Budget vs brand: how much New Zealanders could save on food

Kiwi shoppers could save hundreds of dollars each month by avoiding the big brands, but emotional loyalty to premium products makes it hard to break our buying habits.

We compared the prices of 25 popular supermarket items from big brands – such as butter, cheese, eggs, milk, nappies and toilet paper – with their less glamorous branded versions of Countdown, to see what a difference it could do on your weekly grocery bill.

Purchasing only top brands saw the total bill rise to $181.49, while the same list of generic items was only $117.51.

"There are always people who are loyal to certain brands, and if they are really loyal, they will find it difficult to change this habit,” says Bodo Lang, associate professor of marketing at the University of Auckland.

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“There are always people who are loyal to certain brands, and if they’re really loyal, they’ll have a hard time changing that habit,” says Bodo Lang, associate professor of marketing at the University of Auckland.

That’s a savings of up to $63.98 per week, or over $3,000 per year.

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Of the 25 grocery items tested, the only cheaper brand was Farmer Brown eggs, where a dozen size 7 barn eggs cost $5.50, compared to $5.90 for house brand Countdown.

But that was more than offset by the big savings on other items.

The biggest saving was in instant coffee, where 200g of Moccona cost, at $21, nearly triple the cost of Countdown’s house brand, which cost $7.50.

Significant savings could also be made on olive oil – $16.59 for a liter of Olivani versus $10.70 for the Countdown brand – toilet paper, bacon, flour, dry pasta and many other products basic.

But while budget brands are certainly cheaper and often close in quality to more expensive versions, Bodo Lang, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Auckland, says our buying choices are influenced more by emotional attachment. only by the low price and the good price-performance ratio.

“Often people don’t buy products for what they do, but for what they mean,” Lang said.

“The brand has become in some ways less of a quality signal, but more of a status signal and more of a feel-good factor for people to feel comfortable buying the premium brand.

“It goes beyond the actual ingredients. There are emotional and status benefits to buying these brands.

Lang notes that if we were all strapped for money and price was never a factor in our purchasing decisions, most of us would stick with the most expensive big name brand.

“The off-brands don’t really have any meaning other than ‘hey, I’m cheap.’ And if you sum it up, if everyone had enough money, no one would want to buy a product that says “hey, I’m cheap”.

But with the cost of living rising, Lang thinks more Kiwi consumers will prioritize low prices over the other perceived benefits of buying big brands.

In some cases – baked beans for example – a big brand version may have higher nutritional value than its budget brand cousin, or more expensive cleaning products may be better for the environment. But as we start to watch our spending, we can start choosing the cheaper version regardless.

“You often get more of the ingredient you’re looking for if you buy the brand name product, but most people aren’t as choosy — they just look at the price,” Lang said. “And as a result, they are increasingly looking for off-brand products.

“New Zealand already has a very high cost of living to start with, and it’s going up even more right now, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the market share for off-brand brands increased quite dramatically, because more and more Kiwis will be looking to stretch their grocery budget a bit more.

Kiwi shoppers could save money by avoiding the big brands and buying the cheaper generic versions, but our buying habits can be hard to break.

MARTIN DE RUYTER/STUFF

Kiwi shoppers could save money by avoiding the big brands and buying the cheaper generic versions, but our shopping habits can be hard to break.

“As buyers, we have to make hundreds of decisions. And if you really wanted to be fully rational about buying all your items, you’d spend hours with a calculator adding them up.

“Nobody does that because nobody has the time. So we’re basically trading accuracy for speed. And that’s why price is so important.

“But there are always people who are loyal to certain brands, and if they’re really loyal, they’ll have a hard time changing that habit.”

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