps) or a sling style, which features a single strap that is typically wider and made to fit around the neck and cross over the body. It has a sleeker, more modern aesthetic than a traditional backpack, making it a good option for a younger crowd (think young professional over kids). If you prefer a traditional backpack style, you’ll still have a lot of different options to choose from, like a laptop backpack, a mini hydration style (featuring a built-in bag for drinking water), and a tote style.

What Makes Backpacks Unique?

We touched on this above, but what really makes backpacks a standout promotional product is that almost everyone has a need for one. On top of the functionality factor, they’re a high-quality item. People will always appreciate receiving a nice gift like a backpack. And lastly, backpacks can work for almost any occasion, from a daily commute to the office or school, a weekend away, a hiking trip, a family beach outing, and more. There are really no limits to their use.

Check out some of our favorites:

Drawstring Bags

Drawstring bags are a terrific option as a promotional product. Out of all the different promotional bag options, they are one of the friendliest to your budget. They’re light as a feather, making them a perfect bag to use while at the gym, hiking in the woods, or going for a run. They’re also a popular choice for sporting events, since they’re so compact but still able to hold the essentials (and then some). Travelers relish how easy they are for on-the-go, quick packing. And as e-books and paperless classrooms grow, drawstring bags are an easy way for students to carry the few essentials they need for class.

Part of the beauty of a drawstring bag is its simplicity, but it’s worth noting there are still many features to choose from when creating a custom bag. One nice option is to pick a bag with reinforced corners, which add structure and some sturdiness to an otherwise naturally flimsy bag. Opting for a clear bag is a good choice for any place where security requires them, such as schools or retail stores (for employees). Looking for a real standout? Consider a sport-shaped bag. Truly, there are so many different options when it comes to the many features available for drawstring bags.

What Makes Drawstring Bags Unique?

There are several reasons drawstring bags make a unique promotional gift, but the main one is they’re supremely versatile. To begin, while they can be a great gift on their own, their low price point makes them a feasible (reusable) gift bag that can be stuffed with other goodies. We mentioned earlier how they’re revered for their easy on-the-go style, but something else to consider (even for a non-sporty or traveling crowd), is how great they are for events, like trade shows, theme parks, and festivals. Attendees can use them to hold the other swag they’ll collect through the day (all the while prominently displaying your brand).

Check out some of our favorites:

Tote Bags

Tote bags have a lot to offer. There are a handful of styles to choose from, including non-woven tote bags (a plastic carry-all), grocery and shopping totes, canvas style totes, zippered totes, executive totes, and even wine totes. There is a wide range in quality between tote bags, from choosing a simple, inexpensive reusable plastic style (perfect as a shopping bag), to a high-quality canvas tote (easily goes from the grocery store to the beach…and can be thrown into the washer in-between).

What Makes Tote Bags Unique?

While any reusable bag is an eco-friendly option over a disposable plastic bag, tote bags are typically what people are using to replace them. They’re heavily used and long-lasting, making them a super eco-friendly bag—no doubt you’ve seen them (or maybe already use them yourself). You can expect to see more and more of them as local counties and states move to fully ban disposable bags. With this in mind, people are more likely to keep gifted tote bags as they move to repurpose them for groceries and farmers markets. Bonus, if you gift them at a trade show, you can expect them to be used right away. Up the ante by selecting a tote that’s made from recycled material.

Check out some of our favorites:

  • Non-Woven Tote Bags — a simple but effective tote bag available in a wide range of colors.
  • Atchinson® Carry-All Tote Bag — this bag has it all; a zipper enclosure to keep items safe, a side pocket for a water bottle, another side pocket for a cell phone, and sturdy poly/canvas construction.
  • Latitudes Foldaway Tote Bag — the perfect eco-friendly option; it folds into a tiny carrying pouch ready to pop out when needed at the grocery store, farmers market, or any place you might need a bag (and want to avoid single-use plastic).
  • Cotton Canvas Boat Style Logo Tote Bag — a sturdy cotton canvas bag that can go from carrying groceries to your beach supplies.

Duffle Bags

Duffle bags are a solid promotional gift. As a larger item, they feel like a more valuable, important gift — a great way to impress clients and customers. Best yet, they don’t break the bank. There are plenty of options under $20 and more than two dozen under $10. In addition to a wide variety of price points, duffle bags are available in nylon, polyester, leather, or cotton options. Additional features include having wheels (convenient for traveling), a basic duffle style (efficient for gym runs), and an executive style duffle (ideal for business trips), among others.

What Makes Duffle Bags Unique?

In addition to what we’ve discussed above, duffle bags stand out as a promotional gift because they can be used for daily use (perfect for going to the gym), but also for light personal and professional trips, especially when a full suitcase isn’t needed.  Their large size also allows for a bigger imprint area so you can really make sure your branding stands out to garner maximum exposure each time it is used.

Check out some our favorites:

Laptops and Computer Bags

It’s estimated that over 73% of American adults own a laptop. Additionally, more and more schools are ditching physical books and shifting to notebooks and tablets to house e-books and other online student learning products—i.e. there is a huge audience (and need) for laptop and computer bags. These technology products are designed to be on-the-go, so why not help them travel in style while getting your brand name on a custom carrying bag? There are several designs to choose from, including backpacks, messenger bags, briefcases, and totes—all specifically designed to carry laptops.

