Is It Always Best to Buy Off-Brand Items?

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We’ve all heard before that buying an off-brand, whether it’s a store brand or a generic medication, can help save money. Some people choose not to buy store brand items because they feel that the taste or quality isn’t the same as the name brand, but most off-brands and generics have the exact same ingredients, or at least close to the same. People used to assume that a higher price meant a better product, but this belief isn’t as prevalent anymore. Store brands often cost 25 to 30 percent less than name brand equivalents, which is an added benefit for customers.

It’s true that buying generic or off-brand items saves money, but is this always the case? Actually, no. Usually purchasing store brand or lesser known brands saves big money, but there are also some cases when specific sales or coupons make it possible to purchase the name brand for less. Sometimes it’s better to buy the name brand for quality reasons as well.

Some grocery stores have specific coupons for their store brand items, but most coupons are for name brand items. If you are able to purchase a name brand product with a coupon, particularly during a big sale when the item is already on sale, you might be able to actually save money by buying the name brand item. Some people also just feel more comfortable with name brand recognition.

For example, many people choose to purchase name brand batteries because of the belief that they last longer. One study found that cheaper dollar store batteries don’t last as long, but you spend less money, so there isn’t a big overall difference. In addition, customers often buy name brand milk. However, a lot of this just depends on your own comfort level. Purchasing the store brand versions of these items will definitely save you money, but paying a little more for name brand milk or meat might give you piece of mind.

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Electronics are one item that you probably want to go ahead and purchase a well-known brand. Electronics tend to be expensive, so it is tempting to buy a model made by a lesser-known brand, but you might be sacrificing quality to save a little money. In addition, more popular brands often have better warranties. If you purchase a tablet at half the regular cost with no warranty, you will be completely out of luck, and down money, if it breaks in a month.

Shoes are another item that you should probably splurge for a well-known brand. Shoes wear out easily, and that means that many people like to purchase off-brand shoes. This might be fine if you wear the shoes only once in a while. However, your feet need good support and a correct fit, and if you buy poorly made shoes or shoes that don’t support you well, you could have a big problem later.

Medications are also tricky. While most prescription generic items are fine, and probably a good way to save money, be careful when purchasing over the counter medications. Make sure you at least compare a lesser known brand to a well-known brand. Even if they have the same ingredients, the percentages might not be the same. Check vitamin percentages carefully.

Many items are fine to purchase generic. Store brands of cereal and granola bars, for example, usually have almost the exact same ingredients as the name brand versions. These cereals often cost a full dollar or more less than the name-brand versions, so it makes sense to buy the store brand. Most packaged items can be purchased off-brand without losing quality. The same is true of a lot of frozen food.

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Many household items can also be just as effective if you purchase an off-brand. Store brand cleaning supplies are often as powerful as brand name products, but cost a lot less. The same is true of paper towels, and store brand toilet paper is improving.

Makeup is one item that can be extremely expensive if you purchase the top brands. Luckily, many generic beauty products, including makeup, are just as good as the name brand products. Self-tanners, body wash, shampoo, skin cleanser, lotions, and more can be bought for pretty cheap if you look around.

We know that buying generic or store brand items saves money, and usually, the quality is comparable to brand name items. Yet, many of us are so used to purchasing name brand items that we do it anyway, even when the off-brand could work just as well and save us money. Make it your goal to purchase five store brand items this week (start with breakfast and snacks, if you want) and watch the savings add up.