Showbags are also 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, 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, GI 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, candy 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.
Showbag may also be abbreviated to showbs, in reference to popular Australian comedian Michael Veitch's son, Wil Veitch.