January 31, 2022

Melissa and I went to the market Friday to pick up several items.  Even though we make a list, we still cross paths with those “must have” items.  While we gathered our purchase, I could not help noticing the empty shelf space.  I could tell by the price labeling many of these spaces had held less expensive store brands.  It is well known that store brands (and especially groceries) are made by many of the same manufacturers as name brands.  Usually, the only difference is the packaging and the price.  Since I buy store brands, I assume these products sold out quicker due to cost.  The manufacturer filled their own orders, and there may not have been enough product to produce the store brands.  Regardless, this left a lot of open shelves.

When I looked online, I found many name-brand manufacturers also make store brands for retailers.  These often sit side by side on the shelf with the store brands but at a lower price.  Quite often what you are paying for with the brands is marketing and packaging.  Another marketing tactic is generic brands (often market goods) which are distinguished by the absence of any brand name.  These products are identified by the product characteristics (i.e., “Beets”) and are usually in black-and-white packaging.  These are also often made by manufactures of the name brands and imitate the brands but at a lower price.  While generic brands may be produced by the same manufacturer, they are thought of as lower quality by consumers.  If I buy them, the quality varies depending on the product. 

One of the store brands Melissa prefers is sweetener.  This was on our list, but after we got home, we had not purchased the item.  I went to the store the next day to buy sweetener.  I did not find the sweetener she wanted, but who can tell the difference, right?  I also purchased my flavored water.  The flavor I wanted was not available and I tentatively bought another.  I try to not use plastic bags and instead have reusable cloth bags.  During the pandemic our store has not allowed outside bags, so I leave them in my car and bag my purchases outside.  When I got outside, I realized I had not paid for the water.  I took the water back in and ran it through the register.  This time I ran the item twice without noticing until after I paid.  I went to customer service, and they refunded the money.  Shopping should not be this difficult.

Thoughts:  As you may assume, when it comes to sweetener, Melissa can tell the difference.  It was not because the brands were different, but due to the main ingredient.  I went back again, but this time to a closer market of the same chain to return the item.  When I went to the sweetener aisle, the only sweetener in stock was a name brand.  I had checked two different markets and not found what I was looking for.  I was done shopping and spent the extra $2 to purchase the name brand.  Marketing and packaging are the biggest difference between most brands offered at the market.  Marketing has also been the difference for whether to believe information concerning the pandemic.  Perhaps we should examine the facts rather than marketing.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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