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Dutchess_III's avatar

Do you find that many times the bargain brands are better than the name brands?

Asked by Dutchess_III (36040points) February 11th, 2014

I always buy the DG $1.00 dish soap for the dish washer at the Dollar General. One day Rick came home with a couple bottles of Cascade, having been convinced by commercials that it was superior soap. It isn’t. It leaves a film behind that the cheap stuff never did. The dishes don’t seem very clean.

Also, we buy those cheap, $.50 chicken pot pies. I usually just eat the crust and the gravy and give the rest to the dogs. Well, Rick came home with the more expensive Marie Callender brand. I don’t like them as well even though the chicken chunks were quite a bit bigger. But, as I said, I never eat that part.

I get a lot of compliments on my hair, and people ask what kind of shampoo I use. “The cheapest they have,” is my answer.

So is everything basically the same, except for advertising?

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49 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Yes and no. Many shampoos are similar, yet some good ones are distinctive enough to treat your hair better. My hair is peculiar enough that it does not look healthy unless I use one of a few shampoos.

Same with pot pies. Marie Calendar pot pies are too doughy, the cheap ones often don’t have crust on the bottom. The M. Calendar ones at least have good size chunks of meat. By far the best (IMHO) are Swanson’s, but not he Hungry Man, the regular ones for good crust to filling ratio.

I am particular about what chemicals I’ll expose myself and the family to, so I am picky about detergents and soap, and often pay a little more for a healthier brand. And I found buying quality clothes is important, because the clothes last a lot longer.

So no, not everything is the same.

jca's avatar

@Dutchess_III: In two of the three examples you cite, the results are a matter of your opinion. Yes with dishwasher detergent, the results are black and white but in the pot pie example, you say that there’s more meat in the expensive brand, so that’s what people pay for. The fact that you like the cheap one more is your opinion. The hair example, if you don’t use better shampoo there’s nothing to compare it to. I know I will often buy cheap shampoo, but I have bought great shampoo from the hairdresser and I can tell you now, that the cheap shampoo is more watery in comparison. So obviously the expensive shampoo is concentrated and able to be watered down (although professionals scoff at the notion of watering down shampoo).

When it comes to clothes, better brands will have more darts, double seams, other things that cost more in labor. I buy cheap clothes, too, but if I look at a cheap Walmart jacket and a good quality, Calvin Klein jacket or something like that, the construction and the appearance don’t compare. If you ever look at a man in a suit, a cheap crap suit and an expensive suit, or cheap dress shoes and expensive shoes just don’t compare. People think they look ok in cheap clothes, but for the most part, they don’t. I am not saying pay full price, because what you spend does not equate to what you get. We’re talking about brands and quality, not the cost.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

I agree, I don’t know if better, but on par I would say for sure , at a fraction of the price.

Cruiser's avatar

I find the cheap brands vary by grocery chain/store. I am in the business of private labeling our products and almost always we put the same quality product in their container or under their label and a savvy consumer can usually tell a quality no name brand product. But again there are very often noticeable differences in quality that often take away the bargain element away. Crap is not a bargain if it tastes or works like crap.

I agree and find bargain soaps, shampoos and detergents to be on par or better than expensive National brands.

JLeslie's avatar

It varies a lot. I use Herbal Essence Shampoo it is fairly inexpensive and I life it better than many very expensive brands. I have tried Suave, which is even less expensive and I think it is awful. I have never found cheap hair mouse I like. Very expensive Lancome Mascara is better than any other mascara I have ever tried. I used to like Giant brand English muffins (store brand) better than Thomas’. I have tried a lot of Kroger (grocery store) brand items and many of them are subpar. It’s a fact that some store brands are using the piece the brand throws back. Like frozen or canned green beans, the store brand might have more ends and imperfect looking pieces. Some stores maintainnthe same high quality as the brand name.

I am very brand loyal to multiple things. Mayo, soda, nail polish, chicken, mustard, and many others. I’m always willing to give a store brand a try though. Some cereal I buy store brand, but some really are not as good as the brand.

Bargain brands aren’t exactly the same as store brands. I do buy bargain brand laundry detergent. I have used Extra liquid detergent and a couple of other brands that I was happy with. My husband lives Tide, but it is so expensive! I just bought Fab powder to try it, and I don’t really like it. I don’t think I have ever bought a cheaper brand of dishwasher soap, maybe I will try it.

I think we should do a Q where people can recommend the private label or inexpensive brands that they like best.

