a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Buyer be Wiser: A Brand Name is. . . What?

FACT: A name brand label does not automatically mean the product is superior.

What a brand name does is indicate the company has a large and successful advertising budget ! In the area of wearing apparel, quality of style, fabric and construction can only be so good. No matter how much our fashion-aware kids disagree, I contend that after a certain point you are only paying for the designer name, succumbing to the company’s seductive advertising. And, to further prove how clever marketing is, they put their names in huge letters on their clothes and then charge us outrageous prices to wear this advertising! And incredibly -----we do it !!

When brand-name consciousness started to infiltrate our kid’ s attitudes we made them a deal. If we had planned on buying them each three pair of Sear’s "tough-skins" (guaranteed to be replaced with a brand new pair if they wore out the knees before they outgrew them !) at $6.00 per pair we would give them each $18 and they could buy whatever pants they wanted—and make up the difference from their own funds.

In the grocery department, before making a purchase, it is wise to consider how you intend to use the product. Peach slices used to decorate the top of an elegant dessert probably need to be uniform in size and blemish free. A peach cobbler does not suffer, in any way, from using irregular pieces of fruit.

Many grocery store dollars can be saved 1) by taking time to comparison shop, and then 2) taking the risk of purchasing a lesser known brand. If your experiences with "off" brands are anything like mine, you will more-often-than-not be pleasantly surprised. Quality continues to increase right along with the quantity of choices. There are still a small number of items where I feel the brand name is superior but that list keeps getting shorter and shorter.

If you ever have occasion to talk with an employee of a food processing company, they will tell you it is not uncommon for an identical item to be packaged under a variety of labelsOccasionally they even produce a one-time-only brand for a canned fruit or vegetable that is surplus, irregular size or shape, or slightly overripe. These cans are considerably cheaper. I recommend you buy one can and try it immediately. (Well, you can wait until you get home ! Although I do know one frugal shopper who carries a can opener and a spoon in her car at all times. I am not making this up---and surprisingly, it is not me !)

If you like the product, return to the store and buy more, as much as you can use, because it is possible you many not see that label again.

In the past it was easy to identify the cannery if you took the time to read the label’s fine print. We must have been sharper than companies expected because now, on most labels, only the distributor is listed. Still it is often worth your time to check out the details. I recently happened on a bargain cart full of an unknown brand of black refried beans at 25 cents a can. I bought four and tried one as soon as I got home. They were delicious but when I got back to the store there was one can left. I bought it!

Many, if not most, warehouse-style, off-brand or store-brand products are every bit as good or effective as their more expensive counterparts. Can brand name ($4.99) white sugar really be different than store brand ($2.99) white sugar? How much can simple salt differ between brands? Or same type fancy salts for that matter? If you look carefully you can even find off-brand breads, that are hearty and don’t "smoosh" in your hand, at less than the going rates.

Recently I happened to be occupying the same grocery aisle as the manager and a man he was talking with. I heard the manager say that, time and time again, when leading a customer to a product, he has disclosed this very thing and invariably, the customer will then select the brand name item, even when it costs 25 or 50 percent more than its shelf-neighbor. Whoa! That's the power of advertising!

Lastly, did you know that companies pay big bucks to have their products placed conveniently at eye-level? And who has those big bucks? Think of the added benefit (exercise) you get bending and stretching for the lesser-knowns.

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