House Brands vs. Generic

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As consumer perceptions of quality continue to improve and the economic challenges of the past few years persist, more and more consumers are switching from name brand products to generics or house brands.

What is a house brand or a generic product? A house brand, otherwise known as a store brand, is a proprietary brand of merchandise sold by one retailer and often bearing the name of the retailer. A house brand is usually sold at a lower price than the equivalent name brand product and can, sometimes, have packaging identical to that of the national brand. Whereas, a generic brand has no-proprietary name and can even be absence of a brand name.

Introduced in the 1970’s, generics emerged during the recession as a way to help consumers save money. The associated packaging was a bland black-and-white or yellow-and-black and purposefully designed to be unattractive to “connote the notion that these products were saving you a lot of money” (Maleshefski, 2008). In many ways they were. Not only were the products inferior on the outer labeling but on the product inside as well. Manufacturers sought out lower-quality fruits, meats, and other materials to drive the price down. For example, generic tea bags may contain tea dust whereas the national name brand actually contained tea leafs (Maleshefski, 2008).

In 1979, The Private Label Manufacturing Association was formed. They are a trade association that represents this industry of over 3,000 companies that produce store brand products (PLMA, 2010). As we came out of the recession, our need for better quality products and hedonic factors, such as family and peer approval, influenced our buying decisions (Harcar, Kara, Kucukemiroglu, Rojas-Mendez, 2009). The movement changed the inferior black–and-white packaging to manufacturers producing packaging to specific retailer specifications as well as using higher quality ingredients.

As this segment started to grow, the Private Label Manufacturing Association...
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