Own brand v branded: When is it worth it?

Companies spend millions of pounds branding and marketing everyday items to make them more appealing to us. When you spend that kind of money improving the odds we’ll buy the item, the company is going to want to make its money back. It does that by convincing you that you should spend more on something you could buy at half the price. But are you being ripped off? Yes! Here are the items you should always buy the own brand versions of. 


Kids (and adults) are bombarded with colourful, exciting ads on the television with adorable mascots (and in my day, you got a toy in the box too!). It’s the perfect media attack, with branded cereals being 25-50% more expensive than supermarket own brands.

The taste and look of generic cereals is the same as branded versions, and generally produced with the same ingredients by the same manufacturers – just Tony The Tiger ain’t showing his face. Is that mug worth paying twice as much for?

If you’re kids are really giving you jip, you can always refill a name-brand box with generic. Little fools! ha!

branded v own brand Tony The Tiger


Cleaning products

This super powered hulk magic bleach will kill 99.9% of bacteria. You don’t want to die do you? Get rid of ALL the germs – get spending! 

A lot of advertising pounds go into making us think that the newest floor cleaner, bleach detergent or dust repellent is going to start a cleaning revolution in our homes. It’s going to take less time, be easy and even fun to scrub your toilet!

But the reality is the majority of the cleaning products we use aren’t really that different from each other, which means, unless you really like the way something smells, or a particular product really does make your life easier, you’re better off going generic.

If you’re really thrifty, you could skip the household cleaner aisle altogether and look into alternative methods of using the ingredients themselves. My mother swears that most household tasks can be accomplished with vinegar, baking soda and little time and effort. Or, not bothering to clean at all…


own brand v branded Cilit Bang!


Spices and Seasonings

Skipping dinners out and cooking at home is a great way to save money and spices and seasonings can be key to a tasty meal. Just because spices can make a big difference in the kitchen when it comes to taste doesn’t mean you need to be spending more than you need to on them.

If your recipe needs some paprika for example, you could go for the Swartz brand (34G) for £1.50 – or, you could get the Tesco version (53G – a bigger jar!) for 85p. It’s the same stuff! 

To get the very best bargains, ditch the supermarkets altogether and check out your local Indian food market/shop for rock bottom prices. 

own bran v branded Spices


Cables and batteries

Guess what, if you dip a HDMI cable in gold, it doesn’t do anything extra. Sprinkle diamonds on it if you like, will still do the same as a £1 one from Poundland. They conduct electrons every bit as easily and efficiently as more expensive cables.

Batteries are a bit controversial, and sure cheap batteries do tend to have shorter lives than branded ones, but there have been tests to show that this doesn’t actually outweigh the cost. Don’t go for the cheapest batteries which do tend to fade pretty quickly, but you don’t need top of the line with unnecessary bells and whistles.



Millions of pounds are spent to make us feel rubbish about ourselves, so we spend money to feel a bit better. Always remember that some bloke in an expensive suit is making a load of money from your insecurities. He wants you to buy expensive things and buy it a lot of it.

Beauty branding is one of the biggest markets in advertising, but the simple truth is that there are almost no chemical difference between the various products in this category.

There are no rules against making an exact copy of a beauty product, it’s just the branding and lifestyle association we have with more expensive products that makes the difference. While some high-tech products like anti-aging creams may be patented (by the way, they are rubbish too – read Bad Science, by Dr. Ben Goldacre, it’s a great book), the majority of generic cosmetics and skincare lines are formulated in near-perfect replication of more expensive lines.

In fact Vogue wrote how Poundland makeup is amazing. If it thinks £1 eyeshadow is decent, why would you spend £20? Also, Aldi’s £7 Lacura Caviar Illumination day cream, was deemed ‘almost’ as good as £292 La Prairie by The Daily Mail

Own brand



If you ever catch me paying £5 for some paracetamol, you really do know i’m dying – or have lost my mind. Either way, call for help. To make real money, branding is very important in medicine, because when it comes to yours and your loved ones health, you don’t want to play around. You want them better and you’ll pay extra for better products.

But here’s the thing – they aren’t better products. The drug companies have got you right where they want you, and you’re being played for a fool. When you pick up the drugs next time you’re in the store, ignore all the branding and promises and get straight to the bit that tells you what is in the product. Compare it with the own brand version and see if there is any difference? There isn’t right? Sometimes, brands add caffeine for ‘extra power’, but there’s no more in there than you’ll get in a cup of coffee. It’s a con.

non branded

Anything I shouldn’t get the cheap version of?

  • Toilet roll – Because life is too short for tracing paper loo roll. Now don’t get me wrong, I never spend more than 50p for a roll (and try to aim for 30p), but brand name toilet paper is generally better quality and won’t break apart. Keep an eye out for coupons to get a bargain.
  • Bin Bags – Urgh, there’s nothing worse than a cheap bin bag? You know, the type that are almost see-through. All it takes is a finger to break the bag and you have bin juice all over yourself and your floor. Spend the extra 30p.
  • Shoes – controversial I know, but I spent years of my life with cold wet feet because I was wearing Primark Uggs and rubbish flats. Don’t necessarily go for the full brand, but you wear your shoes every day, treat your feet!


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