Saving the Earth and saving money don’t always go hand-in-hand. As much as you might want to be environmentally-conscious while grocery shopping, reusable bags cost money. And if you forget to bring them to the store and have to buy new ones, they end up costing you even more.

But what if your reusable bags could save you money – many times over?

That’s the idea behind BrandBags, a California startup that wants to put reusable bags – and reusable coupons – into the hands of consumers across the country.

BrandBags are reusable bags that can be imprinted with just about anything – a retailer’s logo, marketing initiative or a brand advertisement. But more importantly, for value-seeking shoppers, the bags also come with coupons that you can use again and again.

To begin with, each bag has a peel-off coupon attached to it. “We had the California Milk Board participate in this bag program and they had a milk coupon attached to the bags,” Brad Maehara, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Los Angeles’ Superior Grocers, told Coupons in the News. His stores began offering the bags in January. “The biggest issue with customers and coupons is that you need to remember to bring them and use them,” he said. “Customers prefer immediate gratification and having coupons on the bag satisfies that need.”


But peel-off coupons are only the beginning. The bags are also imprinted with QR codes that you can scan to receive a digital coupon. And retailers or brands can reprogram the QR codes on a regular basis, so you can scan for brand-new offers for as long as you own your bag.

“This creates a ‘treasure hunt’ of savings for the consumer,” BrandBags partner Matt Callinan told Coupons in the News. The bags themselves are built to last for at least 125 uses, he explained, which means they can be used daily, for months. “That means one bag can deliver 20, 30, even 40 different coupons over time with the same code,” he said. So the more often you shop with a BrandBag, the more often you can save.

“The simple marriage of reusable bags and digital technology delivers something entirely new,” Callinan said. “These bags radically change the way coupons can now be delivered.”

Others have experimented with using grocery bags as a coupon-delivery mechanism. Shopping Bag Solutions reusable bags feature plastic pouches where you can keep your coupons, to help remind you to bring your bags when you go shopping. And Chatterads places peel-off coupons on plastic grocery bags.

But more and more communities are banning single-use plastic bags. So “the landscape for reusable grocery bags is rapidly expanding,” Callinan said. And placing ever-changing digital coupon offers on bags that you’re going to use over and over again, gives marketers a better chance to get the right coupons into the right hands, and give you offers you might actually want to use. “These bags are in the hands of shoppers for two to four months. This offers a lot of time for brands to find the right bait,” Callinan said. “What products do they buy? What coupons do they want? How much is required to inspire re-purchase, new product trial, or even brand migration? This is a Holy Grail in marketing.”

So far, a number of independent grocers in Southern California are offering BrandBags, and the company is working to expand its offerings to larger regional and national chains. So keep your eye on your favorite store’s reusable bags – if you start seeing coupons on them, then saving the Earth might really end up paying off.

One Comment

  1. I LOVE this idea! I sometimes forget my reusable bags and have to buy them. I little frustrating. But with coupons on the bags I get a nice payback for the purchase!

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