I was thinking about different blog topics today and decided to start lunch while doing so. When I’m just feeding myself I usually go with something simple and comforting. Nothing says that like a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. I looked at the box and thought for a moment. While it is hardly gourmet cuisine I, nevertheless, always by Kraft. I ate the off brands (especially in college) and they were just not the same. Then I started to think about it. There are some products where the name on them means nothing to me. Other times I am convinced a certain brand is better. My wife will even point out that certain products are nearly identical but my mind is made up. Take some examples of products I am indifferent to the brand I am buying: eggs, aspirin (or Tylenol type product), gasoline, motor oil, bread, milk, vitamins, mustard, ketchup, meat from the counter, fruit, canned vegetables, paper towels, computer paper, dental floss, pumpkin pie, cheese, wallets (not purses ladies, men’s wallets), trash pick-up (yes I have to pay to have my trash picked up), light bulbs, orange juice, pasta, sandwich bags, brake pads, ranch dressing and so on. Now consider the items that I will stick with one brand on and at worst wait for it to go on sale: obviously Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Oreos (there is no substitute), Nike shoes, certain lunch meats, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, Michelin Tires (to be fair I would also consider Goodyear if they made the right one for my car), Prego pasta sauce, Tostito’s Salsa, Doritos, Stouffer’s lasagna, Yoplait yogurt, Country Crock margarine, Diet Pepsi (I was raised on it and I am hopelessly hooked), Lays potato chips, Tostitos tortilla chips (Pepsico must love me), Calvin Klein Obsession for Men, Gillette shaving cream, Russell Stover chocolates, HP printers (you can always find ink), Sonicare toothbrushes (no cavities since I started using it 5 years ago) Quilted Northern toilet paper and La-Z-Boy rocker recliners (always had one, always will). Are these products better than their competitors’ offerings? Were the previous items of which I had no brand loyalty really negligible in their difference from other choices? Sometimes I really do not think there is a difference. They may be made in the same plant under the same guidelines and simply packaged differently. If you believe that then there is no reason to pay extra for a name. Mind you, it still baffles me that a manufacturer would make two identical products and sell one for less. Still, it does happen. Medications are a perfect example of it. Other times people are convinced that say the Vicks brand sleep medicine works better than the store brand. For that person I am sure it does. It could be they are right and there is a subtle difference. It could also be the placebo effect. In the end, it’s about getting a good night’s sleep. If a person believes a product will do that for them and it does, who am I to argue? Other times there is a clear difference in the name brand. Perhaps they use better ingredients or have higher quality standards. Maybe they simply have a recipe that no one else can duplicate exactly (Oreos) and the best a competitor can do is imitate it. With name brands there is usually a trust factor. The product has either worked well for you or someone who recommended it and you seek that same level of performance. Let me ask you this; how many times did you stray from the brand you were loyal to for any given reason and found yourself dissatisfied with the results? Maybe you tried the cheap ice cream and didn’t like it. Perhaps you bought the inexpensive tires and they didn’t last. Maybe you bought the store brand pop on sale and it tasted like battery acid. Whether real or imaginary, we each have our own list of items we hold brandless and others we buy because of brand and we stand by those beliefs. It is a shopping religion of things you believe in and things you don’t.
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