Seek's avatar

I’m very often complimented on my hair colour. Either people don’t believe I’m not actually a redhead or if I’ve told them it’s fake, are fascinated at how unprocessed it looks. “You must pay a fortune!”

100g of henna: $2.99
1 bottle of lemon juice: $2.50.
1 pair of rubber gloves – 5 pairs for $1.00

I prefer our local Publix brand for most things, except Pop Tarts. Those are gross.

There are only a few things where I’m really brand-loyal. I use Lysol Power toilet cleaner – the blue bottle. It gets the rust stains out of my shower better than anything else I’ve tried. If I could afford to, I’d be brand-loyal to Tide, because it’s the shit. As it is, I slum it with Wisk or Arm and Hammer, which is the best I can do affordably. Dish soap – I use Dawn Platinum. I have hard water and it just works better. My favourite all-purpose cleaner and degreaser (and laundry spot treatment) is sold at the Dollar Tree. It’s called “LA’s Totally Awesome”. That stuff will peel nicotine right off the walls, and motor oil out of your clothing.

Dutchess_III's avatar

The only differences in food really are the canned vegetables. There is a definite difference is quality between Del Monty and the knock off brands. Del Monty is much better.

ibstubro's avatar

I think at times the off brand has the option of being bolder and you remember the times you liked the boldness, not the times you didn’t.

I’m convinced that the L.A. Awesome brand of cleaning supplies are superior to any on the market. Dollar Tree, Dollar General and Family Dollar.

Aldi’s whipped salad dressing beats the socks off of Miracle Whip. Tangier zip.

The Dollar Tree’s creamy petroleum jelly does not compare to Vaseline’s. Spotty quality control. However, I still use it because it’s so much cheaper I could afford to throw some Dollar Tree stuff away, and still be money ahead.

That’s my biggest complaint with off brands…the quality is not consistent. Some people just stick with the white-bread name brand because they are pretty much assured of what they are getting. Similar to my McDonald’s vs Kathy’s Korner Kitchen debate.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I couldn’t say – I’m guilty of just going right for the name brand, unless it’s pasta (I see no difference between brand name and generic pastas, but the price difference isn’t usually that great either). We shop at Wal-Mart for groceries (though I’d much rather spend the extra money at Publix if it means I don’t want to commit heinous, violent crimes while I’m shopping) and I haven’t had much luck with the Great Value brand. I don’t buy their steaks either. Oh yeah, you can’t tell the difference between a Wal-Mart steak and one you get at a fancy steakhouse. Uh, yes you can! I find their steaks fatty and nasty. I’m sure Publix brands are much better. We don’t buy much at the dollar store, but I haven’t been brave enough to try their generic brand of anything.

I am always on the hunt for inexpensive, quality cosmetics, though. Not “generic,” but not high-end. I buy quite a few products from E.L.F that are between $1 and $5 and are just as good or better than the high-end makeup brands like MAC, where you’ll spend $18 on a lipstick. My primers (face and eyelid) are both drugstore products, as are my mascaras and moisturizer. I’m very picky about what I’m putting on my face – it needs to look good and jive well with my skin – but if I can accomplish that without spending a fortune, that’s great.

filmfann's avatar

I am glad you are having luck with the more inexpensive items.
However, I usually find I get what I pay for.

Pachy's avatar

Yes, increasingly so, though I unapologetically admit to still being a name brand snob.

JLeslie's avatar

I was just thinking about clothing. Cheap clothing generally is lower quality. The really high end designer stuff is way overpriced, but the quality is beautiful. There is a lot in-between really cheap junk and very expensive designer brands. I often complain that the moderate stuff we used to be able to buy is really hard to find now. It’s hard to find reasonable quality, reasonably priced clothing. For kids I say go cheap because they grow out of everything. You can tell the difference from t-shirts to suits the price and quality are quite different a lot of the time, you just have to decide if paying for the quality is necessary or wth it depending on what you are buying. If you have never had or soent time around designer goods you likely don’t know the difference, but once you wear that stuff or really spend time looking at it, I think anyone can tell the difference.

