Why I Don’t Buy Generic

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by on June 9, 2009

grocery basket I’d like to extinguish the myth that generic is always cheaper.

No, I don’t buy generic. No, I’m not a name brand snob. Yes, I save more money.

Yet, had you asked me this a year ago, I would have told you that all I bought was generic since I was trying to find the best deal. Store brands are always cheaper than the manufacturer brands, right?

I saw a segment on the news segment a few weeks back on how to save money at the grocery store and it really irritated me because the consensus at the end was that generic store brands will save you more money, so shoppers should stay away from high priced name brands. I’ve also heard this countless times from well meaning shoppers. Case in point, my experience several months ago:

About 6 months ago, when I was a coupon newbie, I was stocking up on a great Cheerios deal at Fry’s, when a fellow shopper tried convincing me to buy the store brand. The conversation went something like this:

Shopper: Wow, that is a lot of boxes of Cheerios, you know the store brand is a better deal.

Me: Actually, I have coupons for each of these, so I’ll save more.

Shopper: Oh well, I never buy name brand name because generic is just as good and always cheaper.

Since I was new to using coupons, I didn’t push the subject farther, but the truth is that I paid less than $1 for those boxes of cereal, while the store brand was on sale for $1.99. I wonder what that fellow shopper would think if she ran into me at the store now, with my large coupon organizer?  I wouldn’t be shy to talk more about coupons, how they help save my over 65% at the grocery store each month, or how she could visit my blog to learn more!

Another example of actually getting FREE name brand products was when Fry’s was running a triple coupons promotion not long ago. Dial soap was on sale for $.99, the normal Kroger price. I had a $.35/1 coupon, which was tripled, so that dial soap was FREE! There are many more examples, especially if I talk about saving at CVS, but I think I’ll stop for now.

Since watching deals, using coupons, and stocking up on good deals (of items that we need), I have spent less on our groceries, while buying name brand products. Of course I realize that sometimes generic is cheaper and I do buy it in those cases, but I really just wanted to point out that generic is not always the best option.

What are your thoughts? Do you only buy generic or store brands? Or do you only buy name brand? Which saves you more?


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  • Susie

    On some items I buy generic, but normally I like the quaility of some name brand and do not have to use as much as I do when I use generic. I prefer brand name toilet paper, ( because my husband only likes Scott and the king should be happy in that area) Usually in paper towels (Scott) but will sway if free or good deal. Now on dish detergent I want a name brand like Dawn or some type I can use less, the generic takes more and bubble leave sooner, usually they do not remove grease as well for me? Soap usually have to use Dove because of skin allergies. I had rather save on generic in areas of life that are as important to me. My husband said there is a different in generic cookies, crackers, especially Ritz. I am flexible there.

  • I am with you. You will find very little generic in my house as that is not is what is the cheapest with the coupons and sales being run! I love Life cereal. So last week when I saw it on sale for $1.49 plus I had coupon at Safeway. I bought 15 boxes. May sound crazy but that stuff doesn’t spoil and since Life is normally almost $5 a box. Wow what a savings!

    Abby’s last blog post..Bob the Builder Teamwork

  • I’d agree that generics are not always cheaper. Although I do find that sometimes I can still buy the generics for less than the sale price of a brand name even with a coupon. Most generics are just as good as the name brands, in fact many of the generics and name brands are made in the same factory. They just put a different label on it.

    I shop at Aldi’s to stock up on the basics, especially those things that seldom go on sale and I have a coupon for… like flour, sugar, instant oatmeal packets, bread, milk, etc. They mostly have generic products and they are really good. I don’t buy generics for hba products because I can usually get the name brands for cheap or even free.

    Lisette’s last blog post..Trying to cut back

  • I agree. I used to buy some generic items, but not only are they not always the cheapest, they aren’t always the best value. I have found that products can be of thinner consistency, causing the use of more product. I have found that I just get better performance from name brand products – especially true I have found with shampoo / conditioner.

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  • Skye

    I am a name brand snob! lol
    Always have been! But with 5 kids (2 my own, plus custody of my 3 nephews) I had to learn to buy cheaper! And that by NO means buying generic! It just means using coupons, and when something is at a rock bottom price, as long as it is storable, buying TONS!!

  • The key is combining a coupon with a sale. Like right now at Kroger you can get Kraft cheese for .67 a pack, with a coupon/sale. This is significantly cheaper than the Kroger brand at 1.99. However, without the coupon or sale, the generic is cheaper. If you are buying from a set list and not stocking up with sales/coupons to maximize your savings. Generics probably is a cheaper option for you. Not everyone waits for a sale to combine the coupon, which is why for them generic would be cheaper.
    I love getting brand name products for cheap!

    Amanda’s last blog post..Dog Treat Deal

  • Thanks for all your thoughts everyone, and the great examples, Abby and Amanda!

    Skye, I think that it is fine to be a brand snob when you know your budget and what you can afford. Sounds like you have found the trick to using coupons to get your products and not compromise on what you want!

    This is getting me thinking about the new Frugal Series that I started last week. If you haven’t checked it out yet, head over and let me know what you think.

  • zoe

    Sadly in the UK coupons are just not a big thing and are usually not combinable with other offers! So the rule you don’t like usually works, BUT not always! And I make sure to check, like you!

    zoe’s last blog post..Save Money on Hair Cuts

  • there are some things i still buy generic/store brand like medications i need and don’t have coupons for, milk, and flour

    Carrie’s last blog post..Oven Cleaning Before and After

  • I think you basically have to know your prices, and what works for you. Cheaper isn’t better if it’s cr*p (I’m thinking cheap plastic wrap or foil–yuck), but sometimes you can’t tell the difference. I’ll always opt for a brand name with a coupon, because often the quality is better.
    Too bad you didn’t run into that lady more recently–you sure could have taught her a thing or two!

    mom2fur’s last blog post..We should all get along like this!

  • I think you basically have to know your prices, and what works for you. Cheaper isn’t better if it’s cr*p (I’m thinking cheap plastic wrap or foil–yuck), but sometimes you can’t tell the difference. I’ll always opt for a brand name with a coupon, because often the quality is better.
    Too bad you didn’t run into that lady more recently–you sure could have taught her a thing or two!

    mom2fur’s last blog post..We should all get along like this!

  • I go back and forth. I am not HUGE on name brands but there are some items that I have tried generic on and they just aren’t as good…IE Coffee Creamer, Listerine generic, shampoo generic. Those I have found to be less of a product. I am not huge with coupons, but I totally see your point that if you can save more by using coupons and buying the name brand then more power to ya!

    Jen-After the Alter’s last blog post..Works For Me Wednesday: Chore Chart

  • I agree. We use a lot of generic OTC medications; even with coupons and sales, the store brands are almost always less expensive. For foods, we buy either brand names or store brands, depending on the sale prices.

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  • AB

    I only buy generic when I need the item immedietely, and the name brand is more expensive at that point in time. Usually for stuff that I do not use often as I won’t have a stockpile.

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