Stop Buying Brand Names!
Ten years ago as an angsty little marketer, I wanted to explore why I was leaning more and more towards “No-Name” Products, so I wrote this; The No-Name Strategy. You know the No-name brands, every supermarket has their “own”. At Superstore: No Name, and President’s Choice. At Safeway, Select (my Grand parents never bought regular pop), at Sobey’s it’s Compliments, at Costco it’s Kirkland.
Almost every grocery store has their own brands which tend to be cheaper than their comparable branded counterparts. So why are we buying the more expensive one? Do you feel you trust it more? What bad stuff could be in the generic version?! For a long time I’ve bought generic pop citing that I still can’t taste the difference. Though teaching my first class I did divulge the fact that when I first moved out of my house and living with a roommate, we used to purchase no-name pop for the house but branded Coke or Ginger Ale if we were going to a party, why in the heck would we do such a thing?
It’s moments like this that I love marketing for, moments that make you feel so humble, so, well, dumb in moments of pure showing of ego.
The fact that we didn’t want to be seen at a party with “No-name Cola” was a sign of where our confidence was at. After all, you know what the studies show, the larger the brand name on your chest, the smaller the ego. Or what the economics community calls Conspicuous Consumption; buying things to signal to others your wealth. Not a healthy practice to be into, I know because for the majority of my life I loved brands, wore brands, and had to have the new “cool” thing.
Buying quality products is one thing, refusing to purchase items because they are unbranded is silly. The problem with that is it’s not sustainable and teaches the wrong lesson. Life’s not about stuff. It’s about impact, experiences, and love. Things help you measure your status, but the moment you purchase something just because “you can” doesn’t mean you should. Humility goes much further than the person with the newest “thing”.
You aren’t in the in crowd unless you’re doing what the cool people do! Who decides what’s “cool”? Since the dawn of time some people have just been better trend setters than others, those that understand it know what to look for. They easily convince us to buy the next iPhone, headphones, Xbox, TV, etc. The best brands are the ones to trust…..right? You can’t possibly buy the generic brand, can you?
That’s exactly what the marketers want you to think! Don’t trust the cheap one! It can’t be good!
Then I hear this podcast:
By simply no longer purchasing brand name medicine we could save $1 billion.
Do Doctor’s purchase the same over the counter medication that you and I buy? NO. The majority of educated medical professionals know that what’s in the branded box and what’s in the generic box are the same.
It’s not just Freakonomics talking about over priced name brands….
Once you begin researching the topic of whether or not our medical officials opt to use the no-name medication, what you find is almost a common thread among the forward thinking establishment, no one buys branded things. Maybe consumerism has taken a turn for the better!
Why were we left in the dark? How come these doctors didn’t come out and tell us about this? To answer that question all you have to do is take just a little peak into the pharmaceuticals industry and why Doctors may be incentivized to do the exact opposite. No one has a vested interest in telling you to “buy the generic pain killer, it’s the same thing!”. The generic brand can’t afford to advertise so they simply compete on price point alone, relative quality is held equal.
We buy brands we trust. We rarely stop to think why we’re buying what we are buying. Being more conscious of why you’re buying certain items will make you a better consumer. And yes sometimes the “branded” product is in fact the best value in the given market. Tennis balls being one of those markets. I’ve yet to find a better ball than the Wilson U.S. Open balls (for the gigantic $5.99 premium price I pay, I do not want to pay any less for a better ball).
Having an attachment to brands can be expensive
We buy brands for the way they make us feel. Disagree all you want, the second you put on those Nike runners or that Prada purse you get a little shop of self-esteem. Whether that last is another question. In the short term branding and “trusted” brands give us a nice warm feeling when we use them. To affiliate yourself with a “cool” brand by default leaves you with the feeling of “being cool”. That’s not sustainable though. Our world pushed us to care about the way we look, the way we dress and the brands we wear. As a kid I remember refusing to wear clothing that wasn’t branded, that’s not healthy at all.
How do you get past the overt Branding of 2017 and beyond?
Don’t by in. Reading books like The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari and Spent will show you how overly consumer driven we really are. Marketing messages are coming at us from all different directions, you need to protect yourself. Don’t buy things because of a logo or “brand”. Buy things because they’re a quality product. If your task is to “brand” a company, product, or service, good luck.
We all know Branding only works on Cattle. 🙂
A paper from Brown University from January 2015: