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BOGO and B1G1 redefined

By David Anttony

Definitions of some English words can change quite rapidly these days. In the recent past the meaning of words was often very fixed. Today the meaning can change in the blink of an eye. With faster and newer ways to exchange ideas such as Twitter and with wider and more culturally, socially and educationally dissimilar groups connecting together – words are put back on the anvil of evolution and changed into something new and more reflective of current life.

There is a growing global movement where consumers are asking businesses to take care of the things that they care about. The request is mainly tacit and despite it being an ironic request it non-the-less signals that we are in a time of change. Consumers these days want their ‘goodies’ but they don’t want the environment to be destroyed in the creation of their ‘goodies’. They want cheap products but they do not want workers to suffer to create those cheap products.

Until recently there was no real answer to this complex puzzle but today one actually exists. It exists in the reforging of a simple single word – GET. Today there is a new movement of consumers wanting to get and at the same time give. They are reforging the word GET into the word GIVE.

Every day automated email notices arrive in my inbox from Google Alerts for two keywords – BOGO and B1G1. I see all the new places these words are turning up on the Internet. Little by little these two words are gaining a their new meaning as more and more people take up the Buy One Give One cause.

The B1G1 and BOGO acronyms both stand for Buy One GET One free. You buy one and you get given an extra one for free.

If you look on Wikipedia you will find these definitions for BOGO (there isn’t a definition yet for B1G1 – there will be soon when I write one!):

* An acronym in the retail industry that stands for Buy One Get One. For example, you could say “Buy 1 DVD, Get 1 FREE!

* An acronym in slang British that stands for Britons Of Greek Origin or Greek Britons.

* Bogo, Cebu, a city in central Philippines.

* An alternate name for the Bilen ethnic group of Ethiopia or their language, Blin.

* Norway, a village in Norway.

* The mascot of the ITESM CEM.

* BogoMips, an unscientific measurement of CPU speed

* Bogosort, an ineffective sorting algorithm

BOGO lights

There is a business in the USA called SunLight Solar founded by Mark Bent. He has created a special torch that not only is an amazing and sturdy solar-powered light; his company also gives a free torch to those in need in developing nations for each one bought. If you look on their website you will learn about their “BOGOlight”. – “The BoGo – our Buy one/Give one – program has successfully provided lights to many, many thousands of people in the developing world, changing lives because of your purchase and participation.”

Mark Bent has flipped the BOGO acronym upside down when he started to use the word as part of his product name. For him now and the thousands who buy his lights, BOGO today means Buy One GIVE One. Each person gets to give a light every time they buy one for themselves. So now with each sale people who do not have the benefit of electricity can tap the power of the sun to support them in their lives.

There are many other well known and less well know businesses now doing Buy One Give One giving or transactional giving as it is becoming known. Some of the famous ones are One-Laptop-Per-Child (OLPC) and TOM’S Shoes. Some of the less well-known ones (in the USA at least) are based in New Zealand, Australia and the UK – Earthstar Publishing, Maple Muesli, Blinds Couture, Figure 8 Body Chains, Sunsplash Homes, Honestly Women magazine and Thavibu Gallery based in Thailand are just a handful of special businesses that are heading the Buy One Give One movement.

Many Buy One Give One businesses are coming together under the single brand banner of Buy1GIVE1; a Singaporean based social enterprise which is becoming the home of transaction based giving. Any business can now choose to be part of Buy One Give One giving with ease. It’s like a CSR ‘plug-in’ to allow a business to start giving from each and every sale today – starting from just one cent. It is now not even a matter of giving an equivalent product to someone else. Instead it is about giving to a charity project that is in resonance with a company’s business activity. For example a magazine publisher cannot support the planting of a tree every time they sell a subscription, a restaurant can feed a child for each meal sold, a TV store can gift a cataract blind person with the gift of sight (Get Vision-Give Vision), and a builder or property developer can build a budget home for those in need who have lost their homes in a disaster (Buy1BUILD1) – the list is only limited by imagination.

Something special is happening these days as more and more people are switching onto giving and ‘citizen brands’ as a part of their everyday experience. The 2008 Edelman Goodpurpose global study of consumer attitudes reveal that almost seven in 10 (68%) consumers would choose to remain loyal to a brand during a recession if it supports a good cause, and 71% say that when they think about the economic downturn, they have either given the same or more time and money to good causes. This very same study highlighted some other major things as well like:

* Half (52%) of consumers globally are more likely to recommend a brand to others when it supports a good charity cause over one that does not.

* 52% of consumers globally are more likely to tell others of a brand when it supports a good charity cause over one that doesn’t.

* Globally consumers are voicing a distinct desire for marketers to associate their brands to social causes. Forty-two percent say that if two products or services are of a similar quality and price, commitment to a cause trumps factors like innovation, design and brand loyalty when selecting one brand over another.

