My "Buy One, Get One Free" Burden


My wife made me give my 12-year-old suit to charity, so I had to get a new one. Men’s Wearhouse had some nice outfits, and I was willing to pay a lot for a good suit.

Top-of-the-line models were available for $600, and they were on sale: “Buy one, get one free.” I was going to buy one even without the sale, and $600 was about what I wanted to spend. But I have almost no use for the “free” suit; I derive little consumer surplus even from a “free” second new suit.

I asked if I could get half price on the one suit, but the manager said no. I hope I am typical and that when confronted with “buy one, get one free” deals, generally most people rationally prefer half price on each item. But I wonder if that is really the case.

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  1. discordian says:

    I’m not a retail person, but I would think the buy-one-get-one thing is more about clearing inventory.

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  2. Leigh Caldwell says:

    I’m sure that most buyers would prefer a half price suit. However, most sellers prefer to receive $600 for merchandise that cost them $150 than $300 for $75!

    But I recommend taking the opportunity to spoil yourself with an extra suit. It does have a bit of additional utility:

    – you can wear suits more often, and stay looking dapper. Even if you don’t care, your wife might like it. I would wear suits all the time if I had an infinite supply.

    – you can have two different colours or styles, increasing the range of situations for which you have the right suit.

    – your two suits will last longer than one, and (provided you buy them both the same size) the endowment effect will provide you with an extra incentive to remain trim and healthy.

    Not compelling enough? Then enjoy doing your patriotic duty and stimulating the economy!

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  3. trader n says:

    looks like the workings of another paper professor hamermesh.

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  4. Aaron says:

    Unless you do not wear a suit very often, why would you have no use for a second suit? The second suit allows for variety and less wear and tear over just a single suit. As for the bogo, some people may not have use for the free item, but a deal is a deal and that trumps rationality sometimes.

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  5. BY says:

    They price stuff like that at our Kroger, but fortunately they let me buy only one–at half price.

    Who needs to buy two suits at once anyway??

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  6. Ben says:

    Even worse are the 25% off deals wrapped in “buy one get another for half off” marketing.

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  7. Steve says:

    Donate the second one (actually the first one–the one that cost $600), and take a $600 deduction off your taxes! That should lower the price of your suit by almost half!

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  8. BP says:

    I picked up 2 suits there a couple weeks ago. The second suit may be free but he tailoring is not. My total tailoring for the 2nd “free” suit was about $40. With a total bill around $500 , I was happy.

    Maybe if you had offered something more than 50% it would have helped.

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