Buy One, Take One Free

The right to consume has become a fundamental right, never mind the consequences. The mantra today is to maximise profit at any cost. Innovative selling and advertising have made the gullible customer ready to buy anything, if attractively packaged. The ultimate king customer is also like the fly waiting to walk into the web trap of the spider.

Look at the area near checkout counters in Food stores and supermarkets. Nearly expiring ‘Sell-bydate’ juice packs and ready-to-eat food items, packets of socks and towels, out of style footwear, etc. are on offer of ‘Buy one take one free’. It is all a matter of getting rid of space occupying inventory.

This selling strategy began in India with the offer of plastic buckets with giant size packs of a famous detergent brand Surf. The MNC faced a sudden drop in sales because of the entry of Nirma, a cheaper detergent produced by a small local company. The strategy was to rubbish the cheaper new product as soap powder. When this argument did not wash, it changed its colours and claimed that its superior product produced sparkling white clothes that would win in any situation like a promotion at work, admission to school etc. The cheaper competition was shown in a grubby light.

This ad campaign had no effect while reducing the price of its product drastically to kill the competitor meant loss of face. Washing meant buckets, so a free Brite plastic bucket was thrown in to catch the customer. The joke that was then mooted was it a bucket for the detergent packet or the detergent offered free with the bucket? The idea caught on as plastic buckets were a novelty then and housewives fell for the ad offer. However, unable to sustain the added costs, the company had to introduce another product at a much lower price to match the competitor.

Another tactic employed by companies to raise prices of products is to throw in something extra as a freebie (including a Frisbee!). The trick was to increase the price of the product by say 10% and to circumvent customer resistance, a small freebie like a spoon or storage jar was offered. The gullible customer, who hardly ever checked prices when buying the month’s grocery list, would be attracted by the free gift and fall into the trap. The customer would get used to the product and its increased price and then the freebie would be withdrawn.

FreeA modified version of this price increase strategy was to offer a little extra quantity temporarily. In this genre comes the offer in supermarkets of substandard goods or goods with low shelf life on “Promotion Sale” with the attractive selling line, ‘Buy 2, take 1 free’. With cut throat price wars, Airlines too are regularly offering 2 seats if you pay for 1. This offer is really attractive to officialdom and corporate bosses travelling at the expense of their organizations. They end up buying two for the price of none!

There are dire warnings that the real estate scene is heading for a big bust. In the USA it has been a bad couple of years for property buying and selling. For all you know in our copy-cat globalized environment, the Indian bubble may also burst and we may be able to buy two flats for the price of one. The marketing strategy is already in place—free garage or terrace is being offered for high end apartments. Real estate prices are in the stratosphere, especially in the metros. With the mushrooming of huge complexes, unrealistic prices and dull investment scenario, the signs of a Realty tsunami are already blowing in.

Maybe soon we may get interesting offers like study for a degree and get one thrown in free; with petrol prices zooming–buy a SUV and get a cycle or two-wheeler free. Why it may even come to the point what with women population going down—take a husband and get another for free or adopt a girl child and get a boy baby free. Why even newspapers are losing ground and we may get a business paper free with a mainline newspaper.

AadiTamil Nadu is already in the Aadi Sales mood and old inventory is flooding shops to be sold to the gullible consumer. Papers are getting ready for a blitz of SALE ads and leaflets are insidiously being inserted into the daily newspaper, into your front door, in your letter box and even into the milk bag that is hung at the front door!

Oh well! The possibilities are infinite and our commercial consultant gurus will always come up with new tricks, but certainly not for free!

AASHAD/AADI—THE HINDU HOLY MONTH                                            

The worship of the female principle—Goddess Shakthi especially is an important aspect of Hinduism.  Aadi is the fourth month in the Hindu calendar. All Fridays featured in the two months of the calendar, Thai (Pausha/Taiya in January Februaryand Aadi (Aashad in July-August) are dedicated especially to her worship.

