Store Brands Vs. Brand Names: Which Is Really Cheaper?

As you walk the aisles of a supermarket or drugstore, you’ll see a handful of different brands selling similar products. Whether you’re buying frozen vegetables, contact solution, or cleaning supplies, you’ll have the option to purchase your product from whichever brand you like best. Or maybe you’re looking to buy the least expensive option possible, in which case, you’ll want to consider the store brands versus brand names debate.

Savvy shoppers the world over have long insisted that buying store-brand goods instead of brand-name goods is an easy way to save money while changing next to nothing about your shopping list and habits. But which is actually cheaper? Read on to find out.

Are store-brand items always cheaper?

Common knowledge would suggest that the answer to this question is yes. Other investigations have shown that the answer is a bit more open-ended. Let’s say you’re choosing between a jar of peanut butter by your favorite name brand and a jar of store-brand peanut butter that you find less appealing. You might be considering spending the extra money for the brand-name peanut butter, but that might not be a concern – certain investigations have shown that the brand-name item can be cheaper.

That’s because supermarkets and drugstores sometimes run sales on name brands while they don’t do so on their own store-brand products. It’s also uncommon to see store-brand items in the coupon books that you might rifle through for deals at your local supermarkets. If you play your cards – or, more accurately, clip your coupons – right, it isn’t always true that store-brand is cheaper.

Why do brand-name items sometimes cost more?

In the event that brand-name items are more expensive, you might want to know why. Part of the higher price tag you sometimes see on brand-name items can be chalked up to the other expenses that the company incurs: the brand name itself, marketing, research and development, and more. 

Store brand items, on the other hand, do not have the value of the brand name attached. This could be because the product itself is generic, or in the case of medication, the patent may be expired so any pharmaceutical company can manufacture it. Thus, the store can simply slap their logo and a stock photo onto the packaging without thinking too much about the effect on shoppers – and with that comes decreased manufacturing and marketing costs.

Are there quality differences between store-brand and brand-name?

If quality is crucial for your enjoyment, you might be wondering whether the lower price tag you often see on store-brand items indicates a lessening in quality. Research using blind taste tests has shown that store-name foods can taste just as good as brand-name foods. For non-food items such as soap and medicine, you can safely assume no difference in quality if the ingredients on the store-brand box exactly match the ingredients on the brand-name box.

What items should I always buy store-brand?

Despite research showing that the distinction between store-brand and brand-name is smaller than you might think, you might be safer buying certain items store-brand. Paper goods are perhaps the best example, and your life experience probably proves it – certainly, you’ve bought store-brand paper towels only to be disappointed by how much less absorbent they are than the name brands. Experts recommend sticking to name brands for electronics and baby care products too, as a similar decline in quality is often seen with these items too.

Do you buy store-brand or brand-name, and why? Sound off in the comments!

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