Dutchess_III's avatar

For sure on the clothing. I get all of my clothes at Goodwill. Believe it or not, the clothes there are of a higher quality or they’d never make it that far.
Clothes from Walmart last about a week.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@Dutchess_III Well, yeah. Clothes at Goodwill are quite varied. You could find well-made, high-end clothing there if you look hard enough – it’s just used. Same with places like TJ Maxx, Ross, or Plato’s Closet (for younger folks). Wal-Mart clothing is cheap and always has been. I’ve never seen an attractive item of clothing being sold at Wal-Mart – not for women, anyway. Josh gets all of his jeans from there, and they seem to last just fine. He wears them until they’re falling apart anyway. You won’t find anything purchased at Wal-Mart on my side of the closet, though.

Personally, I don’t have the patience for places like Goodwill. Going through all those racks of randomly placed clothing, trying to find something that’s not too offensive. No thanks. I did manage to find a lot of nice clothes for work at TJ Maxx and saved a lot of money. That’s the only time I’ve ever had luck there, though.

jca's avatar

I agree with @livelaughlove21 about going through racks of gross clothes at a place like Goodwill. No thank you.

What you all will find helps your clothes last longer is to try not to put them in the dryer. I will dry jeans and I’ll dry the clothes I sleep in, and socks, but my shirts and underwear will not usually be put into the dryer. Dryers really wear clothes out. They bake them and clothes that are dried in a dryer don’t last as long.

ibstubro's avatar

Buying name brand for cheap is the best revenge.

I got over my aversion to shopping Goodwill’s ‘randomly placed clothing’ by adding other guys to my shopping list. I now have 5 options for any jeans sized 32×34 and I watch for 36×34. The more you increase your chance for a ‘score’ the more interesting the shopping.

Target is donating all unsold clothing to Goodwill. This week I bought a new pair of boots to $9.

I shop clearanced food a lot to. There is a woman with a boyfriend and 2 kids on my way home. I’ll buy a gallon of cole slaw (cold slop) for $1 because it’s near expiration, stop and give her half. She doesn’t even look at me oddly any more when I walk in the door saying “Grab a couple spoons!” I supplement the food for 5–8 families for pennies.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@jca I dry all of my work clothes on the “no heat” option. It’s just air. I don’t use fabric softener because certain parts of my anatomy don’t take well fragrances, so just hanging my clothes up to air dry makes them stiff and I end up putting them in the dryer for 10–15 minutes anyway. I find that the no heat cycle keeps them soft without shrinking or damaging them with heat.

Dutchess_III's avatar

The clothes are no more “gross” than the clothes hanging in your closet. Finding something is akin to finding a treasure. To me it’s a lot more interesting than pawing through racks of the exact same shirt, right off the factory truck, so you can buy the same shirt 50 other people have.

I get a lot of compliments on my clothes, and I have no problem telling where I got them. I do have a problem with people turning their nose up when they find out, like the jacket they just loved a moment ago is suddenly unattractive and gross.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@Dutchess_III You know, 50 other people have that shirt off the Goodwill rack, too. It was also on a rack with identical shirts right off a factory truck once.

I don’t find the clothes at Goodwill gross, unless we’re talking bathing suits. I know you were referring to the answer @jca gave, but I just want to make it clear that my comment about “offensive” clothing was more about the tons of out of style clothing I’ve had to sift through just to find one cute top. I certainly don’t turn my nose up at Goodwill – I just don’t have the patience for it. I hate shopping for the most part – I don’t want to double or triple my time searching because of how they set up their store.

ibstubro's avatar

I get a big kick out of wearing my $250 ($6) boots with my $225 ($4) jeans and nice $160 ($4) sweater, @Dutchess_III.

There is a huge difference in Goodwills, too, @livelaughlove21. Our local one is high, because they are the only thrift in town. I know of one in St. Louis that has very high-end merchandize and cheap prices. I recently bought a plate-glass and brass sofa table there for $20. I’ll get $75.

The beauty of Goodwill is that they farm their stuff out, and don’t have to rely on local donations. The Salvation Army’s not good about that, and a poor town or neighborhood begets a poor thrift. I don’t have a Target within an hour drive, but I regularly buy Target goods, new with tag, at the local Goodwill in town.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Don’t think you can get swimming suits at Goodwill, or underwear or bras either.

I hate shopping too. When we go it’s just to meander through on a quiet Saturday to see what all they have. I rarely go through item by item, unless there is something semi-specific that I’m looking for. Usually I just glance along the side of the clothes and if something catches my eye, I’ll pull it out for a closer look.

My favorite thrift store was in Wichita on Central. It was about a mile from a really RICH subsection of Wichita, an actual town within Wichita called Eastborough. I found a lot of expensive stuff at that store for nothing.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@Dutchess_III “Don’t think you can get swimming suits at Goodwill, or underwear or bras either.”

