Should You Go Generic?: Supermarket Savvy
When I was a child in the 1970s, I was enthralled by the appearance of generics in my grocery store. The white boxes with their big black lettering were appealing to me. A new reader, I was happy that I could easily identify each item, and I loved the idea of buying products in matching packaging. The boxes’ contents, though, were so inferior and suspect that my mom never purchased them, despite their low prices.
Today’s generics are a different story. First of all, many items packaged under a generic or house brand are actually made by a name-brand company. Name-brand companies typically won’t disclose this (since they want you to keep paying more for the fancier version), but if you compare the ingredients and see that they are identical … chances are the product will taste just as good and be of similar quality. Second, even generics that aren’t made by a name-brand company are of better quality than their predecessors. A prime example of this is the Aldi food chain. As the New York Times reported, Aldi carries only a tiny amount of name-brand items. The majority of their products are their own, private-label generics, but they’re cleverly packaged to closely replicate whatever name brand the product is imitating, and for the most part, they’re good.
Overall, the savvy shopper can still beat generic prices by combining name-brand sales and coupons. But when that is not a possibility, a good strategy is to take a chance on generics. Buy just one can or package of a particular generic item and see how you like it. If it turns out that you just have to have name brands on certain items, then you can focus your attention to look for those particular items on sale and snap them up!
Shop smart and save! Check out more tips on couponing and savvy shopping: