Corporate merchandising is not a new tactic used to build brand awareness, but it has been given an upgrade. A new wave of eco-friendly, multi-use, top quality products have taken swag bags to the next level, and brands are successfully using them to boost employee and client engagement plus strengthen brand recognition.
Companies spend large amounts of money in a bid to make their brand stick in the minds of potential customers. In fact, the promotional products industry in the United States alone is worth $17 billion.
With that in mind, we’ve reached out to a couple prominent merchandise companies to find out the top swag bag ideas popular right now, and trends they are facing in the industry.
What are swag bags?
You might know them as goodie bags or giveaway bags, but they are best described as gift bags (or boxes) filled with an assortment of branded items. Historically speaking swag bags are often used as part of an offline lead strategy at corporate events as a creative way to have attendees remember your brand or CTA.
Recently, swag bags have been also used as a method for employee engagement. When discussing this shift with Miriam Diiren, from Good Things, she stated that, “receiving swag is shown to increase excitement in the workplace, with people having said it’s a feeling similar to that of their first day of work. It shows that the manager and/or business appreciates them.”
Don’t be afraid to use your swag bag as a perk to surprise and delight customers. They can be used to welcome clients, celebrate their milestones, or even as a conversion tool. Just ensure your merchandise is of top quality and brand relevant (we touch on this later). While using swag bags in this way may seem like a lot of admin work, rest assured it can all be automated.
By integrating Zapier in Ortto, you are able to automate and trigger the distribution of swag from within your CDP or CRM. Say you want to reward your best customers. Set up a journey where once the customer completes their 10th order or leaves a 5 star review, they then are sent a gifting link to claim their swag bag.
Once arrived at the branded redemption page, customers or leads can pick the swag they want, and share information like postal address and phone number or size. This information will then be automatically routed back to your swag provider, who will ship the product off for you.
The swag statistics you need to know
Business is booming in the swag bag industry. Don’t underestimate these promotional products. Studies and surveys alike have indicated just how impactful swag bags are, exhibiting an array of benefits when investing in quality branded items.
Enthusiastic employees show an improved quality of work and meet objectives. Inspired employees are125% more productive.
A couple of key shifts have occurred over the last five years within the merchandise industry that largely fall in line with the increase of social consciousness.
Co-founder of Good Things, Jeremy Chen, acknowledges that, “the biggest change has been around how we as a society view the environment and sustainability. Sustainable products have basically gone from a ‘nice to have’ option to almost being mandatory and a key factor in the purchasing decision. [In addition] social audits and modern slavery requirements are now the 'norm', particularly with large brands, which has been very encouraging to see.”
“All our key clients are asking for more sustainable options for the traditional popular merchandise. For example, we've increased our offering over the last two years to include BCI cotton, Fairtrade Cotton, and Recycled Materials and also ensure all our packaging is sustainable and directed to the right place (REDcycle),” Chen added.
Georgina Murray from Mercha has also noticed this, “we've seen a real flight to quality over quantity and that's where we've been at the forefront. With this, we've noticed consumers/clients taking note of environmental efforts and ethics in both the product itself and company values which is really refreshing, and what we pride ourselves on.”
See this for yourself, as both companies have generously shared their top 5 most popular swag items for 2022.
Top 5 most popular swag items - Mercha
The Orso Bronte Cotton Tote Bag
Orso Seinox Car Vent Mount
Frenzy Pencil Case
Eco Bambu Phone Holder
and of course all sorts of pens!
Top 5 most popular swag items - Good Things
Bottles (stainless steel & sustainable)
Headwear - caps and bucket hats
Coffee cups - reusable
Apparel - tees
Swag Bag Checklist
There’s an overwhelming number of promotional items to choose from these days. So, how are you meant to narrow it down when creating your swag bag? There are a couple of core things to keep in mind to ensure your swag bags prove to be an effective investment.
The items are meaningful to the company that people will actually want to use.
Cater to your target market and audience.
Keep it relevant to your brand.
Choose eco-friendly products that are built for multi-uses and will last a decent amount of time.
Purchase quality items, but save money by buying in bulk.
Put the most important information you want to convey directly on the products.
9 of the best swag bag ideas for your industry
“Name an industry and you can bet there's the perfect merch-match for them! Whether it's for clients or internally, merch is a must-have no matter the industry,” shared Georgina Murray, Mercha. Following on from this insight, we found nine swag bag ideas for SaaS, B2B and startup companies.
