Consumer Reports magazine’s October 2010 cover story is about reducing your energy bills. There’s also a special section on cars, including electric vehicles and hybrids. But what really caught my attention was a feature story pitting store brands against national brands.
I used to be a devoted buyer of national brands. It was something I got from my grandmother who absolutely demanded national brands. No exceptions. Ever. Bring a store brand or even what she perceived to be an inferior national brand into the house and you would be sent back to the store to exchange it.
I lost much of my intense brand loyalty when I lived abroad. I didn’t know what was what, so I was more open to experimentation. OK, yes, I had my favorite brand/flavor of oatmeal shipped to me. And, yes, I asked any and everyone traveling to the UK to pick up a box of my favorite tea. OK, and I also had a thing for a certain brand of cereal bars.
But I did learn to loosen up. Really, I did.
Now, with so many of us pinching pennies and squeezing debit cards, store brands have become more popular than ever. The influx of trendy chains with their own labels has probably also helped remove the stigma and association with low quality that once plagued store brands.
In its October issue, Consumer Reports magazine presents a six-page story comparing a wide array of products. Even if you aren’t curious enough to read how the magazine went about the testing, the image-filled taste-test results are informative and easy to read. These are divided into store-brand winners, name-brand winners and a surprisingly large number of toss-ups.
Though this is a special story about buying store brands to save money, it should be noted that store or economy brands are frequently included in Consumer Reports’ product tests.