Friday, January 22, 2010


By David Anttony

Definitions of words often change quite quickly these days. In the distant past the meaning of words was often set in stone. Today the meaning can change in a blink. With new faster ways to communicate with wider and more culturally, socially and education

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.

B1G1 and BOGO, despite sounding like characters from a Marvel comic are acronyms for Buy One GET One free. You buy one and they give you an extra one for the same price.

Look up BOGO on (there isn't a definition yet for B1G1) and you will discover these definitions for BOGO:

* 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.

* Norway, a village in Norway.

* Norway, a village in Norway.

* The mascot of the ITESM CEM.

* Bogosort, an ineffective sorting algorithm

* Bogosort, an ineffective sorting algorithm

BOGO Lights - torches that give

There's an entrepreneurial business in the USA called SunLight Solar which was founded by Mark Bent. They've created a special torch that's not only an amazing and sturdy solar-powered light; his company also gives a free torch to that in need in developing countries every time one is sold. If you look up their website you will learn more about their "BOGO light". - "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 many less well know businesses doing Buy One Give One giving, or transaction-based giving as its becoming known. Some of the famous companies are OLPC - One-Laptop-Per-Child and TOM'S Shoes. Some of the less well-known ones (in the US at least) are based in Oceania 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 small handful of these special businesses that are leading the Buy One Give One movement.

There are many Buy One Give One businesses now uniting under the common brand banner of Buy1GIVE1 managed by a Singapore based social enterprise which is becoming the home of transaction-based giving. Any business in the world can now integrate Buy One Give One giving with ease. It's like a 'CSR plug-in' allowing a business to instantaneously start giving from each and every sale, starting from just 1 cent. It's also no longer about giving an equivalent product to someone else. Instead it is about contributing to a project that resonates with a company's activity. For example a restaurant can feed a child, a television retailer can give a cataract blind person the gift of sight (Get Vision-Give Vision), a magazine publisher can plant a tree every time they sell a subscription and a property developer can build a low-cost family home for those in need (Buy1BUILD1) - the list is simply endless.

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:

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

* and 54% would champion a brand to promote a product if there was a good cause behind it.

* 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 expected to replace Buy One GET One as the new global giving movement led by Buy1GIVE1 spreads. Certainly with the massive sales results and consumer demand shown for companies like BOGOlights, One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) and TOMS Shoes, this tide will continue to spread and grow.

I did a recent Google search to find the 25 top key words associated with the keyword BOGO. The results were very interesting in that none of them currently contained the word Give. I have displayed the results below. It will be interested to repeat this test in twelve months time and see what changes. Consumers are starting to drive major change and despite still wanting to receive free gifts (as in traditional B1G1/BOGO), they equally want to help others and the environment. This sentiment is validated by the 2008 Goodpurpose global study.

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.

Transactional or transaction based giving

Buy One Give One giving is transactional - every time you buy something, you give something. In the case of SunNight Solar, TOMS Shoes and OLPC they happen to give physical products of the same nature for everyone sold. However, in most cases, Buy1GIVE1 associated businesses give a charitable contribution from each sale. Giving can start from just a one-cent contribution per sales transaction and go up to thousands of dollars in the case of Buy1BUILD1. At 1cent any business in the world can afford to give from each sale especially when they also know 100% of the contribution 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.

From its origins in Ethiopia, where the main coffee production is still from wild coffee tree forests, coffee consumption has spread globally. Brazil is still by far the largest coffee producer in the world producing on average 28% of the world's total coffee. In 2006 Brazil produced enough coffee to make 216,400,000,000 (216 billion four hundred million) espresso coffees. If we were to calculate across global production then we get a daily global consumption of around 2,117,416,830 cups of coffee - wow. The figures are somewhat hard to track down but let's guess that 40% of the world's coffee is sold and consumed in coffee shops then we would get that 846,966,732 cups are sold commercially each day globally - nearly 900 million. This would equate to about'5,485,714 cups in the US on its own seeing they purchase around 21% of the world's coffee.

If we considered the impact of the coffee industry alone taking up Buy1-Give1, imagine now that for every cup of coffee sold a child in a developing region like Sub-Sahara Africa received clean drinking water from a well and it only costing 1cent to do this. Surely any coffee shop could afford to contribute this amount from the sale of a single cup of coffee. Imagine the different that this one action alone would make in the world.

Transaction-based giving is the story of a thousand-mile journey starting with a single step. Digging a well costs a few thousand dollars, however when you break the cost down it only takes the sale of a single cup of coffee to give clean water to a single person for a day1. This is the incredible and simple power of transactional giving. It is like the compound interest of giving - a little turns into a huge amount very quickly.

So many companies are used to doing things on their own. Doing transactional giving is no different. A company can go out find a cause and start doing Buy One Give One giving. And yet they are missing the point when they do this. Buy1GIVE1 giving is about sharing the joy of giving and not trying to change the world. As soon as you step up and say you are going to change the world then the world will step up and challenge you. Within a heartbeat a company would experience the sharp scrutiny of the media inspecting their every move. And yet when a company steps up and says it is supporting what its customer want and joins with others in its industry to do that in a win-win way, the story is different. When companies choose to join together under a commonly recognised banner/brand they can have a powerful joint effect. The ripple that a single company creates is added to that of another and the ripple grows into a tidal wave that benefits so many. This is the power of giving and doing things together.

Everyone wins with Buy-One-Give-One transaction-based giving. The consumer wins - at no extra cost to themselves they've made a difference to the lives of others through their purchasing choices. The business also wins in so many tangible and intangible ways. And of course the charity partner wins because they are now able to receive small amounts from numerous sources aggregated and paid in a lump sum on a regular basis allowing them to focus on what they do rather than raising funds.

A new beginning

If you check Wikipedia today you should find that a new definition has been added for BOGO. It is time for a change. A change from focusing on GETTING to focusing on GIVING. The subtlety in the words that we use so often point to a deeper underlying meaning. I added this small addition to Wikipedia, "... an acronym in the marketing industry that stands for Buy One GIVE One."

Simply imagine our world where every time you go and buy something you give something automatically and seamlessly - giving a gift forward to someone in greater need than you. This is the simple joyful magic of transactional giving.

This is the world I want to be part of.

And remember - you don't 'get' giving till you get giving.


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

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