Women worship the Goddess and sweet modak orkozhakattai is offered as prasad to Devi. Lamps made from rice flour and gur/vellam are lit in homes and temples. In the south, women are honoured withtamboolam, a blouse piece, bangles and other auspicious symbols on Fridays. As Aadi occurs right in the middle of the South Western monsoon, weddings and ritualistic celebrations are not scheduled. The weather does not favour celebrations. Only temple festivals, especially in Devi shrines, take place and community feeding is an integral part of the celebrations. The important vritham of Varalakshmi Pooja is performed this month. It is the first pooja in a long list of others celebrating Krishna, Ganesha, Navratri etc. that follow.

Aadi pirappu, the first day of the month is a big celebration in the south. The rivers begin to fill up and the 18th day of Aadi—called Aadi Perukku or the time of overflowing—is traditionally spent thanking the Cauvery for her bounty. Tuesdays, Aadi Amavasya and AadiPooram are high holy days. Aadi was considered an inauspicious month for newlyweds to be together to prevent conception as the child would be born nine months later, in the hottest time of April or May.

Many of the older generation strictly observe the rituals associated with Aadi Friday’s. Shantha Rajgopaul continues the tradition of lighting the rice flour lamps. “My mother-in-law was particular about performing this ritual”. The younger generation, like Sushma Nandagopal and her niece-in-law Sheila Vijay who are in the mid 30’s are pretty religious. They visit temples regularly, observe fasts but not specifically during the Aadi month.

Offering prayers and worship with a visit on the same day to three Shakthi Temples located around Chennai is considered very special in the month of Aadi. The shrines in all three temples are identical. The Full Moon day, and if it falls on Friday, is considered super special. Thiruvudai Amman Temple representing Ichaa Shakthi, who fulfils devotees wishes is located in Meloor and should be visited in the morning. The second one Vadivudai Amman representing Gnaana Sakthi, knowledge is at Tiruvotriyur and visited at noon. Kodiyidai Amman,Kriyaa Sakthi is at Thirumullaivoyil and helps devotees in all their actions and attempts is visited at 6 PM.

Vyasar  Pooja is performed to pay homage to the great saint, the codifier of all Veda shastras. After this many heads of religious Mutts will observe Chaturmasya Vrata, a four month penance from Ashad/AadiShravan/Ani, Bhadrapad/Purattasi and Ashwin/Aippasi. Sanyasins refrain from travelling during these four months of the rainy season as small creatures abound and may be accidentally killed.

Faith is an important aspect of the Hindu way of life. The month of Aadi is monsoon time. It focuses on spirituality and helps minds think of the Divine and to give thanksgiving to the rains and water that is vital to all living beings!

Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where Anu, Ashok, Conrad, DeliriousGaelikaa,  GrannymarMagpie11Paul, Maria the Silver Fox, Rummuser , Will Knott, Shackman and I write on the same topic. Please do visit the linked blogs to get  different flavours of the same topic.

About padmum

You could call me Dame Quixote! I tilt at windmills. I have an opinion on most matters. What I don't have, my husband Raju has in plenty. Writer and story teller, columnist and contributer of articles, blogs, poems, travelogues and essays to Chennai newspapers, national magazines and websites, I review and edit books for publishers and have specialized as a Culinary Editor and contributed content, edited and collaborated on Cookbooks. My other major interest used to be acting on Tamil and English stage, Indian cinema and TV. I am a wordsmith, a voracious reader, crossword buff and write about India's heritage, culture and traditions. I am interested in Vedanta nowadays. I am now an Armchair traveller/opinionator/busybody!
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3 Responses to Buy One, Take One Free

  1. Damn – now I feel guilty for being in the business – LOL. Clearly caveat emptor is the call of the day. Control your impulse to buy that item next to the register as it is after all a highly profitable item meant to separate you from your money. A major electronics chain here was once a grocery business. When you walk to their checkout lines you are snaked around seemingly limitless supplies of candy, chips, soda and gossipy reading materials. Another reason I am an online shopper. But for progress it seems we must all hail the gullible consumer. That’s what businesses say – and we know they never lie.


  2. Rummuser says:

    The plastic bucket ploy flopped for another reason as well. During the push for family planning, men who opted for vasectomies were given one plastic bucket free. That massive ad campaign was remembered and the offer turned into a joke.

    Your take is a nice blend of the modern and the traditional. Good combo! Two for the price for one!


  3. Grannymar says:

    Our sales times are just after Christmas and in the summer. It is a time to clear the old lines and leave space for the fresh designs & colours of the next season.


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