"Why I'll never buy Home Brand"


70 per cent of us won’t buy cereal unless it’s brand name. We like some cute cartoon characters and a bright and colourful cardboard box with your morning treat.

More than 60 per cent refuse to buy generic brand toilet paper either. We like to feel the smooth softness of expense when we wipe our behinds.

However, reports show that we are more willing to accept home brand milk and eggs as home brand products come to take up more and more space on supermarket shelves.

Home brands are back in the news this week after research agency Colmar Brunton found that there are certain things people will not compromise on when choosing between home brand and traditional labels.

This from the Herald Sun:

Home-brand products are forecast to snare a third of total supermarket sales in five years, topping $31.8 billion.

Project manager Andrea Stephen said opting for home brands, also known as generic, was typically acceptable in such categories because items were more homogenous.

“You don’t often pick up your milk and have a look at the brand,” she said.

“Whereas with breakfast cereal, it’s all about the box and what that says to you.”

IBISWorld predicts cost-of-living pressures will push home-brand sales to $21.6 billion or 25.2 per cent of supermarket sales this financial year.

Senior industry analyst Naren Sivasailam said established brands that connected with shoppers were best placed to endure.

Coles spokesman Jim Cooper said more than three-quarters of goods on shelves were branded.

Woolworths said more than 90 per cent of its grocery sales came from established brands.

Editor of Mamamia Publishing, Bec Sparrow is a Home Brand buyer. She wrote for us previously that:

I got outed last week. As a home-brand buyer. And now it seems that my preference for buying home-brand flour and sugar and washing-up liquid and jelly (actually, I thought the jelly was a bit crap) means that I’m guilty of crippling the Australian economy or destroying people’s livelihoods or eating small puppies. Or something.

Like most people I live on a budget and my family’s grocery bill (and there’s just three of us) isn’t getting any smaller. I also feel like I can’t win. I’m busting my you-know-what trying to buy fresh. And less packaged foods. And more fruit and veg. And more Australian made products. And and and … three million other things the media helpfully like to point out in their bid to drive me bananas.

I’m also a leetle bit tired of the sneaky increases in food items from the big multinationals and the sneaky down-sizing in quantity of the major brands (yes, Cadbury, I’m looking at you). Look we have new packaging! And a new logo! And try not to notice that we’re 30g lighter but charging you more! Is it any wonder so many of us are trying to save a dollar or two when we can? Hmm.

Managing Editor of iVillage and former MM-er, Lana Hirschowitz has a different point of view.

Lana writes:

I have always been a supporter of the under-dog. Give me a sports match, ask me to choose a side and I’ll pick the team with the least chance of winning. It’s not because I like losing, it’s just that I like competition. Clear winners are great but less so if there is no opposition. It make the game boring.

This very line of thinking is the reason that I don’t buy homebrand. It’s not because I don’t like their products or that I try spend as much money as I can, it’s just that I think competition fuels our market and no place as strongly as on our supermarket shelves.

Competition gives consumers choice. I don’t object to having homebrand on the shelves, I just choose not to buy it – and I feel comfortable knowing that different suppliers operate within the same market promoting competition and giving me the right to decide who I want to support and what I should buy.

But looking at the shelves of my local supermarket my choices are eroding. In fact, in some areas there is no choice at all. Insidiously wrapped to look “non-generic”, the shelves are full of homebrand products – there is no other option.

Yesterday at my local Coles (which is HUGE) there was not a single competing brand in the health food section – I wanted to buy quinoa, flaxseed and chia. The only option I had was to buy the Coles homebrand. That’s not competition, it’s not good for me, it’s not good for small business and in the long run I don’t believe it’s good for the economy.

With no choice, the supermarkets will be able to charge anything they like, they will be able to dictate what we purchase and they will force people out of business. And I will never be able to find the quinoa that I like.

Here’s a gallery of Coles and homebrand lookalikes, via Mumbrella. They’re remarkably similar in layout, shape and even colour choice…

So what do you think? Do you buy branded or homebrand products? Why?