You can at ours. Swimsuits, anyway. I wouldn’t have made that comment if I’d never seen them there.

Cruiser's avatar

@Dutchess_III We luckily were able to buy our son a really nice pair of swim trunks at Goodwill while on vacation last summer when he forgot to pack his.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Interesting about the swim suits. I don’t recall ever seeing any, but then, I wasn’t looking.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I just couldn’t get over the fact that someone else’s genitalia was in direct contact with something that my genitalia would be in direct contact with. I mean, if my genitals are going to touch someone else’s, I at least need to be treated to dinner first.

You never know what someone has going on down there. Even after it’s washed, I’d feel yucky about it. I suppose it would be different if it was a kid, but I think I’d make the child wear underwear as well, just to make me feel better.

jca's avatar

Goodwill criticism:

Charity Navigator facts showing Goodwill Industries, NY/NJ chapter makes $467k annually:

keobooks's avatar

I used to work in a glass factory. My job was in the box department where they designed and shipped out the boxes the glasses would travel in. Once I remember we were sending out two pickle jars. One jar was generic and the other jar was Del Monte. I asked how they separated the pickles. I assumed they put the best pickles in the Del Monte jar and the worst in the generic jar.

I found out the generic and Del Monte pickles were identical. The jars went through the same assembly line and the only difference was the label. I also found out that many many many products are manufactured and shipped out this way. Your generic may be identical to some expensive name brand, and only be different in the packaging.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@livelaughlove21 lots of people feel that. It’s pretty silly, really, but that’s why they don’t sell underwear.

I bought a used dishwasher at a garage sale once. I posted about it on Someone made a comment about how grossed out she’d be thinking of all the stranger’s dirty dishes that had been washed in it! Just left me scratching my head!

livelaughlove21's avatar

@Dutchess_III Dirty dishes don’t bother me. Potentially disease-ridden vaginas do.

Dutchess_III's avatar

They wash and dry the clothes first @livelaughlove21. It’s safe. It’s just your imagination messing with you.

jca's avatar

I don’t think they wash the clothes first – the store smells like old musty smokey clothes.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@jca Goodwill does have a distinct scent, now that you mention it.

I don’t care if they wash the clothes or not. I’d certainly wash them before I put them on, so that’s not the problem. Still, I prefer my swimsuits and undergarments to only be worn by me once that stupid piece of sticky paper is removed from the crotch.

jca's avatar

I googled it and they do not wash their clothes.

Even if they did, I wouldn’t wear anything used before washing it first.

I agree I would not want to wear a used bathing suit, especially if I did not know the original owner.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I wouldn’t wear a bathing suit or under garment from Goodwill either.

When I drop off stuff, I see about 3 washing machines and 3 dryers in the back. They look like they’re hooked up, but maybe not. Maybe they’re donations.

jca's avatar

I googled it.

Think about it – if they washed all the clothes that are donated, they’d need a laundromat just to handle so many clothes.

The info I provided from CharityNav, the guy in charge of the NY/NJ chapter makes $467 (2014). That’s just one chapter. I heard the head makes 1 mil but I can’t confirm it – not from Charity Nav. People that work there make less than minimum wage.

I am not knocking Goodwill – I know some people that get great stuff from them. However, there are other charities that may be more deserving.

ibstubro's avatar

Goodwill sells socks, hats, underwear and swimsuits, but not necessarily used. The socks and underwear appear to be new.

My Goodwill does not have a scent, nor does my favorite in St. Louis. Salvation Army stores have more of a tendency to smell.

Do not wear used clothing with out first washing, and do not use dressing rooms (regardless of new or used) with carpeting. I know first hand of a crab infestation epidemic caused by tanning salon carpet, and dressing rooms qualify.

jca's avatar

So, it seems that for some cleaning products and some foods, the cheap brands are equivalent and sometimes better. Otherwise, not much else. Correct?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh I don’t know. How do we go through the gauntlet of everything @jca?

ibstubro's avatar

Of course we’ve not covered everything!

We never even touched on discount stores that carry mostly only their own brand, such as Aldi. I find that the store-brand at Aldi is generally superior to the average “President’s Choice”. National store brands tend to be better, in my opinion, than regional store brands. Less accountability and less clout for purchasing in quantity.

jca's avatar

I did say “food.”

