Forget Name Brands, Best Generic House Brands: Target vs. CVS vs. Safeway?

Forget Name Brands, Best Generic House Brands: Target vs. CVS vs. Safeway?

After reading this Daily, you should never, ever again look down on buying a generic product. Whether it’s generic peanut butter, chocolate chip cookies, soap, or ibuprofen, name brand products can be as much as double the price of their generic equivalents.

House Brand Products Are Often Identical to Name Brand Goods

Eugene Fram, emeritus professor of marketing at Rochester Institute of Technology’s College of Business, told us that the difference between house brand and name brand goods is that brand names spend more on marketing, not that they’re better quality: “I once visited a cranberry factory in New England, and I saw two lines of the same cranberry juice – one was for a national brand, and the other line was for a house brand.” Is that wrapper on your jar of peanut butter really worth an extra $2? We didn’t think so.

Among the House Brands, Which Are the Cheapest?

As a LearnVest experiment, we decided to go the extra mile and figure out which house brands are actually the cheapest. We compare five national chains, head-to-head.

We checked these prices onsite at stores in San Diego, California, and also rounded out some of the pennies—so the exact details may vary by location.

Check out our findings:


How Many Times Each Brand Was A Winner:

Wal-Mart: 21 (12 house brand)
Target: 16 (8 house brand)
Safeway: 4 (1 house brand)
Walgreens: 2 (1 house brand)
CVS: 0

Wal-Mart and Target Take the Cake

Although we’re not the biggest Wal-Mart fans, the simple truth is that its house brand has some of the best prices. Target comes in at a respectable second, and nearly ties with Wal-Mart on name brand products (the score was 9 to 8, although we want you to have a really good reason before buying name brand!).

There’s a Price to Convenience

We’re not saying that you should never shop at CVS again. After all, if that’s the store you’re closest to, the $2.50 difference on hand lotion might not be worth the price of gas. All the same, keep these lessons in mind for you next big shopping spree. And at least get a CVS rewards card to ease the sting.


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