Bag It Up

Bags are abundant in the promotional products industry. They satisfy our need to organize on the spot and stay on the go with our most basic needs. But to stand out from the crowd of totes, carryalls, duffels and sport sacks, suppliers are looking to advances in decorating as well as outstanding service.

“Today, technology is impacting our bags primarily in the realm of imprinting,” says Christopher Duffy, senior vice president of marketing for Union, Illinois-based supplier BAG MAKERS, Inc. (UPIC: BAGMAKRS).

“For example, more and more end buyers are looking at utilizing full-color imprinting on their bags. They realize the great mobile branding provided by bags and want to make the most of the imprinted design,” he says. “We recently brought this entire process in-house for our non-woven bags, and the technology that has been developed and incorporated into these production machines has allowed us to offer more vivid colors, better registration and crisper imprints, even on four-color process designs.”

Duffy says as a result, BAG MAKERS is able to offer lower minimums and faster production.

“Another area of technology enhancements involves improved bag materials themselves. Examples include more durable non-woven materials, stronger polyesters and the ability to combine material such as a laminated non-woven tote.”

Beyond technological changes, Duffy says focusing on customer interaction can help a bag supplier stand out. “We believe that customer service is the least a distributor should expect from us. Therefore, our focus is on customer satisfaction. We spend a lot of time training and improving every touch point with a distributor. In the end, it has allowed us to triple our growth in only 10 years.”

Another differentiator is of course quality. While bags are often perceived as commodities, driving down prices, Duffy says focusing on quality dynamics such as materials and imprinting in addition to customer interaction allows them to remain competitive and grow sales. “We think our customers look to us specifically for these reasons.”

To secure a sale with the right products, Duffy says the most important question distributors should ask is what’s going to go inside the bag. “It’s an often overlooked variable, yet with this information a distributor can take on a role as an expert in bags by then being able to recommend the right material and dimensions to meet the need,” he says. “The next question should focus on the marketing message by asking what type of design is desired. Full-color versus one-color imprints have significantly different marketing impacts; however, each has its own dynamics regarding price, availability, and production times.”

Duffy sees potential in pitching programs with bags as a primary product to clients in the health care and education sectors, which he says continue to show excellent growth potential for distributors. “Each one has found multiple uses for bags in their marketing programs, and many opportunities there are still untapped.”

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