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Brand Name vs. No-name Brand: A Price Comparison

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I like Yoplait yogurt. I really like Yoplait yogurt, actually. In fact, no other yogurt will do. Dannon? Sorry, not for me. Generic brands? Not a chance. As I was scarfing down a Yoplait Strawberry Kiwi yogurt (easily the best flavor), I wondered how much my commitment to Yoplait is costing me.

After examining my yogurt-buying habits within the grocery budget, I wondered how much money I was saving with generic choices and how much more money I was spending each month on the popular branded item. This led me to conduct a brief experiment on a typical week of groceries for my wife and I. I scanned 16 food items at my local Wal*Mart store. For each item, I priced the cheapest option along with the choice I felt was most popular. I made sure the item was the exact same quantity, so as to truly compare apples to apples…err…applesauce to applesauce. Here’s a look at my results.

Item Popular Option Cheapest Option Difference
Box of waffles 2.38 2.00 .38
Block of cheese 2.67 2.52 .15
Jar of applesauce 3.42 1.98 1.44
4 yogurts 2.36 1.76 .60
Bag of chicken nuggets 10.47 8.74 1.73
Pack of Brats 4.24 2.96 1.28
Can of Baked Beans 1.97 1.42 .55
12 pack of cola 4.38 2.68 1.70
Cream of Potato Soup 1.58 0.98 .60
5 lb Bag of Flour 2.48 1.58 .90
Box of Cheerios 3.52 2.93 .59
Frozen Pizza 3.77 2.77 1.00
Peanut Butter 3.98 3.32 .66
Gallon of Milk 3.37 2.19 1.18
Orange Juice 3.67 2.18 1.49
Spaghetti Sauce 1.98 1.50 .48
Total $56.24 $41.51 $14.73

I was surprised at how quickly the savings added up. Choosing the cheapest option resulted in over 25% savings! For my wife and I (no kids), there would be about a $60 difference between choosing generic brand and named brands each month.

This is a classic case of small choices having a fairly significant impact over time. Take the cream of potato soup item for example. I’d save 60 cents per week by choosing the off-brand can. Four times per month (assuming I buy a different style of soup with the same price difference) I’d reap a 60 cent benefit for a whopping total of $2.40 per month. This equates to $28.80 per year, and $144 over a 5 year period. If I make the same choice on 10 different food items, that’s $1440 dollars I save over the 5 year span. It made me think!

It was helpful for me to go through each item and put real dollars and cents to the decisions. Waffles? I’m fine with the cheap box. I don’t think I can tell a difference in brands anyways. Yogurt? Don’t you dare try to sneak an off-brand into my fridge! For my thrifty friend, no-name brands are just fine except for ketchup.

How about you? What items for you or your family does brand matter? How much taste or quality are you willing to sacrifice for a few dollars or cents each time you buy it?

Read how Matthew saves his family money by using Ting Mobile for cell phone use.

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  • Take Advantage of Money Savings by Using the Cub Rewards “Load to Card” Feature
  • Cost Comparisons: Online Grocery Delivery vs. Your Neighborhood Grocery Store
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