Ending of 'Bogof' just a first step
Recently published figures from the Money Advice Service (MAS) - an independent body set up by the Government - have shown that 76% of consumers spend much more than they mean to when they go shopping in supermarkets.
And, sadly, that 76% includes me - in spite of the fact that I have been teaching retail marketing for 26 years and understand exactly the tricks which the supermarkets play on unsuspecting consumers in order to entice them to buy more.
It has been estimated that, annually, the average household spends in excess of £1,270 more than it need have done had it been more aware of clever marketing ploys implemented by the leading supermarket chains.
Marketing tricks include the ubiquitous 'Bogof' (Buy one, get one free). For decades consumers have been falling prey to the marketing departments of the supermarket chains, and that includes small operators as well as the behemoths.
Following the publication of the MAS statistics Sainsbury's was first to announce that it would axe multi-buy deals by August this year. You can be certain others will be quick to follow its example.
It has been claimed that consumers sometimes actually find multi-buy promotions confusing.
Of course, supermarkets are keen to point out that the end of Bogofs will not result in consumers not getting the best deals possible.
Personally, I love a bargain, and nothing appeals to me more than buying one and getting one free. But, like many others, far too often I've had to dispose of way too much out-of-date produce.
It should be noted, however, that the new supermarket guidelines do not include a ban on multi-buy promotions; instead they are setting out precise rules for offers and promotions so that they contain only honest, accurate, reliable and clear information.
It seems that this latest marketing approach will solve the problem, at least partially.
That is until the marketing directors find another angle on price-point and shifting volume from their shelves come the end of August.
Donald C McFetridge is a retail analyst at Ulster University