Generic vs. Name Brand – What Will You Pay More For?


13065042035_4ca6f93236_zBuying generic food and household products is just one way to save money at the grocery store. But unfortunately, there are plenty of people out there who won?t buy generic for various reasons, one of which is their perceived difference in quality.

Marketing companies spend millions of dollars each year trying to convince consumers that certain brands of products are better than others and that generic products are of inferior quality. It may surprise you to learn that generic products are usually very similar quality-wise to name brand products, but for a much lower price.

In the past, this wasn?t true and many consumers still hold on-to the notion that generic products are inferior because they were when they first introduced in the 1970s.

There are still some items I buy name brand, but for the most part, I?m a fan of buying generic products to save money. Here are some?generic things I will and won?t buy.

Things I Will Buy Generic

Most boxed generic foods are just as high quality as name brand boxed foods, so I generally buy generic for pantry staples: baking mixes, flour, sugar, dried beans, canned fruits and vegetables, bottled water, pasta sauce, nut butter, and bread. My parents always bought these things name brand when I was a kid, but now that I?ve compared prices I can see how much money they were wasting by buying name brand, plus I can?t tell a difference between name brand and generic on these products.

There are also some household items I?m not afraid to buy generic, like q-tips, napkins, pain reliever, facial tissue, some electronic products, shampoo, and hand sanitizer.

Things I Won?t Buy Generic

As much as I like to buy generic products to save money?on my household and grocery bills, there are a few things I?ve tried generic and was disappointed by because of quality or taste.

At the grocery store, I buy these name brand products: meat, cheese, other dairy products, coffee, creamer, salad, salad dressing, cereal, and breakfast pastries.

Likewise, there are a few generic household products I?ve tried and was disappointed in too. Therefore, I buy these things name brand: paper towels, toilet paper, dish soap, cosmetics, some medicines, and batteries.

I can?t imagine how much money a large household could save every year by switching out some of their name brand purchases for generics, but I know in my one-person household I save at least $20-40 each month by making these small substitutions.

Of course, not every generic brand or product is a winner. So before you buy a large quantity of generic products, you should try them out in a smaller quantity first. Just because your friends, neighbors, or a review says a generic product is good doesn?t necessarily mean it will work for you.

Before you put name brand products in your shopping cart next time, you should at least consider the financial ramifications of buying name brand vs. buying generic products.


What’s your view on buying generic products? What items are you willing to pay more for in order to get better value? What are some other ways you save money at the grocery store?



Photo courtesy of: U.S. Department of Agriculture

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  1. Michelle says:

    We buy many generic products but also many branded products. If I know it won’t be much different but something is a lot cheaper, I will go with the cheaper option.

  2. I used to always buy brand name and I joked that I was a marketer’s dream. Two years ago I started changing my spending habits and with that, I kicked the brands to the curb. I can’t really think of anything I buy now that has to be brand name.

    • Kayla says:

      I don’t buy many brand names and when I do, I’m still not very brand loyal. I use whichever one is the cheapest, on sale, or that I have a coupon for.

  3. I’m wary of generic foods. I’m not talking about flour, but other stuff. I’ve found that Safeway frozen foods are actually pretty tasty. Kroger fig newtons are pretty close to the real things. Kroger chips tend to be a little saltier than other brands, but I just make do. And we always buy Fry’s milk. Everything else is on a real case-by-case basis.

    I’m fine with most generic brands of medicine. I tend to air on the side of caution with cold meds for some reason. I’m trying to get over that mental block, since you can see the exact same ingredients are used. But it’s a work in progress.

    • Kayla says:

      My dad is like this Abigail. He won’t buy generic medicines because he thinks the name brand works better. He buys name brand for 2x the price and I buy generic and I seem to be sick less often, so there’s that, haha. 🙂

  4. I buy lots of generic items, but I always check the prices for that particular week, because sometimes the brand names are on sale or have a coupon that reduces the unit price lower than the generics. That being said, the generic or store brand item is usually the best buy and I am always willing to try it out.

    • Kayla says:

      Hey Gary, you are right. Sometimes with sales and coupons name brand food is cheaper than generic. It’s always good to consider your options before you decide which way to go – generic or name brand.

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