Are Store Brands As Good As Name Brands?

Some people will only buy name brands while others believe most store brands are just as good.  My mother-in-law, for example, was extremely brand loyal and she insisted that generic store brands were of inferior quality.

This brand loyalty became difficult for me when I began to do her grocery shopping for her and she asked for items that I’m sure had been discontinued ten or more years ago.  Has anyone seen Aylmer’s Baked Beans lately?

I, on the other hand, am more price conscious and at one time the cupboards and fridge in my kitchen contained so many yellow label items – everything from dried pasta and tomato sauce to cream cheese and oatmeal – that I had to make sure and read the label before opening cans and packages.

Store Brands vs. Name Brand Products

There are some brand name items that I prefer the quality of – I always buy Heinz Ketchup and Campbell’s soups – and if the price difference is only a few cents I will tend to buy the name brand, but for the most part I don’t find much (if any) difference in generic and store brands.

I’ve done a lot of experimenting and I have found my favourite generics.  For example I prefer many of Safeway’s Lucerne brands to Harmony from Co-op.  But when it comes to taste it’s basically what you get used to or what is familiar.

When shopping at Costco I find Kirkland brand products are usually good quality and I buy most of my paper and cleaning products there.  Their vitamins and over the counter medications contain exactly the same ingredients as name brand products at less than half the price.  This savings alone makes up for the annual membership fee.

I’ve always heard that a lot of generics are really brand names without the brand label.  I don’t know if that is true but I have noticed that grocery stores have vastly improved their own branded items.

Do you buy store brands or generic versions?  Do you buy them because they are cheaper?

Have you found any store brand items that are actually better than the pricier name brand version?


11 Responses to Are Store Brands As Good As Name Brands?

  1. We almost always buy store branded items. I haven’t noticed a difference in quality. I occasionally see name brand items like cereal or beans for cheaper when you look at the cost per weight, but it’s not common.

    We buy generic brands because they are cheaper and we consider generic and name brands to be pretty indistinguishable except for coffee beans.

  2. We like a lot of the President Choice products but I find the No Compliments products low grade.

    As for Kirkland, don’t go for their dog food. Yes, it is dirt cheap but you need to feed your dog 2-3x as much of it, and the ingredients are chalk full of items the “experts” tell us to avoid. We started our Newf on the stuff and she never had solid stool – and she had to go 3-4 times a day. We’ve since switched her to a quality food. She needs much less of it to get her nutrients and she does her “business” 1-2 times per day.

    I analyzed the REAL costs of quality vs cheap dog foods here: http://sustainablepersonalfinance.com/yourdogs-diet-could-cost-you-and-your-dog/

    • @Sustainable PF: I have three cats and they won’t eat Kirkland food or use their litter so there’s something in what you say. It’s better to pay a little more for better quality.

    • @krantcents: For some reason I find other ketchups too watery. I can always tell when a restaurant pours another brand into their ketchup bottles.

  3. Here’s what’s funny — when a brand name goes on sale to below the no name price and the no name product also goes on sale (for all of 3 cents or so below its own regular price) so that it’s still a penny or two under the brand name — I tend to buy the brand name. But it makes me wonder, if I really do believe the no name is just as good, why don’t I keep buying it, even if the saving is really minimal?

    One answer is that it gives me a way to keep comparing, to find out whether the brand name really is better. I don’t have overly developed taste buds and am not particularly finicky so it’s rare I’ll notice the difference. So I do tend to head toward the no name whenever I can. I do enjoy certain brands of toilet paper and laundry detergent, though, and will try to get those brands on sale rather than buy no name.

  4. @Dee: I also tend to buy the name brand if it’s only a few cents higher or on sale. I honestly can’t think of any store brands that I buy that are actually better than name brand so I guess I’m really buying them for the lower price if the quality is acceptable.

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