« International regulation: the next financial markets threat | Main | Are we headed for another Depression? »

February 24, 2022

No-name is the new brand-name

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

There are few things more depressing than the contrast between name-brand grocery items and the store-brand products they usually sit next to on shelves. One is bright, familiar and welcoming, the other is usually dressed in dim, orangeish-yellow packaging that can best be described as looking like a cross between vomit and the upholstery at my nan’s house.

Yet no-name brands have been the more consumer-conscientious alternative for years, so it’s no surprise – in this economic pinch – sales are now way up compared to their big-name, higher-priced counterparts.

The Financial Post’s Drew Hasselback reports there’s a new study out of the U.S. that proves just that. Drawn from a six-week price comparison of “staple” grocery items like canned soup, cookies, dry pasta, dog food and ice cream, the data concludes sales of store-brand products are up an impressive 10% from last year. Sales of name-brand products changed only 2.4% from the year before.

We’re not exactly blowing your hair back by telling you this shift is a result of an economic nightmare we’re not quite out of, but we do wonder what this trend will mean looking forward. Besides regular shoppers being forced into bargain-hunting mode, the shift in sales is also likely due to major grocery producers scaling back their advertising.

But when things rebound – and Heinz and Quaker Oats and Nestle are all back in full marketing force – where will we go? Do we learn from the recession and carry on with our smarter shopping, or go right back to our regular visits with Toucan Sam and that creepy Hamburger Helper mitt?

It’s naïve to suggest no-name brands will out-muscle the name-brands anytime soon, but you’d have to think – after all this mess – a universal shift in shopping philosophy is now at least a possibility.



Post a comment


Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...