clock menu more-arrow no yes

Why “buy one, get one free” isn’t a great deal

BOGO specials can sound like the best way to get more bang for your buck. But they’re simply not as good a deal as they appear.

For thrifty shoppers, a “buy one, get one” (BOGO) special can sound like the best way to get more bang for their buck. But often, it’s simply not as good a deal as it appears.

BOGO is in fact so appealing that it’s hard for consumers to see it for what it is.

Often, it’s difficult for consumers to tell whether BOGO is fair or deceptive, and often their judgment is clouded by one four-letter word: free.

The deal disguises the fact that unless you already intended to buy two items, it really isn’t all that big a discount.

Translated into a straight discount, the total saved from a “buy one, get one 50 percent off” deal would be the same as 25 percent off the total purchase. But the amount of money you spent in the store has grown because you bought two items.

Buying more than one item means consumers spend more money than they intended, not less.

So BOGO deals can be fantastic if you’re looking to buy in bulk and stretch your dollar. But for most of us, free isn’t always the best option.

Watch this video to learn how retailers use “buy one, get one” deals to get you to shop even more. Check out more from The Goods by Vox, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Vox videos.