The showbag is a themed based bag of commercial and official merchandise, and a distinctive feature of Australian shows (the Australian term for fairs or carnivals). The bag is usually made from plastic or heavy paper, and is printed with graphics promoting the theme or manufacturer/ marketer etc, one of the most common fairs in Australia where showbags are marketed and sold is the annual Sydney Royal Easter Show, where an exclusive "Showbag Pavillion", is a dedicated feature to consumers.
Showbags were also once known as sample bags, as they originally contained samples of the range of goods produced by a single vendor or brand group. Such sample bags were originally given free of charge (as early as 1932) or carried only a nominal charge, to promote brand awareness; however this is now unusual, with showbag prices as at 2007 commonly in the A$10–20 range. The rising cost of showbags is often identified as a major negative aspect of shows. In 2008, there was a $10,000 showbag. Despite this, it is generally assumed that the total retail value of the individual contents of a showbag will exceed the price charged for the package.
Common themes for showbags include confectionery brands, trademarked toys such as Barbie, The Simpsons, G.I. Joe and Batman, broad areas of children's play interest such as "cowboy" or "pirate", and sporting teams. Showbags may also be created for and named after current fads, especially children's movies on current release.
Most showbags are marketed to children, containing toys, sweets and chocolate. Comic books were frequently included in showbags in the 1970s and 1980s, but the practice has declined since. Showbags may also be marketed to the adult consumer, with themes including cosmetics, fashion, premium confectionery and adult toys.
- "SAMPLES". The Argus (Melbourne) (26,867). Victoria, Australia. 24 September 1932. p. 8. Retrieved 15 April 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- Dubecki, Larissa; et al. (2002-09-26). "Either way your wallet's a loser". The Age, Melbourne. Retrieved 2007-02-01.
- Swift, Tyronne (2004-07-07). "Been there, done that but show's still a hoot". Alice Springs News. Retrieved 2007-02-01.
- "Grand Ridge Ultimate Beer & Beef (Good GRUBB) Showbag", Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria
- "CLEO Magazine Showbag" Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales, Retrieved 29 March 2010