Save a $100,000 with a Do It Yourself Taste Test
At Wise Bread we've written numerous times about the cost savings of buying store brand items instead of national brands. We've even discussed the fact that in Consumer Reports and on other surveys store brands often outperform national brands.
Yet, we (as a society) continue to spend billions of dollars on brand name items when the generic brand may be produced by the same company. According to Consumer Reports (via Mainstreet) this includes the makers of Reynolds Wrap, McCormick Spices, and Birds Eye Veggies.
So, if we know the cost savings is guaranteed and others tell us the the store brand may be just as good, why do we still buy the national brand?
Well, I buy the national brand when I think it tastes (or works) better.
For items like milk, pasta, sugar, peanut butter, flour — pretty much any staple or baking product — I always buy the generic brand. Why? Because I bake or add these items to something else and don't notice the difference.
But, what about cereal, soda, or ice cream? I, along with many others, tend to buy the national brand because I think it tastes better. In fact, these are items that I can save even more on — from 30-60% by purchasing the store brand. (See also: How to Grocery Shop for Five on $100 a Week)
We're not talking about a few cents either. Using the generic store brand calculator I ran some calculations. If an average family of four who currently spends $75 a week on groceries (the national average) switched to store brands on half of their grocery items, they would save over $100,000 over the course of a lifetime. (If they invested the savings at a 5% rate of return.) And that doesn't even include non grocery items like toilet paper, lotion, over the counter drugs, etc.
So, how do you actually save this much money?
I recommend conducting your own blind taste test for items that you currently think taste better.
Personally, I refuse to buy generic brand Coco Puffs (my guilty pleasure). So, today when I went to Target, I purchased two boxes of chocolate cereal: one box of Coco Puffs for $2.54 and one box of Coco Comets for $1.75.
We conducted a blind taste test in our house. In the end, I preferred (just slightly) the Coco Puffs due to their taste and texture. But my spouse preferred the Coco Comets.
While the generic brand didn't win, had this been a frequently purchased item, I might have been willing to sacrifice my very slight preference for cost savings. Since I only buy this cereal a few times a year, I would rather indulge.
Performing a do it yourself blind taste test is an excellent way to see if those national brands you think taste better, actually taste better.
I think next on my list may be ice cream for a blind taste test.
What national brand items do you think taste better? (And have you ever actually compared?)