Name brand vs. generic groceries: Which is better for your family?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Everyone wants to save a few dollars, especially when it comes to grocery shopping.

Using coupons can be overwhelming for some, but many find turning to store brands to be convenient and easy.

Jill Tullis is a mom of two small children. Like many shoppers, she is just trying to do what’s best for her family when bringing home groceries.

“We usually spend around $700 a month on groceries. I try to keep it in and around there,” said Tullis.

Tullis is not alone. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, an average family of four spends roughly $1,000 a month on groceries. That’s for those not cutting corners but also not splurging.

“My husband was raised almost exclusively on name brands and I was raised kind of the opposite. We bought a lot of bulk, a lot of store brands,” Tellis said.

Turning to store brands can help whittle down the ever-growing cost of food and household items.

For example, News 2 bought several products a family of four continuously puts in the shopping cart to see if switching to a store brand can make a difference.

MORE: 10 items to always buy generic

At Kroger, Fruit Loops were $3.69 while their store brand “Frosted Rings” were $1.99. That’s a savings of $1.70. If you go through a box a week, that can save you $88 a year.

There were similar savings for store brand peanut butter. Spices showed huge cost differences. McCormick basil was $4.19 and the store brand equivalent was $2.69.

Stores like Target and Walmart had savings on toilet tissue and trash bags, but interestingly, the prices were so close you can pick either store or name brand. The savings was only 20 to 25 cents.

Parents should pay attention to the item that had the biggest savings. Diapers by Target’s Up and Up were $17.99 compared to Pampers’ $24.99. That’s $7 in savings per box.

“For the shopper, you just have to ask, ‘What’s the risk? What’s the performance, and can you save some money?’” said Dr. Dan Flint, a marketing and supply chain professor at the University of Knoxville. “For toilet paper, if I am entertaining a lot and I have people there and guests, it might say something about me if I have really cheap toilet paper.”

Flint studies the business of store branding. He says making the big switch to a store brand isn’t always about taste or quality.

“You usually think of jewelry and clothing as saying something about you, but for a lot of people, what’s in their house says a lot about them.”

He says taking the risk of sampling store brands can often break some of the loyalty to paying more for a name brand item. The quality of store brands has vastly improved over the decades and stores are banking on you accepting their option.

It’s sometimes a hard step to take for shoppers like Tullis.

“Sometimes, I think it’s psychological. Probably the store brand will be the same or you know in some cases maybe I will stick with what i know,” she said.

Dr. Flint says one well kept industry secret is that a lot of store brands are made by the same big names we’ve come to trust but you will have a hard time finding a list of which companies make which store brands.

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