The competition between retailers and FMCGs has become increasingly fierce over the last 12 months. Only this week, Heinz announced a £5 million umbrella marketing campaign to regain market share, using the strapline ‘It has to be Heinz’, which takes strength from the emotional tie people feel towards the brand.

BOGOFs too have played a vital role in enabling brands to compete against the supermarkets own brand products. In fact, so popular are BOGOFs and multi-buys nowadays that brands currently spend £25.6 billion annually on such promotions according to data released by the Institute of Sales Promotion.

Due to this high level of investment there have been a number of reports recently in relation to the consumer waste generated from such practices, and a suggestion from the government that they be banned. The ISP is arguing this point, stating that this was a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction, unconvinced that a blanket ban on BOGOF promotions will achieve the objective.

According to the attest research from the IGD, many consumers are also concerned with waste, with more than a quarter of respondents (26 per cent) saying they want to see an end to multi-buys on fresh food. A further 28 per cent said they are concerned about food waste created by promotions. To counteract criticism of wastage, Tesco has recently announced a novel way to tackle the problem. Putting the shopper the heart of its BOGOF promotions Tesco will soon be allowing shoppers to pick up the free item at a later date if required.

Despite peoples concerns, it can’t be denied that deep discounts such as BOGOFs will always have strong appeal and attract shoppers. However there are smarter ways to connect with shoppers – price cutting activities will help brands shift stock over the promotional period however they fail to engender long term loyalty or connect with peoples values they way in which socially aware campaigns can.

Having a deep understanding of how to connect to shoppers is the key here, and it is perhaps surprising that in these tough economic times, shoppers are more socially aware and altruistic than ever. Shoppers are shifting away from excessive consumption, with its associations of waste and environmental impact, to buying brands that make a positive contribution to the world around them. A great example is the Pampers UNICEF joint promotion to provide vaccination against newborn tetanus in the developing world. It promised 'one pack = one vaccine' and outperformed a leading competitor BOGOF promotion because shoppers were offered a straight choice between getting an extra pack free, or saving a life. The promotion was no contest, even for value-orientated mums. In contrast to the short term hit of price, these kind of promotions build brand equity, activate sales and create long term loyalty.

Simon Goodall, Director of Strategy, Saatchi and Saatchi X