Turning Getting into Giving

In the minds of consumers, Buy One GIVE One is sure to replace Buy One GET One as the global giving movement led by Buy1GIVE1 ripples out. Certainly with the large consumer demand shown for products from companies like BOGOlights, TOMS Shoes and One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), this tide will continue to spread.

I did a Google search on the 25 topmost key words connected with the keyword BOGO as an experiment to see what would show up. The results were interesting so I have displayed them below. You may notice that right now the word Give doesn’t show up. It will be interested to do this test again in twelve months time to see what changes. Consumers are now driving change and yes they want to receive free gifts (traditional B1G1/BOGO) but equally they also want to give to others or see others being given to.

Here are the search results:

Free, shopping, pics, join, prose, photography, blogging, discount, boots, groups, music, dallas, togo themes, wallpapers, buy, applications, skins, values, coupon, gift, sharing, networking, African.

Transaction-based or transactional giving

Unlike traditional charity giving, Buy One Give One giving is transactional in that every time you buy something, you give something. In the case of SunNight Solar they happen to give a physical light for every light sold. However, in most cases, Buy1GIVE1 associated businesses give in a different way. At Buy1GIVE1, giving can start from just USD 1c contribution per sale and go up to thousands of dollars in the case of Buy1BUILD1. At 1cent almost every business in the world can afford to give from each sale especially when they know 100% contributed goes to the cause.

The actual amount given from each and every sale is not the point of focus with Buy1GIVE1 transaction based giving. It is not about saying 10% is contributed or 5c from each sale – instead the focus is on the story and sharing the simple joy of giving. In the end, if you think that 1c is not a lot to contribute and is not likely to make much of a difference think again and consider the following.

Coffee consumption has spread globally and Brazil is by far the largest coffee producer in the world producing on average 28% of all coffee grown. In 2006 Brazil grew enough coffee to brew 216,400,000,000 (216 billion 400 million) espresso coffees! If we were to make this calculation across global production amounts then we get an amazing number for the daily global consumption of around 2,117,416,830 (2 billion 117 million) cups of coffee – wow! The figures are not easy to find but if we guessed that around 40% of the world’s coffee is purchased in coffee shops then we would find that 846 million 966,732 cups are sold commercially each day globally – almost 900 million. This would equate to about’5 million cups in the US alone seeing they purchase around 21% of the world’s coffee.

Now imagine that for every cup of coffee sold a child was given clean drinking water from its own well. It costs just 1cent per person per day to do this. Any coffee shop could afford to contribute this amount from the sale of a cup of coffee. Instead of clean water a coffee shop could contribute for the education of coffee farmers’ children, costing from 23cents per child per day. The options and stories are unlimited as well as the potential difference that Buy One Give One transactional giving can make to the lives of many.

Transactional giving is the story of the thousand-mile journey starting with that first single step. Digging a well costs a few thousand dollars so it’s a big barrier for communities in developing nations. However if you break the cost down it only takes the sale of a cup of coffee to give clean water to a single person for a day1. This is the power of transactional giving. It is like the compound interest of giving – a little turns into a lot very quickly.

Of course any company can do transaction-based giving with any of its products or services and do it on their own as some are like TESCO in the UK giving school uniforms to kids in Africa in partnership with Save the Children. And yet if companies choose to join together under a commonly recognised banner/brand they can have a powerful effect. The ripple that a single company creates is added to that of another and the ripple grows into a tidal wave of giving. This is the power of giving and doing things together.

The final power of Buy One Give One transaction based giving is that everyone wins – the consumer wins – at no extra cost to themselves they have made a difference through their purchasing choices – the business wins in so many ways – and the worthy cause or charity wins because they can now receive small amounts from many sources all aggregated and paid as a lump sum from a single source if done through the Buy1GIVE1 service.

A new start

If you go right now and check for the word BOGO you should find that a new definition has been added. And soon B1G1 will be added. It is time for a sea-change – a change from the focus on GETTING to focusing on GIVING. I personally added a small addition to Wikipedia’s BOGO definition that says this: “… an acronym in the marketing industry that stands for Buy One GIVE One.”

Imagine a world where every time you buy you are giving a gift forward to someone in greater need than you. This is the magic of transactional giving – seamless and simple.

This is the world I want to be part of.

And remember – you don’t ‘get’ giving till you get giving.


Footnotes: 1 The daily cost for clean well water per person is calculated by taking the average cost to dig a well then dividing that amount by its average expected life without major maintenance then divided it by the number of people in the community benefiting from the well on a daily basis.

Find out more about how Buy1GIVE1 (BOGO) can transform your business using Cause Marketing.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Anttony, David "BOGO and B1G1 redefined." BOGO and B1G1 redefined. 12 Jan. 2009. 20 Jul 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Anttony, D (2009, January 12). BOGO and B1G1 redefined. Retrieved July 20, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Anttony, David "BOGO and B1G1 redefined"

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