Home / Fall 2013 / Let the consumer decide

Let the consumer decide

Written by: Taylor Stone 

We are living in increasingly troubling economic times. Consequently, for the majority of Americans, saving money has become a crucial necessity in ensuring the normality of every day life.

As the prices of everyday essentials such as toilet paper and milk continue to rise, we’re met with the less expensive choice of “generic” brands. Of course, as with anything else, when an item is more economical than the competition, it raises the question of quality. Do name brands really mean better quality or are you simply paying more for the label?

The assumption that a nationally recognized brand name means higher quality than their generic complements is quickly fading. According to TIME magazine, brand names just don’t mean as much anymore.

The Recession combined with the continuing devaluation of the American dollar has brought with it vast opportunities for stores to cash in on the eagerness of consumers to cut corners where possible to save a few dollars. Enter generic “no name” store brands.

Many stores have introduced private-label goods sold exclusively at their particular locations essentially mimicking the brand names – everything from toothpaste to ketchup. These new brands include Equate, sold exclusively at Wal-Mart and Archer Farms, sold only at Target locations.

According to results from blind taste tests engineered by TIME magazine, the majority of consumers have been impressed by the generic store brands. The magazine has also “clued in” consumers to the fact that the same companies produce many of the generic products offered as the name brand version. The label might look different, but the ingredients section won’t, because a large portion of generic products are made up of the same ingredients as their more expensive counterparts.

One of the biggest revelations from a “Private Label” report from the Integer Group is that there are very few people that simply assume that a brand name means top quality with 64% of consumers agreeing that brand names do not mean better quality.

The same study also concluded that coupons and sales help boost the sales of name brands with 45% of consumers claiming that they can purchase the name brand for the same price as the generic brand if found while on sale or with a coupon.

The difference between generic and private-label brands lies in the free market – it’s Capitalism at work. It’s natural for manufactures to offer similar products, competitively priced and to let the consumer decide.

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