BOGO: Digging Into A Deceptively Simple Marketing Ploy

The age-old gimmick is taking a new trajectory in our current economy. BOGO: Digging Into A Deceptively Simple Marketing Ploy Shutterstock

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It’s been around almost as long as retail discounts themselves: Buy one, get one free.

On its surface, the deal sounds too good to pass up. But while the BOGO gimmick might have been straightforward in the past, it’s now morphing into something that might not be as simple (or economical) as it appears.

A brief history

Why would retailers ever give away a second item for free? It essentially operates as a half-off discount but typically requires the customer to buy two of the same product.

And when businesses have too much of some item, this can be a useful strategy to clear out inventory while making customers happy.

Due to a combination of new tech and more cost-conscious consumers, however, it’s not always so easy to get the same results from those old-school BOGO promotions. So retailers of all types have started to reimagine the scheme, which has resulted in some new trends that savvy shoppers should know about.

Digging for data

You might have heard about a recent “Emergency Pizza” promo by Domino’s Pizza, which allows customers to reserve a free pizza at a later date by paying full price for one now. At its core, this is a BOGO deal, but you can’t get your free item right away.

Instead, you’ll need to join the company’s loyalty program and order the freebie later online. This all allows Domino’s to collect more information about you and can be used for personalized marketing.

But it’s not just Domino’s. There are various hurdles that customers have to clear these days in order to collect so-called “free” items. And as marketing exec Beth Ann Kaminkow explained, there’s one common objective: “They’re asking, what are the terms that make it make sense for companies? I think they are just getting smarter.”

Chris Agee
Chris Agee November 22nd, 2023
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