Dutchess_III's avatar

No you said, “cleaning products and food.” So, what exactly were you referring to when you said, “Not much else.” What other “else?”

jca's avatar

Not clothes, not hair products, not makeup, not soap.

ibstubro's avatar

I find that Kmart is comparable to Penny’s on clothes, but cheaper. Both are generally superior to Walmart, which used to be trash. I no longer retail shop, however. I’m 100% re-sale or discount store clothes. Maybe the clearance rack at Kohl’s now and again.

I use goop in my hair a couple of times a month, and the Suave brand @ (maybe) $3 is as good as the American-whatever brand @ something like $20+.

There are companies that produce store brands using the same ingredients on the same equipment, and those that do not. General Mills, for instance, will not. Ralston Purina, on the other had, used to exist to make store brands. I’m guessing that was true of pet food as well as cereal, etc.

Some times you can tell. If the stitching or package size/shape is identical, it might very well all be produced at the same plant.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think there is a difference in clothes. Not soap, though (which is a cleaning product) and I’ve found that Covergirl works better than any other make up for me. Hair products, for me anyway, all work the same regardless of price, except for mousse. I’ve found that the cheaper mousse is a little heavier and gives me more of that scrunchy look that I prefer.

ibstubro's avatar

I bought some sort of American _____ styling paste clearanced and loved it. When I went to buy more it was over $20 for a can about the size of a small shoe polish. I couldn’t force myself to do that and I bought a couple brands until I settled on Suave. It’s as good or better than the other stuff.

I only use Colgate toothpaste, but that’s because of the packaging (the tiny bottle). Even at that, I kept at it until I found them at The Dollar Tree where I bought 8–10.

jca's avatar

Soap, sometimes cheaper brands are made in China. Hair products – the cheaper ones work for me, too but are definitely more watery, so you’re paying for water. I read that you have to be careful buying things from dollar stores because the products that seem to be equivalent are often made in China or Mexico. If you’re wondering what’s the deal with China or Mexico, just google Chinese Products Lead or something like that. China has a history of making inferior products using lead and other toxic chemicals.

ibstubro's avatar

Shoes. If you have the money, I definitely think you should buy good quality, name brand shoes.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Funny you should bring that up. My husband has problems with his feet so he spends a LOT of money on high-dollar, cushy tennis shoes. He keeps trying to talk me into buying more expensive shoes, but I refuse. I can see no reason for it. I stick with the cheap Walmart brands. Well, he came across a pair of Nikes at Goodwill in my size and he bought them. He was so excited, saying “You won’t believe the difference these will make!”
I don’t like them. There is so much cushion that I can’t feel the ground with my feet. I feel clunky and uncoordinated. It’s like trying to walk on pillows or something. I much prefer my cheap o shoes. But…this is coming from a person who is more often than not barefoot 24/7, every chance she gets, whereas my husband never, ever takes off his shoes except to shower and sleep.
As far as dress shoes, 100% from Goodwill.

Seek's avatar

Soap – 90% of the time I use stuff an acquaintance of mine makes in her garage. Real lye soap. I get a different “flavor” every time.

Shampoo – If I have my ‘druthers, I use Ion, which is sold at Sally Beauty Supply. When it’s on sale it’s about $10 for a liter, which breaks down to about 1.5 times the price of Suave Professionals. Since Suave doesn’t make a shampoo that washes out rust (I have really rusty water), I prefer Ion.

Razors – I really prefer the cheapo, 2 blade disposables. 12–15 for $3 or less, as compared to $20 for three cartridges of the name brand women’s razor (or men’s razor. I have one of each, and can tell no difference). The 2 blade gets a better shave, and I don’t have to feel bad about chucking the thing after two or three uses.

Food – As I mentioned before, I prefer Publix store-brand just about anything. Better “Triscuits”, better tortilla chips, better diet cherry cola (they use Splenda!), better tinned beans, better almost everything. I’m a little brand snobbish about Philadelphia cream cheese, but to be fair I haven’t done a blind taste test to see whether I can actually tell the difference.

Shoes – I don’t shop for shoes if I can help it. I have problems with my feet that leave me frustrated trying to find a pair of shoes that fit. I have a very narrow heel, and a very wide toe. So if shoes comfortably fit my toe, I’ll walk right out of them, and if they fit my heel, I’m in agony. I tend to buy high boots in a larger size. Hard to walk out of knee-high leather. And I’m not bothered about brand names at all. The best pair of boots I ever owned I picked up in a “fill a bag” sale at a thrift store, and the brand name was already worn off of them.

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