BOGOs Redefined (Buy One, Give One)

Discussion
Jul 22, 2010
George Anderson

By George Anderson

A growing number of retailers are looking to appeal to consumers’
generous side by turning the traditional notion of a BOGO (buy one, get one)
on its head. Companies such as Whitten Grey’s Project Little Grey Dress,
Happy Blankie, TOMS and others are offering to give one item away to a needy
child for every item purchased.

According to a report on the Springwise website,
consumers who buy an eco-friendly dress  at Whitten Grey’s Project Little Grey
Dress are given a unique code with the purchase. They then go online and choose
between Guatemala, Liberia, Malawi and Zimbabwe as the destination for the
dress. Kids choose the color of the dress they would like to send and get
to include a personal note.

Happie Blankie offers a line of four plush fabric and satin
animal blankets — puppy, pig, frog and teddy bear — that range in size from
18-by-18-inch ($29) to 48-by-56-inch ($99). When one is purchased, the company
donates another to a small child in a hospital or orphanage. Here, too, the
buyer of the first blanket gets to choose where the second will go.

Sites such
as Whitten Grey and Happy Blankie appeal to consumers trendwatching.com calls
Generation G. “For many, sharing a passion and receiving recognition have
replaced ‘taking’ as the new status symbol. Businesses should follow this societal/behavioral
shift, however much it may oppose their decades-old devotion to me, myself
and I.”

Discussion Questions: Is the new BOGO (Buy One, Give One) a sustainable
marketing strategy for companies such as Whitten Grey and Happie Blankie?
Do you see the new BOGOs as a promotional tactic that traditional retailers
can use to generate interest and sales for their businesses?

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13 Comments on "BOGOs Redefined (Buy One, Give One)"


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Bob Phibbs
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

My understanding is that Toms shoes has yet to be profitable after 3 years. Is this really a retailer, or a charity?

Alison Chaltas
Guest
Alison Chaltas
10 years 9 months ago

Cause marketing is an effective good-will building strategy. It is so on trend to make shoppers feel they are giving back to society through their personal purchases. Sure BOGOs for charity are catchy but in our experience are not more effective than 10% of profits to sales. The key is the charity has to be relevant to the target shopper, and the donation meaningful enough to feel like we are making a difference. The key here is retailers and manufacturers need to be genuine in their cause marketing. Shoppers see through “charitable” promotions and it can backfire and create skepticism unless part of a genuine commitment and philanthropy. Take a look at P&G’s Pur safe water efforts or Unilever’s Dove self esteem fund for examples of how to do it right.

Max Goldberg
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

When everyone is doing it, BOGOs won’t be special and therefore won’t stand out in consumers’ minds. The tactics work because it is unusual, which captures a customer’s attention.

Mark Johnson
Guest
Mark Johnson
10 years 9 months ago

Challenging economic times need creative measures, but we need to make sure we do not change the buying behavior long term, since it will be hard to change back and will have long-term financial considerations.

Peter Fader
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

It may seem mean-spirited to be critical of such efforts, but I see this as a passing fad, plain and simple.

Roger Saunders
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

My wife and I were doing some shopping at Kroger after a round of golf a couple of weekends ago. Kroger had a cashier selling “Root Beer Floats” with 100% of the funds going to the M/S Foundation.

A great summer time treat. A good cause. And, two adults who laid down two bucks for the charity, and walked out of the store with A&W Root Beer and Kroger ice cream.

Retailers can’t make cause marketing work every weekend, but doing it selectively creates an appeal and win for everybody, even if we chose not to make a purchase that day.

Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
10 years 9 months ago

While a noble idea, the timing is questionable. With the economy as it is, paying twice as much for a product for a “feel-good” moment doesn’t make much sense. Much better to try this when the customer is more optimistic.

Anne Bieler
Guest
Anne Bieler
10 years 9 months ago

Cause marketing is a very powerful way to reach your consumer–but must truly mean something to the shopper. As well intentioned as these initiatives appear, there is a risk that sending dresses or toys to needy families may not create the connection intended. They appear to be occasional gifts, and while appreciated, some might worry about very limited distribution in the face of much greater need.

I think it is important that there is a close tie in with the cause that the shopper relates to and has the longer-term potential to make a difference. Putting a “face” on the cause is essential but it might be smaller scale, or local, or a part of a larger initiative with special ties to the marketer.

The potential for companies to do something good will only grow in importance in the mind of the shopper.

Doug Fleener
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

While I’m sure it can’t help but give the customer a brief feel-good moment, one does have to wonder if it creates purchase intent in the consumer or a stronger connection with the retailer. Without either of those last two, it wouldn’t appear to have much sustainability.

Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
10 years 9 months ago

If retailers want to try to do something significant, they should try thinking about their own customers. The fact is that there is so much free stuff available to the underprivileged that many won’t even go to the trouble to go get it or apply for it. One do-gooder group or another will deliver it to them or fill out the application for them.

I give more to charity than most, and do more volunteer work than most and I can assure you that kids in the USA aren’t going without food or school supplies. If the retailers want to do something significant, then they should try reducing their cost to the consumer so the consumer could feed his/her family a little cheaper. It actually hurts for prices to get jacked up so you can afford to give away something to someone who doesn’t need your gift. Another example of deceptive marketing that actually hurts everyone involved.

Doug Stephens
Guest
Doug Stephens
10 years 9 months ago

After the period of unprecedented excess we as North American consumers have just come through, I think anything that encourage more charitable and generous consumer behaviors is refreshing.

What I really like about it is simply that it’s different. While every other retailer is busy baiting the consumer with the same old discounts and offers, these businesses are actually trying to create a point of differentiation.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

I like the BOGO model, especially when it comes to the costly Crystal Light iced tea we drink. I think BOGO has given us a four month supply.

Taking it to the non-grocery retailer model, this has to be used judiciously to make it effective yet maintaining some semblance of a corporate profit. I believe it has its place. But I wonder if it can be maintained over a long period such as TOMS is trying to achieve with their version of BOGO. Have they generated a profit since starting up? I am not sure; but have my doubts. Someone has to be paying shipping and airline charges to go to these countries and distribute the shoes, dresses or blankets depending on the company.

Steve Montgomery
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

In my experience, people rally for a cause, a crisis, and a charismatic leader. As a retailer, the only one of the three that works for a marketing strategy is a cause. I do agree that one has to be careful to match the cause to the target customer.

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