3 swag bag ideas for your startup
The startup world hits different. Everyone is working hard and fast. The teams are generally small and while everyone is likely to be working closely together it’s important to ensure that setting up the right team culture is achieved early on. We’ve found five of the best swag bag ideas to ensure your startup is good from the word go.
Work from anywhere (WFA) swag bag
The traditional 9-5 working in an office days are over, employees are much more interested in the freedom to choose where and how they work. If your startup is embracing this hybrid model, then celebrate it with a matching swag bag.
What’s included in the WFA swag bag:
Reusable water bottle
Bento box set
Virtual happy hour swag bag
Teams are global these days. While your sales and marketing are located in the US, your developers are in Poland. In an effort to get the team building their relationships beyond work chat, creating a weekly virtual happy hour can help and this is the swag bag for you.
What’s included in the virtual happy hour swag bag:
Cocktail kit - multiple cocktail choices available
A reusable travel cup
Corkscrew / bottle opener
$25 Ubereats voucher (or country alternative)
Eco swag bag
We’ve heard it straight from the horse's mouth, with both Mercha and Good Things seeing a massive shift towards eco-friendly and reusable products. Show your support for sustainability by creating swag bags that favor zero-waste practices.
What’s included in the eco swag bag:
Bamboo fiber cutlery set
Eco reusable coffee cup
Collapsible straw with cleaner kit
T-shirts made from sustainable organic materials
Recycled cotton tote bag
3 swag bag ideas for your SaaS company
You’ll know that you’ve assembled a successful swag bag when they are on brand, filled with practical items and your employees and customers are asking for one. A curated SaaS swag bag will help boost your brand and drive the recognition needed for more conversions. Here’s a few options for inspiration.
The rebrand swag bag At the beginning of 2022, Ortto as a brand was announced to the world, the only way to make it truly official was delivering the swag to our team and business partners. Ortto’s VP of Marketing, Claire Brown wanted the new Ortto brand to be the hero on the new promotional products.
"I wanted to choose products that showed off the new brand in the best light. We also wanted to make sure that every team member would be excited to use or wear the merch we sent them. It was important to us that everyone felt included and proud of Ortto,” Brown shared.
What’s included in the Ortto swag bag:
Reusable water bottle
An array of stickers
Techie swag bag Getting caught out with a low battery on your phone or laptop is a modern day nightmare. Save the day with a techie swag bag complete with all the goodies needed to ensure your clients and employees can stay online.
What’s included in the techie swag bag:
Smartphone holder in car
Self-care swag bag Your team works hard. It’s important to not only reward them for their hard work but also ensure they do not get burnt out. In fact, “care packs and personal everyday items have become the norm lately,” according to Chen from Good Things, ”for example, five years ago we would never have thought socks, underwear and kitchen items would be a big focus. A self-care swag bag can allow them to take an hour just for them.”
What’s included in the self-care swag bag:
Candle & matches set
Yoga mat and case
Stone face roller
Adult coloring book
3 swag bag ideas for your B2B company
Take the competitive edge off other B2B companies by creating specific swag bags designed to turn heads. Your clients and employees alike will appreciate a well thought out corporate gift bag, we’ve provided a few suggestions below.
Good vibes only swag bag
Ensure your potential and current clients are thinking of you outside of the working week by creating swag bags set for the weekend. Mercha has created the ideal collection.
What’s included in the good vibes only swag bag:
Foldable cheese & wine board
3-in-1 charging envelope
Back to the office swag bag
If you’re in an industry where it’s becoming the norm to head back into the office, help welcome your team with a new back to the office swag bag. It’s like your child’s back-to-school packs, but better! Plus everybody loves a new stationery set.
What’s included in the Back to the office swag bag:
Notebook / notepads
Calendar mouse pad
Succulent desk plant
Social giveback swag bags
A sustainable shift can be felt globally. It’s time to embrace your corporate social responsibility by creating swag bags with a cause-worthy purpose. This approach invites your employees and clients to be part of your company's values and goals, that will strengthen company loyalty.
Soapbox Soaps - with every soapbox product sold, they donate bars of soap or contribute to health and hygiene initiatives in domestic and abroad communities. The best part is your employees and clients can actually track the impact they are now a part of with a Hope Code found on the Soapbox packaging.
Corkcicle - every product sold will help bring clean water to those in need through Corkcicle’s partnership with charity: water
Do not underestimate the value of a curated swag bag, whether you are looking to drive brand recognition, or nurture client or customer relationships or simply show appreciation to your hard-working team, a swag bag is the answer.