Store Brands Over Company Brands?

Consumer Reports Article
This Consumer Reports article talks about the option of sometimes purchasing store brand products over big name or name brands. Often, the taste and quality are quite similar with the potential to save consumers money.

Have you ever consider choosing store brands over company brands?
MY INPUT According to the Consumer Reports article, if you’re flexible and have no problem buying store brands, you can save about $1,500 per year. For those who haven’t yet gone generic or haven’t purchased store brands, it’s something you could acquire with a little practice.

From my experience, beginning to choose store brands will save you money over time — maybe more than actually using coupons. I know some shoppers feel very strongly about using coupons although I’ve never seen a great valuable proposition using coupons. It can be time consuming hunting and gathering them and you have to worry about the expiration date. I have also seen the majority of the coupons only apply to brand names and these usually cost more. Yes, you might have a coupon where you save 75 cents but the product is 20% more than a store brand so what to choose? Another option if you have the chance is integrate coupon use with purchasing store brands to save as much money as possible.

Unpeel the Onion...

Super Target is unique as they provide two distinct store brands: Archer Farms and Market Pantry. Market Pantry has generally less expensive items and it’s less sophisticated. Archer Farms is Target’s premium store brand, is more expensive, and has slightly better quality overall. It appears Target is trying to add some exclusivity to the Archer Farms brand — to provide shoppers with a more expensive and sophisticated alternative even if it’s still a store brand.

It really depends on what you want. If you’re comfortable with your brand mentality, keep doing what you’re doing. Just know you may be spending 30% more than store brands. Much of the additional cost is going to advertising and brand marketing. Is that money well spent? If you can shake the “branding” and you’re flexible, choosing an alternative with similar quality can save significant dollars.

Recently, I priced Oreo Cookies at Target for $2.99 and the Market Pantry label was $1.67. In this situation, you could save about 44% by choosing Market Pantry Oreo Cookies. With a similar taste, that’s an easy decision especially when you have hungry children who love sweets. In another example, you could save about $1.00 by choosing Archer Farms chips over Tostitos with a savings of 28%. Not all comparisons work out that way. Market Pantry Granola is $1.97 and Quaker Granola is 7 cents more. That’s more of an exception rather than the rule but it’s something to keep in mind. Just because the item is a store brand doesn’t mean you’ll see significant savings. Be alert, ask questions of associates, and don’t be afraid to think in the store.

Flexibility is often the key when it comes to saving money. Often, brand name items are on sale and could be comparably priced to store brands. This scenario might nudge me a little more toward the brand name temporarily. When brand names are on sale, it provides consumers with more options. The opposite occurs too. Store brands on sale usually makes the purchase a “slam dunk”. If you can save an additional 10 to 15% on top of the pricing differential, it’s easy to choose the store brand.

Costco has a store brand which is called Kirkland which I really discovered that by accident years ago. One by one, I tried various Kirkland products. I originally tried the paper towels and those were about 20% less than Bounty with roughly the same quality so that was an easy decision and I slowly moved to other household products before trying food under the Kirkland label. It wasn’t one particular Kirkland item that won me over. It was merely that most Kirkland products are a good value at very attractive prices. The more I tried, the more I became sold on the Kirkland brand and at some point, I never looked back. Now at Costco, I buy Kirkland cheese, almonds, vitamins, soymilk, frozen organic broccoli and pizza. I’ve purchased so many Kirkland brands that overall it’s the best value I’ve found at Costco.

A good value?

A good value?

Every so often, I’m not concerned about the price where I choose name brands. There are times that I’m shopping for guests or someone else where they request specific brands. In these scenarios, I certainly choose the brand names. These may be exceptions rather than the rule but the option is available to sometimes choose name brands.

Every so often, you try a store brand that doesn’t taste good or a product of inferior quality. That’s bound to happen, as you try different brands and products trying to save money. Mind you, this is an exception rather than the rule. Remember, there are a few products you’ll vow not to use by the majority of store brands or alternatives will provide the relative same value while providing significant savings.

It’s all about value. In other words, I am not necessarily caught up in the advertising or propaganda I’ve heard about brand names. It’s receiving good quality at the lowest possible price. If that means it’s generic or a store brand, I’m fine with it. In my mind, value trumps product image.

Kevin Schwarm

I have over 25 years of professional experience in business, information technology (IT), and customer service. Industry experience in retail, medical insurance, higher education, non-profit, financial services, and property and casualty insurance. Customer focused professional interested in providing value (save time, money and aggravation) by evaluating and analyzing information, services and products with a unique perspective.

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