Have you ever gotten two items in a “Buy One, Get One Free” sale, when you really only need one? Or, if you’re a little more extreme, let’s say you got 20 items and don’t have anywhere to put the other 20. Well, one supermarket chain has the answer, by giving the “GO” in “BOGO” a new meaning this holiday season.

Hannaford Supermarkets, which operates stores throughout New England and New York, this week launched its fifth annual “Hannaford Helps Fight Hunger” campaign. Similar to other grocery stores’ campaigns, customers can purchase a box of food, or donate money at the checkout, to help feed the hungry in their community. What makes Hannaford’s program unique, is the aspect that upends the age-old BOGO promotion. Each week, a designated store brand product goes BOGO – “Buy One, Give One.” For each item purchased, Hannaford will donate an identical item to a local food bank.

This week, the participating product is the private label “My Essentials” spaghetti. Next week, it’s pasta sauce; the following week, a can of green beans. “There’s nothing extra you need to do, and these are foods you’ll want to stock up on anyway,” Hannaford announced on its Facebook page, “so why not make your purchase twice as nice?”

“Last year, Hannaford donated 68,431 boxes of spaghetti, 40,542 cans of tuna and 35,164 cans of soup through this initiative,” Hannaford spokesman Eric Blom told Coupons in the News. “Hannaford Helps Fight Hunger has provided about $4 million in support to local food pantries and food banks,” he continued, and “Buy One, Give One” alone has generated “hundreds of thousands of dollars in product donations during the five years.”


In addition to being generous, it’s also smart business. It’s no accident that the participating products are Hannaford’s own. “These are popular items,” Blom said of the “My Essentials” labeled products. “By including these affordable, high-volume products, we are making it easier for our customers to contribute to the community while also purchasing the products they need for themselves.”

And it certainly wouldn’t hurt if it encourages some generous customers who might not otherwise buy store brands, to give them a try. The launch of “Buy One, Give One” in 2008 came right at the beginning of the economic downtown, just as more budget-conscious shoppers began turning to store brands. That was good news for retailers, who enjoy much bigger profit margins from selling their own product. Consumption of private label products peaked at 29% earlier this year, reports the Wall Street Journal, but it’s since dipped. As the economy improves, and national brand manufacturers get more aggressive on pricing, it’s getting a little more difficult to get people to buy generic (read: “Why We Love, And Hate, Generics”). “Private label may be hitting a proverbial glass ceiling,” the research firm SymphonyIRI reported recently.

But perhaps only the most cynical would question Hannaford’s motivation in using its own products for the “Buy One, Give One” campaign. “It’s pretty simple,” Blom offered. “My Essentials products offer our best prices for staple items – the goods that customers need most.” Retail analyst and private brand consultant Christopher Durham, who runs the website My Private Brand, says the program is a win-win, for Hannaford and the community. “This is a great promotion,” he tells Coupons in the News. “It is nice to see a retailer actively working to build their own brands and combine it with helping their community.”

“Buy One, Give One” may be unique in the grocery industry, but not in retail – several companies have built their entire business model around the concept. Whether they’re giving extra pairs of shoes to poor Africans, blankets to orphaned children or, in Hannaford’s case, pasta to hungry neighbors, everyone ultimately benefits. “While every other retailer is busy baiting the consumer with the same old discounts and offers,” retail analyst Doug Stephens told Retail Wire, “I think anything that encourages more charitable and generous consumer behaviors is refreshing.”

Hannaford’s “Buy One, Give One” program runs through December 15th.


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