What Makes Laptops and Computer Bags Unique?

A laptop/computer bag is a great way to blend an everyday household item (the trusty bag) with technology. As we mentioned above, the need for this style of bag has a huge range, from students to professionals. Speaking of professionals, carrying a work laptop into the office and home again at the end of the day, creates a real need for a sturdy, protective bag to ensure it’s not damaged while on a daily commute (not to mention longer business trips).

Check out some of our favorites:

Lunch Bags and Coolers

Lunch bags and coolers make practical and functional promotional products. Similar to a duffle bag, they come off as a grander gift simply due to their bigger size. There are many different styles to choose from—a classic daily lunch cooler, an insulated tote, a rolling cooler bag or a hard-sided cooler. One of the biggest decisions is how big to go—are you looking to provide a simple lunch tote to carry to and from work, or something that can hold enough food for a family outing, at the beach or a BBQ? For larger bags, you can opt for wheels, a backpack style, or one with multiple compartments.

What Makes Lunch Bags and Coolers Unique?

Gifting a lunch bag or cooler is a unique gift because it speaks to something so practical and basic—food! Many daily commuters (not to mention students) opt to carry in their lunches for several reasons: fiscal responsibility, being health conscious, and as the movement grows, being eco-friendly. Using these important reasons provide a great opportunity to promote and market them to employees and customers alike.

Even tough we touched on this above, it bears repeating—lunch bags and coolers have endless uses. Aside from the professional and/or student commuter, parents with babies and toddlers always have a need for them (snacks, juice boxes, and bottles are a must not only for family adventures but daily errands).

Check out some of our favorites:

Other Types of Promotional Bags

While we’ve highlighted some of the most popular promotional bag styles, there are many (many) other options available to fit your needs.

  • Plastic bags — perfect for a retail store as a complimentary bag and to hold items given out to attendees at a conference or expo.
  • Gift and paper shopping bags — prefer a shopping bag that’s recyclable for your retail store or event? Check out our paper shopping bags.
  • Sport and shoe bags — handsome promotional gifts for anyone in the sports industry.
  • Golf bags — need to impress a VIP client? Consider a custom golf bag.

Ordering Promotional Bags

We aim to make ordering promotional bags, or any of our products, as easy as possible. While we’re more than happy to talk you through each step, the basics are as follows:

  1. Choose the product you’d like, or at least narrow it down to a handful. If you have trouble deciding between a few different options, get in touch. We’ll be able to share the pros and cons of each to help you decide which one is the perfect fit for your needs.
  2. After deciding on a product, you’ll need to determine quantity. Is this for a one-time event, or are you looking to stock up on a promotional gift to give out over time to new customers? One thing to keep in mind is the higher the quantity ordered, the cheaper per item cost. For this reason, it may make sense to stock up (assuming you have space to hold the promotional product inventory).
  3. Next you’ll need to determine printing method. Options include single color, full color, or embroidered. Not all these options may be available for all products, so if you have your heart set on embroidery, for example, consider giving us a call so we can help filter the available options eligible for embroidery.
  4. The final step is to simply place your order! This can be done on our website or over the phone through our customer service department.

Giving Away Promotional Bags

There are so many different routes to giving away promotional bags. Here are a few popular ideas:

  • Employee gifts — There are so many reasons to celebrate employees, the backbone of any business. A laptop bag is a great choice, especially if employees are constantly on-the-go or work remotely (either fully or partially). Not only is it a nice treat, but it’s a smart way to help protect important company property/technology. Consider gifting them to new employees as a welcome gift, as a holiday or year-end gift, or as a thank you gift following the completion of a big project, etc.
  • Sign-up bonus/welcome gift — Customer acquisition can be challenging but essential when growing a business. Offering a free promotional bag, such as a backpack or tote, is a terrific way to get off on the right foot with new clients who sign-up or shop your brand.
  • Special giveaway to top clients — Your best clients deserve the VIP treatment. Consider gifting them a promotional bag as part of a special giveaway when they hit a certain milestone, such as an amount ordered, length of time frequenting your goods/services, etc.—anything that lets them know how much you appreciate their business and support. This could be a tiered gift to account for different spending/loyalty levels.
  • Add-on gift — A great way to entice customers is to offer an add-on gift with purchase. A promotional bag, such as a drawstring bag, is a useful and inexpensive add-on that’s perfect for showing you appreciate—and also for pulling in sales.
  • Trade shows — Promotional bags are a dream item for trade shows. People will start using them right away. Plus, you’ll be adding convenience by providing them with an item to carry their stuff around in all day, and you’ll get the benefit of human billboards milling around advertising your brand.

We hope this guide has proved valuable in your quest to nail the perfect promotional bag. Still have questions? Give us a call, send an email, or check out our website, where we offer live chat. We’re ready to discuss any lingering questions or to clarify any confusing parts. We are also always available to help you with the artwork for your custom promotional items. From drafting artwork from scratch to tidying up an existing piece, ePromos has you covered. Get in touch today!

Additional Promotional Guide Resources:

About Author

Katie Salerno Avatar

Katie S.

Reviewed By: Kaite S. - Marketing Brand Specialist

Tenacious brand warrior who is laser-focused on boosting our brand through effective social media presence and multiple resources. Principal producer of marvelous messages and email exposés. Message + Creative maestro who has an opening for a puppy co-worker with the expectation they stay clear of her pommes frites.