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Store brands versus name brands: When to go generic

Posted: 1:00 PM, Sep 14, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-14 18:00:54Z

More and more items on the grocery shelves are now house brands, such as Target's Archer Farms, Costco's Kirkland or Walmart's Great Value.

One store – Aldi — sells almost only house brands.

As a result, more and more shoppers are saving money with cheaper house brands. But is it always a smarter move to go generic?

Mom of two Becky Erb thinks so. She says she is buying more and more store brands these days for her two young children.

"I love Pat and Jack clothing," she said, "which is Target's brand."

Whether it's kids clothes, bath supplies or food, Erb says she likes many Target items.

Store brands have come a long way since the generic barcoded products of the 1970'.

A Nielsen survey found 70 percent of shoppers say store brands have greatly improved. Reanne Young agrees.

"They have gotten a lot better," she said. "I think the store brands have really invested a lot more in getting better."

House brands are typically 15 percent cheaper, according to Consumer Reports magazine.

When to buy store brands

Blind tests by Consumer Reports magazine and, more recently, the Krazy Coupon Lady found several top quality store brands products, such as:

• Cheese
 • Frozen vegetables
• Ketchup
• Sandwich bags
• Sunscreen, where Walmart Equate was top rated by Consumer Reports

Surveys show that store brands are making a lot in inroads, especially when it comes to shaving, toothbrushes, and a lot of food.

There are still a few exceptions though.

When to stick with name brands

The taste surveys found name brands still have an edge when it comes to:

  • Breakfast cereal
  • Coffee
  • Cookies (especially Oreos)
  • Shampoo
  • Skin care products

Except for those items, however, some moms like Angie Watson could be switching allegiances.

Does she feel the store brands are as good as the name brands?  

"I do, I think so," she said.

Bottom line: The shopper is the ultimate winner when it comes to private label brands because they keep costs down for all of us.

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