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We found sellers on e-commerce sites selling branded paper bags in Malaysia for high prices, and took a closer look.

Published 2021-01-18 13:05:40
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Times are hard. Over the past year, we’ve seen many individuals starting their own home businesses to earn extra income from the first MCO. 

On a recent online shopping experience, my boss came across a merchant on Lazada selling what is claimed to be an original branded paper bag from MAC Cosmetics at a rather shocking price.

That paper bag is being sold for RM65.

When she shared it with us, we all immediately thought, “Why not just go to MAC, buy a lipstick or something, and get the actual paper bag at a potentially lower price?”. 

Disclaimer: We’ve opted to avoid linking or mentioning the seller’s name in the article as well as censoring parts of the screenshots to avoid leading unwanted attention directly to them.

So We Compared The Cost

The RM65 variant is actually not the only one here, as it comes in 4 different sizes, each with its own price point. 

They are: 

  • Large (RM75),
  • Medium (RM65),
  • Small (RM40), and
  • Extra Small (RM55).

Out of curiosity, I went on MAC’s online store to see what you could buy in-store for the same prices, assuming that their online and in-store prices would be the same.

When doing this quick comparison, we thought it’d only be fair to consider the shipping cost of the bag to our office in Subang Jaya as well, which is RM3.50, since it’s only available online.

With these calculations, here’s how the paper bags’ prices fare against just making an in-store purchase at MAC and getting the bag for free.

It was tough finding a product close to a Large bag’s price of RM78.50, and the closest thing we could find was MAC’s lipsticks at RM84.

At RM68.50 for a Medium paper bag, one of the closest things in cost you can find at a MAC store would be its lashes at RM69.

For the prices of a Small bag at RM43.50 and an Extra Small bag at RM58.50 respectively, we have to admit we were hard-pressed to find a MAC product at a similar price point or lower that wasn’t just a tool like a brush or a case.

On why the Small variant is cheaper than its Extra Small counterpart though, we think it could be because the seller has more quantities of the Small size available for purchase.

While it certainly seems more cost-efficient to just buy a MAC product and get the bag with it, it’s worth considering that to even get a Medium or Large bag, you’d need to purchase several products, or a large one.

In that case, you’d still be spending a significant amount of money, as MAC is no doubt a luxury brand. So for those who just really want a MAC paper bag, we can see how this seller provides some value for money.

This brings us to the next question of who’s willing to splurge on an empty bag.

Is Anyone Actually Buying This?

In the seller’s product description, they list some benefits to buying this paper bag:

  • It’s Instagrammable,
  • Suitable for photoshoots, and
  • Can be used to show off to friends.

The seller further detailed that the bag is in 98% new condition, which likely means that it’s been used at least once before.

From what we can see, no one has purchased any of the variants from the MAC paper bag listing yet. However, upon further investigation, we found they weren’t only selling MAC paper bags.

Altogether, the seller has 7 different branded paper bags you could buy, these are 4 other examples from them.

They’ve got bags from Sulwhasoo, L’Occitane, and YSL too, for example, but these don’t seem to have any buyers either.

However, the merchant has been able to sell a couple of Sephora paper bags, showing that there is actually demand for empty, branded paper bags. There are even ratings and reviews from 2 customers back in 2019. 

Based on the seller’s description, it seems like they’re aiming to sell the paper bags to micro-influencers or those who simply want to carry around a branded paper bag to show off. The bags certainly look good as background props for product shots, for example.

With further searching, we realised this seller isn’t an outlier though. We found at least 5 more sellers doing the same on Lazada and even one on Shopee, albeit they were selling them for cheaper at around RM5-RM30.

Despite going through every rating and review across the platforms and sellers, I could only find nothing but praises given to the bags’ good looks and great conditions.

Another listing we found also gave us more insight on who these sellers’ target market was, as it was named “womens new box and paperbags square boxes girlfriend gift box without scarf”.

Are some boyfriends out there buying branded paper bags to repackage a cheaper gift in hopes to fool their significant other?

With all the information we have on hand, we could assume that those who would buy these paper bags could fit one of three categories:

  • Influencers who want them for product shots or as props,
  • People who want them for gifting purposes to friends or family, or
  • Off-brand cosmetics sellers wanting to come off as more authentic from using legit packaging.

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Perhaps these sellers are avid fans of the brands, hence why they have multiples of the paper bags.

Rather than throwing them away or letting them collect dust, it’s a smarter move to give them a second life and earn some money while at it, especially in this current economy.

Furthermore, no matter how incredulous the pricing may be to you and me, they’re something that is worth the purchase to some consumers, as we’ve seen earlier with the Sephora paper bags.

  • You can read more on online shopping we’ve covered here.

Featured Image Credit: The Lazada seller

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