“Marketing is Loving”
by Aya Imura

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Marketing gimmick spoiler #1 “Second item half price!”

on 2016/02/10


My husband is a sucker for this kind of thing. “Baby baby, look! Second item half price at guardian!” The moment I turn around, he was already far inside the shop, digging items like a puppy looking for bones. If you are someone like my husband, you might want to know a few things about this marketing gimmick… before you empty your wallet for it.


You might not be as smart as you think

Whenever you see “Second item half price” sign, you will be thinking like this:

“Ah-huh. Good marketing gimmick. But you cannot fool someone like me with this kind of trick. Let me calculate, if I buy two $100 items, first one is $100 and second one is $50….. total $150…. Which means, 25% off from original price. Well, it’s not that dramatic number but hey, still a good discount. Maybe I have something to buy, maybe?”

Actually, smart ass like you are the easiest target to trick. The whole idea is to trigger your desire to enter the shop.


Second item means “cheaper item”

If you buy two items which are priced exactly the same, yes you are getting 25% off. But that is the maximum discount you can expect. When you are buying two items of different prices, cheaper item will be considered “second item” and you will get discount only on that item. So if you buy: Item A at $100 & Item B at $30,

100 + 30*1/2 = 115 (about 12% off from original price $130)

Here we go. You don’t get as much discount as you expected.


Human cannot resist the power of BOGO

This pricing belongs to a category called BOGO(F), “Buy One Get One (Free)”, one of the most popular pricing tactics of all time. According to research, BOGO is proven to be more attractive than any other discount deals.


(Research by AMG)

This type of deal is almost irresistible, because your perceived value of the items are maintained at the original price.

Whereas in the case of 25% direct discount, or for that matter, any percentage of discount, your psychological impression of the “discounted” item ranks lower in terms of quality.

With BOGO or “Second item half price”, you perceive a special promotion on a “non-discountable” original priced item. The incentive just feels a lot bigger on your mind than you think.


Do you feel cheated now? Well, as a marketer, I don’t want you to take it that way. Pricing/marketing gimmicks like BOGO exists to make your shopping experience more exciting and fun. You will get a delightful shopping experience, and the shop will get more opportunity from you. Win-win situation here, isn’t it?


Written by: Aya Imura


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