Are You Paying Extra for the Brand?

by Jessica Sommerfield · 0 comments

When was the last time you purchased a particular cosmetic or brand of over the counter drug just because of the name brand? Is your favorite brand of coffee based solely on taste and quality or is it more based on appeal and popularity? We are a culture that is much too obsessed with appearance, and way too easy to brainwash with advertising. You don’t have to go far to see this trait — probably not much farther than your own spending. Consider these following categories and whether you might be paying for the name rather than the product.

Over-the-Counter Drugs
Generic drugs often carry the stigma of being somehow more diluted or not as effective as name-brand drugs. Yet, considering that most generics have essentially the same list and percentages of active ingredients as name brands, there’s no actual proof that’s true. And there shouldn’t be, because all generics have to be approved by the Food & Drug Administration for safety and potency just as name brands do. Considering that many drugs are marked up over 1,000 percent, drug  companies are making a fortune. Much of this money goes right back into advertising so you’ll keep buying the name brand and overlook the equally effective but under-advertised generic.

The next time you’re at the store and reach for the Advil or Tylenol, take a second to compare them to their generic equivalent. Test them out and see if there’s any difference in their effectiveness. If you’re just as happy with the generic, you can sometimes save $3-4 per purchase. If, on the other hand, you have good reasons for brand loyalty, look for coupons and sales ads and stock up when you can get a good deal.

Prescription Drugs
The same applies to prescription drugs. The next time your doctor wants to prescribe a name-brand drug, ask if you can get the generic. In most situations, your doctor will have no problem with it. Considering that many pharmacies only charge $4-$5 for certain generic drugs, you could be saving several hundred dollars, especially if your insurance doesn’t cover prescriptions.

Cosmetic companies hire celebrities and models to advertise their products because they know we’ll be more likely to buy them. That’s why we can get suckered into buying a tiny container of basically clay (dirt), wax, dye and perfume for double digit prices.  Brand loyalty is easy to fall into, and sometimes we have legitimate reasons for liking particular brands. But be careful how far your brand loyalty goes.  If you’re willing to try out cheaper brands in order to find items you likely just as well as their expensive counterparts, you could be saving hundreds of dollars a year just on your cosmetics.

Groceries and Consumables
This is a large category.  Food companies feature large markups on their products, and not necessarily because their product is any better. In consumer surveys, the majority of generic brand foods and household products taste just as good and work just as well as name brands. It’s okay to be a name brand snob as long as it’s for a good reason — know why you’re buying what you buy. You may just prefer a name brand product’s smell, texture, or aftertaste, and that’s fine. Try to buy more expensive brands you enjoy but don’t need as a special treat when  they’re on sale and use coupons to save even more.  Sometimes using sales ads and coupons can allow you to buy name brands for the same price as you would the generic.

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