Growing up, we always had the off-brand everything. From cereal to pasta, shampoo to razors, we never bought any of the name brand items. It was normal for me and shaped my buying habits as I started to earn my own money.
I started to realize the impact of name brands when I went to college. Would you believe there were students that actually bought name brand things? “They’re wasting their money” I’d think to myself. All this changed when I started dating one of the ‘name brand shoppers’ – I eventually married her. Shopping at the grocery store was certainly interesting for a while, but I eventually learned a thing or two about brand name items – and so did she.
Off Brands: Real Brands In Disguise?
Some off brands are actually manufactured in the same facilities as the brand name goods. This is true for cereals, pastas, and other goods you can find in your grocery store. If you check the back label, most items have the exact same ingredients – but this won’t change the fact that many people claim a taste difference.
For some items, I agree that the taste just isn’t the same. Nothing can beat a real OREO (or can it?), but when you’re feeding four year olds, does name brand really matter? I know there are other examples, and would love to hear them in the comments!
Real Brands – Coupon Potential
Recently, my wife has been clipping coupons from the Sunday papers and has saved quite a bit of money on name brand items like deodorant, toothpaste, and shampoo. In fact, each time we use the coupons, it brings the price well below the generic brand (sometimes the items are even free!). This is because of manufacturers coupons – the off brands don’t have coupons in the paper, so we get quite the deal with name brand items. For those wanting more information on savings tips, Peter just wrote an article about finding the best prices using Google.
Making The Compromise
We had to learn to compromise about buying branded goods and non-branded goods, especially for items that we share. Unless we’re using a coupon and driving the price below the off-brand alternative, we try to stick with off-brands for pastas, cereals, crackers, and bread. There are certain things that my wife won’t budge on for brands – peanut butter, tomato sauce, and toothpaste are good examples. The good part is that most of these things have been discounted lately with her new couponing efforts, so it’s actually beneficial financially to go name brand.
What about you? Do you have certain brands that you could never ditch? Or, have you found alternatives that are ‘just as good’ as the name brands? Share in the comments – I’d like to find out for our next shopping trip!