When it comes to household shopping, we all have go-to brands that we buy time and time again. We buy from these brands because we know them, we trust them, and so do our peers – it’s what’s known as brand loyalty, whether you’re doing it consciously because you prefer one brand to another or buy simply out of habit.
But, sticking with your trusty favourite brands could be costing you twice as much as if you shopped around and bought cheaper alternatives. Let’s take a look at five items you may want to consider swapping straight away:
Painkillers, cough medicine, lozenges and the like can help us fend off our ailments throughout the year, but branded products can cost as much as double the amount of non-branded ones. The Guardian says that this is because the pharmaceutical companies that produce them will have conducted the initial multi-million-pound drug research and trials essential for product safety. The more modestly priced generic medications are made by companies creating cheaper versions once the patents set by brand leaders have expired.
Rather than focusing on the brand name, try looking at the ingredients instead. You will often find that the ingredients of cheaper, non-brand medicines are identical to the big names. All medicine in the UK is regulated by the Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. This means they must comply with certain regulations before they can be sold. So, swapping your branded medicines for non-branded equivalents could be a nifty little money saver.
Another product that we trust more from expensive brands is sun cream. It’s really important to get a high-quality product with a suitable SPF rating when going out in the sun. Which? Recently conducted a series of tests on a range sunscreens and found that some of the biggest named brands, which were among the most expensive, did not pass their SPF test. In fact, one of their best buys was Aldi’s Lacura Suncare Moisturising Sun Spray SPF30 at only £2.79 per bottle. Which? said ‘Our new research suggests that even the cheapest sun cream can provide good protection, such as own-brand sunscreens which all offered the SPF claimed when tested’.
Choosing to buy a supermarket own-brand cereal over your usual brand could benefit not only your pocket but also your health. Some of the bigger brands have been found to contain almost twice the amount of salt and sugar than supermarket own-brands. In fact, a lot of the items, both branded and unbranded, we see on supermarket shelves are often made in the same factory, regardless of which store or company it is going to. And cereal is no exception.
Renowned money saving expert, Martin Lewis, says ‘many people tell us they worked in factories where they make both branded goods and supermarket brands, and the main difference is packaging. So taste with your mouth, not your eyes’.
Similarly to cereal, there are companies that make both cheap and expensive brands of makeup. For example, cosmetics company L’Oreal owns both affordable brands like NYX and Maybelline, but also brands considered more ‘premium’ such as Lancôme and Yves Saint Laurent Beaute. Though these products may contain different ingredients and each brand will have unique items, they are ultimately owned and made by the same company. If you tend to gravitate towards of the more expensive brands, it may be worth switching to another brand made by the same company. This list by Beautiful With Brains should help you choose.
A significant chunk of your shopping bill, when you consider how much you spend over a year, is cleaning products. If we’re prepared to swap our branded food and make up buys for cheaper alternatives, why shouldn’t this extend to household items, too? Journalist Harriet Arkell tested big brand names against supermarket own-brands and gave her verdict on a variety of different items. Of surface cleaning wipes, she said ‘Of all the wipes I tried, there wasn’t one I could find serious fault with, other than that most of them smelled a little too strongly of lemon bleach. A category in which the brand name ought to look to its laurels’.
At the end of the day, most cleaning products will have the same active ingredients, like bleach. Finding a cheaper non-brand cleaning product could end up saving you a fortune over time.