Name brands-vs-store brands and basics store brands

Should you go generic?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

I would say an emphatic yes to that, though I know that that might depend on the store.

If you are still embarrassed or worried about the quality of no-frills store brand products or generics and even store basics white label products instead of those with brand names, then face it; you really are in the minority now.

In fact, 55% of grocery shoppers say they frequently purchase store brands, and more than 77% say the store brands they buy “are as good as, if not better than, national brand products,” according to a survey commissioned by the Private Label Manufacturers Association, an organization that represents makers of store brand food, beverages, health and beauty aids and over-the-counter drugs. And in this economy, it is no surprise.

I have been buying the Sainsbury's Basics range for many years now for a great variety of products and have found this no-frills white label range of products as good if not even better than the brand name equivalents.

Let me give you an example: Sainsbury's does a Basics Chilli con Carne which is a little over half price of the nearest brand equivalent of a company called “Princes”. The latter lists “reshaped beef” as ingredient while the former, Sainsbury's own white label Basics lists “minced beef”. Now I can tell you why I have chose the Basics and that was not just for the price.

Reshaped beef is the stuff that is pressure blasted off the bones and such and then reformed into “chunks” of beef. Yuck. The Basics Chilli on the other hand has real beef in it. No contest, is it now.

Many of the national brands actually produce store brand products, so besides the packaging, you may not even notice a difference between generics and their brand name counterparts. For example, Alcoa (Stock Quote: AA), the maker of Reynolds Wrap Aluminum foil, produces store brand foil. McCormick produces herbs and spices without its signature label, and Birds Eye, known for its frozen vegetables, produces a number of frozen and canned vegetable products, according to Consumer Reports.

In addition to that and while they may claim that “we don't make *** for anyone else” they actually do do.

The same thing, is, for instance, true as to laptop batteries where the factories make, say, Toshiba batteries for half a day and the other half make the same batteries witho0ut the Toshiba name on them. The ones without the name, obviously, are cheaper. Amazing, eh?

One major reason for the deep discount on store brands is they that do not carry heavy product development, advertising and promotion costs. In fact very little advertising is done as regards to store brands and store's own while label goods, though Sainsbury's in the UK does use their Basics range in some of the recipe leaflets that they produce and make available for free.

By choosing store brand products and the Basic ranges – be selective though as some stores have better quality in those ranges than others – from retailers instead of buying name brands, you can save about 30% per week on the average shopping trip, compared with buying name brands. In some cases I would say that the savings can be even greater.

Let me make the Chili Con Carne comparison once again. The one from a name brand in stores of Sainsbury's is double that of the Basics label version and the Basics version is the better quality though.

Buying generic soda instead of Coca Cola or Pepsi can save you between 50% and 60%. So can health and beauty products like aspirin, nasal spray and lotion. Picking up generic cereal and ice cream could save you more than 30%. You can save about 23% on store brand frozen pizza and more than 25% on dog food by going generic, according to data from sources.

In most, if not all cases, store brands and basic white label brands can cut it well enough. After all porridge oats are porridge oats and the same applies for a number of other stuffs too.

If, on the other hand, you are particular about a certain composition of ingredients such as are found in certain name brand goods then there may be no substitute for it amongst store brands, generic, and basic labels.

However, as with Sainsbury's Basics in Britain, I have found that much of it is equal and even superior at times to the name brands but at far lower the price.

Let me give one more example from the store that is, I must say, my favorite one, Sainsbury's, in the UK and that is peanut butter. They do have a nice crunchy one that is of their Basics range and that, yet again, is nigh on half the price of the nearest name brand peanut butter, and once again I prefer the taste of the Basics range peanut butter to the name brand one.

I have but encountered a small amount of Basics label goods that I would not recommend and that are goods that contain, for instance, artificial sweeteners instead of sugars, such as sweet pickle, for instance. It has both Aspartame and Sodium Saccharine in it last time I checked. Well, sorry, but anything with those is a strict NO, NO for me.

So, always read the label, as they say with medicines, for instance.

Talking of medicines. Store brand Paracetamol, for instance, is probably 60% cheaper here than name brands of the same product. It is the same caplet of 300mg or 500mg. But while the store brand is something like 20cents the name brand would be about 80cents at least.

No contest there, yet again, I think.

© 2009