Gather round, children, while I tell you one of adulthood’s greatest secrets. It is a pearl of wisdom that can only be gained by leaving the nest, spreading your wings, and comparison shopping. Retailers don’t want you to know it, advertising agencies spend bajillions trying to keep you from learning it. You can live your whole life in ignorance of this simple fact if you don’t spend a little extra effort to look around yourself and pay attention at the goddamn grocery store.
Are you ready? Of course you are, you badass paragon of frugality and virtue.
You don’t have to buy name brand products. Most of the time the generic or store brand is the exact same thing for less money.
Armed with this knowledge, you are ready to embark on a spiritual and financial journey of fiduciary gratification the likes of which the world has never known. You will suddenly discover whole dollars in your grocery budget you never even knew existed. Let the scales fall from your eyes, dear readers, for truly name brand products are beneath you.
It’s all the same shit
“Whoa, slow your roll, Piggy!” you exclaim with great skepticism. “Surely if a thing costs more, it must be better!” Not so, you precious and spectacular land mermaid.
While it may be true in some cases that certain name brand products contain superior ingredients to their store brand counterparts, studies have shown time and time again that where most products are concerned, the store brand contains the exact same ingredients at the exact same volume as the name brand alternative. Sometimes they’re even made by the same manufacturer in the same factory and everything. The only difference is the packaging. And yet name brands can cost on average up to 30% more than generic or store brands.
Allow me to provide you with real-life evidence that I collected from my very own neighborhood grocery store.
Two bottles of ketchup, both alike in dignity, in a Kroger supermarket where we lay our scene: name brand Heinz ketchup, and store brand Kroger ketchup.
You will note that the volume is the same, but the price is almost a dollar higher for name brand. Try the same comparison with peanut butter, shredded cheese, laundry detergent, paper products, and on and on. Same story.
The difference is even more staggering for pharmaceuticals. Compare the name brand Sudafed and the Kroger brand of the same drug in this picture I took at the grocery store today:
You will notice that the name brand is a whopping $10.49 while the store brand is on sale for $1.59. Not only that, but the name brand only contains 10 pills while the store brand contains 24. The active ingredient, Pseudoephedrine Hydrochloride, is the same. They are the exact same fucking drug.
So I ask you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury: why would anyone spend more money for less medicine just because the word “Sudafed” is on the box instead of “Kroger Nasal Decongestant”?
You’re paying extra for advertising and other dumb shit
So why the difference in price? The sad truth of it is that name brands have more advertising expenses, more research and development expenses, and they have to compensate for a variable and unpredictable national market. Whereas store brands and generic basically don’t do any advertising, they can benefit from the research after the patent runs out, and they can depend on the small-scale supply and demand trends of individual stores. All of which is to say: they pass the savings directly on to you.
We’ve already shown above that the lower price of generics and store brands do not necessarily indicate inferior quality or even different ingredients. So that brings us back to the “Why?” With this powerful knowledge in hand, why would anyone keep paying more money for the same product when they can get it for less at their neighborhood grocery store?
And yet research shows that Americans waste around $44 billion a year on name brands. That’s $44 billion that could be saved by buying generic! That’s the fucking GDP of motherfucking Serbia! That’s almost as much as the Zuckerbergs donated to charity last year!
You could use that money for the forces of good. Or evil. It’s your call, really. The point is that you could use it.
It all adds up
Look, we all know you’re a brilliant budgetary badass. You have financial goals that are so much more important than keeping Nabisco in business. You work hard for your money and you deserve to keep it and use it for whatever noble purpose you see fit. Wasting a portion of your carefully planned grocery budget on name brand food, pharmaceuticals, and personal hygiene products every week is simply unacceptable. That kind of waste is beneath you, you glorious goddess of wealth and practicality. Beneath you, I say!
Lest you dismiss the evidence by thinking a few dollars and cents here and there won’t make a difference, I challenge you to do some serious comparison shopping. Get mathy with it at your local grocery store. Add up the difference between the generic and name brand prices on 10 different products you buy regularly.
When I did this experiment recently I ended up with a difference of $19.37. That’s $19.37 on food, medicine, cleaning products, and personal hygiene products—almost a full Tubman!
You are too good at this game to bother paying for store brands. You have more important shit to spend your money on. You are smarter than advertisers expect you to be. You are more than capable of spending a few extra minutes at the grocery store to compare ingredients and prices, and by Grabthar’s Hammer you owe it to your goddamn financial goals to do so.