Generic Versus Name Brand: When to Buy Each
Monday, February 20th, 2012
I had a lengthy discussion with another mom yesterday during Girl Scouts. As the girls used fondant to make a variety of heart shapes, she and I discussed the pros and cons of buying generic versus name brand items.
Because I’ve followed a plan for the past five or so years of stockpiling to get to the next sales cycle, using coupons and shopping when prices hit their lowest, I rarely buy generics. It has nothing to do with taste or preference. If you want to save money and you decide to coupon, you can’t be brand specific (or, I should say, you can’t if you want to see the lowest savings possible), so you have to be okay with switching up the taste of a product.
I will buy any type of most items, like bread and ice cream. I like all natural peanut butter, and because it is rarely on sale, I generally pay full price for this. I’m okay with this, because it is a product I want and prefer, even though I know I could get it cheaper if I went with the regular variety. In most cases though, I don’t care which brand of dish detergent, laundry detergent, toilet paper, or toothpaste I use. I will buy any brand as long as the product is on sale and I have a coupon to go along with it.
This mom buys generics most of the time. Her reasoning: they are cheaper than name brands. She says generics save her money and, in some cases, this is true. Go to the store and compare the cost of a store brand product to that of its name brand counterpart and, most likely, the generic is a bit cheaper.
But as I explained to her, this is only the case when someone shops on a week-to-week, "must have" basis, rather than on a week-to-week, "buy at lowest price and use coupons."
If you follow a couponing program that combines rock bottom prices, coupons, and stockpiling to get through the sales cycle, you will pay less for name brand products than you do for generics.
Let’s look at a specific example.
Generic peanut butter is $2.99; the name brand is $3.29. If I walk into the store and buy one because I have to have it now, and I want the cheapest, I’ll save $.30 on the generic.
However, someone who uses coupons and shops sales will only buy peanut butter when it is at its lowest price and they have a coupon. So, the name brand goes on sale for $2.50 and you have a fifty cent coupon that doubles. You pay $1.50 for the peanut butter versus the $2.99 you would have paid purchasing generic, which is a savings of $1.49.
This is why, in most cases, buying brand names saves shoppers money over buying generics.
Generics are good if:
· you don’t shop sales
· you don’t use coupons
· you don’t stockpile.
Otherwise, generics are generally a more expensive way to shop.
At this point, I only buy generics if I have forgotten to stockpile enough of a specific product that I need before the name brand goes on sale again.
What do you do: shop name brands with coupons, or generics?