Growing up in a lower middle class family meant that we often fought over generic brands vs brand names at the grocery store. However, when money was tight we often relied on generic brands to help make ends meet. In an effort to stop my brother and me from complaining, my parents always reminded us to check the labels and compare the ingredients. Although we rarely believed them, the truth was there were often very few differences between certain items. As we grew older, I became more aware that our preference for brand names was usually an ingrained response to targeted advertising.
Like my family, many people usually had a difficult time tasting the difference if they did not see the packaging. In fact, a Nielsen survey reported that 72% of shoppers feel there has been a significant increase in the quality of private brands and generic products. With so many high-quality generic brands available, it may be time to give them a try. Now more than ever, it is important to find ways to save money in these lean times.
Generic Brands vs Brand Names
Designated as a national brand equivalent for Wal-Mart, many consumers claim that Great Value is just as good, if not better than its brand name competitors. Their line of food products has been extensively developed to include everything from bakery items, canned goods, and frozen dinners.
While some of these may not test as well against national brands, Great Value is an excellent option for staple items. Products that contain only a single ingredient are literally identical when compared side by side, except in price. When purchasing baking items such as flour, salt, sugar, cooking oil, baking soda, baking powder, and vinegar, there are no identifying differences. Their brand of milk is even processed at the exact same dairy as higher-priced brands like Darigold. When comparing the dollar and cents on these basic necessities, why would you want to pay more for the name brand?
Equate is another competitively priced generic brand at Wal-Mart. However, they focus specifically on pharmacy items, over-the-counter medications, and health and beauty products. Since the FDA regulations for these products are universal, you are literally paying more just for the label. Next time you need pain relievers, antacids, allergy pills, or antibacterial ointments, look for the generic brand vs brand names to save you a bundle. Other items like lotions, face washes, and sunscreen are much more reasonably priced than their name brand counterparts.
Market Pantry is another discount brand that has become a household name. Bringing in more than $1 billion each year for Target, it has a become a cornerstone for this national retailer.
Although many will disagree about the overall quality of their generic brands vs brand names, certain items have withstood public criticism. For example, their frosted shredded wheat cereal, graham crackers, and other grain products are often indistinguishable from the brand names. Additionally, many consumers agree their condiments like ketchup, mayonnaise, and salad dressings perform well against national brands in head to head taste tests.
Another national brand equivalent from Target that stacks up well against the competition is Up&Up. In particular, their plastic products have proven more durable than other generic brands. While other off-brand plastic wrap, sandwich bags, and trash bags fall apart, their merchandise can get the job done. This is especially important when it comes to keeping your food fresh and handling those dirty jobs. When it comes to plastic products, you definitely want to make sure that they can perform well.
Costco’s Kirkland brand is another generic brand that has become synonymous with quality. While many of their products could be included in this list, I am focusing on their cleaning products. In particular, their laundry soaps and detergents are some of the best generic brands available. Unlike the watery consistency of other brand names, Kirkland guarantees that your laundry will come out fresh and spotless.
Reasons to Choose Generic Brands Over Brand Names
While there are certain brand names you will always remain loyal to, generic brands are a great way to stretch your grocery budget without sacrificing your diet and family’s health. Since generic brands are usually 20-25% less than the name brand counterparts, it can save you thousands of dollars every year. The reason these brands are cheaper is not due to less quality. Rather, it is because there are no developing costs, trials for new recipes, or studies and focus groups. Store brands just put a new label on products that have already been created.
They also spend less in advertising costs because they do not need to make each product a household name. Instead, they focus their marketing strategies to promote the store over individual products. In fact, Consumer Reports reveal that 22% of shoppers choose where to shop based on the quality of their private brands. With several quality house brands to choose from nowadays, there is no reason to only buy brand names.
The Stigma of Buying Generic Brands
Most consumers view generic brands as inferior because they were lower quality. This is largely due to the 1980s marketing strategies when current adults were growing up. They often associate poor quality to these memories and therefore avoid buying generic brands.
However, times have changed and it is definitely worth giving them a try. This is especially true if they provide significant savings. Who knows, you may be pleasantly surprised by some of the store brands’ products. You can still cut coupons to save on your favorite brand name items. But, this costs more time than the money you save. And let’s be honestly, your time is more valuable than saving a few bucks.
Having cheaper store brands as an alternative option puts more pressure on brand names to keep their prices competitive. So, next time you go grocery shopping, why not try some products from the generic brands to save yourself some time and money?