Name Brand or Generic?

Many of us have stood at a store shelf and hemmed and hawed about buying a name brand product or the generic version right beside it. If the situation sounds familiar, do you generally grab the product you recognize from commercials, or do you reach for the alternative?

Attitudes toward name brands and generic or store brands have changed in recent years, said Kimberly Danger, author of 1,000 Best Baby Bargains. While some consumers will always choose the familiarity and comfort of a name brand, an increasing number of people are uncomfortable being so exclusive.

As more shoppers buy off-brands, retailers offer more store-branded products than ever before. These items are typically made with the same ingredients and by the same manufacturers as the more expensive products they're duplicating.

Therefore, consumers typically do not sacrifice quality by going generic, said Consumer Reports.

In a blind taste test of name brand and off-brand foods conducted in October 2009, the participants' palates generally could not decipher between the two.

Our wallets know the difference, however. National brands cost 25 to 50 percent more than similar-quality store brands, Consumer Reports said.

"Name brands cost more because those companies spend money on research, development, as well as advertising, and generics ride their coattails, so to speak," said Robyn Moreno, author of Practically Posh.

Before you buy, Danger suggested, compare ingredients on each label, then do a blind side-by-side taste test at home to see if your perception of taste and quality was influenced by labels.

"The answer varies from product to product," she said. "Since most store brand products cost less than premium brands, they're certainly worth a try."

How much do you know about name brand and generic products? Test your knowledge.

What generic products do you recommend over their name brand versions?

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