<<Back to Insights Nightmare on goodie bag street, The Purpose Business

The nightmare on goodie bag street

With Halloween upon us, Pat Dwyer Fiona Donnelly’s thoughts turn to horror movies, fancy dress, carved pumpkins – and ‘trick or treat’ goodie bags.

In Hong Kong however the goodie bag isn’t just saved for Halloween. In such a highly-networked and social business community, seminars and conferences are all around. In 2014 Hong Kong hosted more than 1.8 million overseas overnight MICE visitors, including three of the world&#39;s largest trade exhibitions. What do they all receive? The dreaded conference goodie bags.

You know what we’re talking about.

Loosely woven, brightly coloured “eco” bags are unsubtlely branded and full of questionable ‘goodies’ – a conference agenda, brochures, notepads, a promo cap you’ll never wear, yet another USB, pens that generally last a week before ceasing to work, metallic business card holders – in 2015?! – the ironically-named ‘eco’ water bottles and all other manners of crap that weigh you down for the entire event.

We invite everyone to cast a critical eye over these goodie bag give-aways; we believe that their more thoughtful and careful assembly and distribution could be a great way to reduce excess consumption, waste and costs without undermining the marketing ROI. Let alone the carbon footprint of schlepping them back home.

Here’s how: For the givers, aka the “bag-stuffers”:

  1. Think about the needs of the recipients. Will they really read all that literature? Do they really need another mug/pen/USB/ post it notes/keychain? What do you genuinely expect recipients to do with the contents, immediately and for the long term? If there is a practical component to the goodie bag – eg a pen or notepad that may be helpful for the event – put them in a pile on the registration table and invite attendees to take one as required.
  2. What value are you seeking to achieve from compiling and giving these bags? Do you have a clear goal that you are trying to achieve in giving these away? Does it help to justify conference fees?! If not, then take time to define objectives and critique each component against its purpose in contributing to that goal.
  3. The most important thing to give attendees is arguably the presentation materials but these can be accessed through a private link emailed to them or even in a bespoke app. Conference programmes do not need to be printed, bound and given away – that’s why you have a conference website.
  4. If you must give treats, think differently. Consider revising your range of corporate goodies to make better choices – e.g. branded giveaways that are produced in a sustainable way and with minimum packaging. You looked up the conference online and registered and paid for it online so why not get online gift certificates if you want something truly useful – and that also gives you a choice? Many options are in the market ranging from QR-coded gift certificates, vouchers for classes, restaurants, shop discounts, a book – they all go a long way.

As for goodie bag recipients, there is only one thing to do: Decline to take one. Explain to the organizers why they are of very dubious value. In fact, make them a once a year thing and save them for Halloween. At least that way you know that you’ll be getting proper goodies that can be shared and won’t cost the earth.




Original LinkedIn post: October 30, 2015






More from The Purpose Business:

Latest Insights

Articulating your purpose: your 10 point plan


Looking for meaning in your life and work, but struggling to identify and express what is most important to you? Read TPB Founder & Director […]

Businesses are using the SDGs to combat the climate crisis

Sustainability Advisor Adrian Cheng explores how focusing on SDG 14 and 15 can help Asian businesses' efforts to combat the global ecological crisis.   We are now […]

8 SDGs that support an age-friendly corporate culture

Around the world people are enjoying longer lives, which means an older workforce. Corporate cultures need to develop to be more inclusive for the ageing […]