By Holland Cooke
Sir Thomas Malory was writing back in the 1400s, long before brands emerged and took over everyone’s consciousness. But he was onto something with his “enough is as good as a feast” quote. It was true then and is still true today.
Having worked 50+ years in advertiser-supported media, I’m all about the value of a brand. I don’t know when I will next need to buy a tire. Nails await. But I already know where I’ll buy that tire, because they advertise in Red Sox games. That company owns “tires” in my brain.
But what do you buy more often than tires? Consider three examples (click the “+” to open):
A year ago, I bought the Starbucks beans. Now I buy the less expensive Stop & Shop store brand, and – who knew? – I like it better.
At participating Cumberland Farms convenience stores, any size coffee is $1. “At participating McDonalds,” 99 cents.
To spark creativity, feed your brain material like you’re cramming for a tough test. When I say “Francis Ford Coppola,” you think “The Godfather,” right?
Tried his wines? Around here $12 or $13, often less on end caps.
Despite millions Absolut has spent on advertising, I avoid it in restaurants. That’s just me. To my well-trained palette, it has a metallic aftertaste that I could pick-out in a blind test. Everyone else’s vodka tastes the same. It’s merely…vodka. They all begin in an ethanol plant.
Flavors aside, the difference between brands is how many times it was distilled, and how fancy the bottle is…and those Belvedere and Chopin and Grey Goose bottles sure are works of art. But browse the vodka aisle (and end caps) and you’ll see unfamiliar brands distilled 5, 6, 7 times.
They get the job done nicely. And I say so after a rigorous series of tests.
Private Label, Store Brand
And speaking of spirits: Do you like Bacardi rum? Buy less expensive Castillo. Same company, different bottle.
A private label brand, also known as a “store brand,” is simply a product manufactured by one company and sold under another company’s brand.
Trader Joe’s orders most of its products from third-party manufacturers (including giants like PepsiCo. and Snyder’s-Lance), which agree to sell some of their items under the Trader Joe’s label.
Many of these brands sell the same or similar products under their own names for a higher price. The catch is that Trader Joe’s and its suppliers all but swear to keep the agreement secret.
When temptation strikes and you want to reach for the high-priced spread, remember:
- Brands pay for eye-level placement, end caps, etc.
- Stores exploit their home court advantage by displaying house brands side-by-side with products that cost more because they advertise.
- Browse over-the-counter pills – ibuprofen, allergy meds, sleep aids, whatever – at CVS. The packaging looks quite similar to side-by-side “name” brands, and invites you to “Compare to…” [the pricier brand]. Read the fine print on both boxes: same ingredients.
- Same conveyor belt? Their lips are sealed.
That’s it for now. Watch for more inflation fighting tips in this space. For a complete do-it-yourself online tutorial, check out our course at the CECNA Learning Center. And you can read more from Holland Cooke here.