What Products are Worth the Name Brand?

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name brand

So there I was sitting at a friend’s party with two women I didn’t know that well. One was a friend of a friend, and she was telling the other woman about her wedding dress, which had experienced an unfortunate accident at the hands of a seamstress.

Apparently, the seamstress made a pretty big mistake, and she wasn’t going to be able to wear it. She sat there telling her story almost near tears, and then exclaimed, “and it was a Vera!”

I felt for her – I really did. No woman wants her wedding dress ruined. However, it was her emphasis on the word Vera (as in Vera Wang) that kind of irked me, as if the name brand of the dress made the situation even more dire. I’m sure she spent a considerable amount of money on her dress, and rightly so since Vera Wang dresses are absolutely stunning. However, it was her tone that made me wonder if she expected the name brand and the price to make her dress exempt from seamstress disasters? Surely no brand name has that sort of magic…

Buying Name Brands

When brainstorming for this post, I tried to think about everything I buy that is a name brand. One weird thing I’m devoted to is name brand q-tips. The off brand just doesn’t have the same… fluffiness? However q-tips are a far cry from Vera Wang so it’s not that much of a luxury. 😉

I actually buy off brand laundry detergent, cereal, canned goods, and tons of other items. It’s kind of hard to buy shoes and cars and clothes without some sort of brand on them, but I’ll usually purchase clothing from Target versus something with a “better” name on the tag.

However, I’ve learned recently that name brand diapers are definitely worth the extra money. It only took getting peed on twice in one night by two different kids to convince me of that! 🙂 (Editor’s note – I think we learned the exact same lesson too! Getting urine on you has a funny way of causing you to spend a little more. 😉 )

Name Brand Experiences

I also find it interesting that so many experiences and vacations are falling under the name brand category too, like taking a “Disney” or a “Sandals” vacation versus one that’s off the beaten path and lesser known. Also, I feel like many people purchase “name brand pets,” ones with special pedigrees or certain breeds. (My dog, the side of the road rescue mutt, is about the furthest thing from that!) However, I definitely fell for the name brand college and have a nice student loan payment every month to remind me of it.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that name brands are all around us whether it’s a can of green beans or an entire branded vacation. Some of them are definitely worth it and exude quality and style while others are simply overrated.


What are some name brand items that you buy consistently? Be honest: Is it because of the name or because it’s actually really great quality?

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Catherine Alford is the go to personal finance expert for parents who want to better their finances and take on a more active financial role in their families.


  • DC @ Young Adult Money says:

    Now that you mention it, I will definitely go with a better-known brand when I go on vacation. I went on a Sandals vacation for our honeymoon and it totally lived up to the hype and I would definitely do it again. When it comes to every day things, though, I am perfectly happy buying the generic brand. I really like Target’s generic brand stuff and will usually get that over a name brand.

    • Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) says:

      I think we’ve talked about this before because we did a sandals vacation too for our honeymoon. I had fun but I think I’d try something different next time. πŸ™‚

  • Brian says:

    Most of the ‘brand name’ products I love are consumables. Bounty, Life cereal, wheat thins, Sabra hummus, Stoney Field milk/yogurt. Things like that. I’ll tend to buy brand name if I notice there is a significant difference between the brand and the generic.

    How about cars? I only buy Toyota’s and Honda’s, but its hard to know what the generic version of them is (maybe chevy or kia)?

    • Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) says:

      That’s a good point. I was thinking about cars but then I was thinking they were all brands?! But now that you mention it there are definitely copycats that are less expensive.

  • Thomas @ i need money ASAP! says:

    Part of the reason we bought our Honda was the name brand. Although we knew that the Honda name was that way because of their track record of building quality cars. So it was partially based on the quality too. We definitely didn’t do it for name brand recognition, otherwise we would have purchased something more flashy.

  • Retire Before Dad says:

    Funny you mention Q-tips. I once met a person who worked for Unilever. They manufacture Q-tips. He was adamant that Q-tips were a superior product to any off name brand similar product. He was in marketing, so of course he would say that, but I believed him. I was faced with buying regular Nyquil or the store brand equivalent recently. On the Nyquil bottle it said “We don’t make the store brand!”, basically saying only Nyquil is the only real stuff. I’d never seen that before on labeling. And sure enough I bought the Nyquil and paid an extra $4 or so.

    • Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) says:

      That’s pretty interesting marketing. πŸ™‚ Someone had their thinking cap on.

  • Amanda @ Passionately Simple Life says:

    Shoes! They are something that I won’t skimp on, especially when I’m walking everywhere. They can seriously affect the health of your whole body and I’m not going to take a sick day because my back is killing me.

  • Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter says:

    I have NO brand loyalty whatsoever except for with a few beauty products ( I don’t want to put junk on my skin). As far as food, clothes, what have you – I’m not just loyal to anything. I buy what is good quality and don’t let a brand name make my decision for me. It’s sad about the wedding dress, regardless of the brand!

  • Jen @ Jen Spends says:

    Name brand baby formula is a big one for me. We had a bad experience with store brand, and I felt their advertising was misleading, so I won’t buy it again. I agree about diapers, too.

    Definitely name brand for skincare, makeup and hair products. I am super picky. Those generic bath and body gift sets you can get at Walmart around the holidays make me cringe! I also try to stick with name brand for clothing because it lasts better, fits better, and has a bit of resale value.

    I do buy a lot of store brand food, and haven’t noticed much of a difference in quality, if any. I’ll buy whatever I can get cheapest.

    • Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) says:

      I’m still working on finding a brand I like with makeup. You should do a post on it!

  • Lauren says:

    Completely agree with you about the diapers. While it hurt to be basically throwing that money away every month, it was much better than having a leaky baby!

    • Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) says:

      I know. We’re doing cloth diapers mostly but we just moved and I did disposables for 3 days and yeah I definitely noticed a difference!

  • E.M. says:

    Funny you mention q-tips, I had a bad experience buying off brand once, but then I purchased another store’s brand and it was much better. I can’t think of any brand I’m particularly loyal to, either. I like to give most things a fair chance to see if I can save money somewhere. If I don’t like it, chances are the boyfriend will at least eat it, so it doesn’t go to waste!

  • Michelle says:

    I don’t know if there is any brand that I am extremely loyal to, at least not that I can think of right now – unless we talk about Disney! πŸ™‚

  • Andrew@LivingRichCheaply says:

    I pretty much buy off brand everything for the most part, unless I’ve tried it and don’t like it which is rare. I’m with you with diapers though =) And actually sometimes I know it doesn’t make a difference but I buy name brand baby stuff.

  • Shannon @ Financially Blonde says:

    I used to be a name brand person and now I have definitely toned that down, though, I do believe that for some items, the name brand is more of an investment in quality than anything else. I have lots of cheap shoes that hurt my feet or wear very fast. I have two pairs of expensive name brand shoes, though, that I have had for almost five years, though, I wear all the time and they make my feet feel great.I have a purse that is the same way. For most items, though, there really isn’t a difference and I feel the extra cost isn’t worth it.

  • Kassandra says:

    In my younger days I was all about the brands but nowadays I’m more about quality vs. price. I do like Fila sneakers because they are comfortable for my feet. I do tend to go with higher end brands for my shoes in general due to the fit, comfort and quality. I have a thing about only using Q-tips too, I have tried the non-name versions and my ears just can’t take it lol.

  • Josh @ says:

    I’m a name brand freak when it comes to peanut butter. For the most part though, I’m perfectly happy paying less for the same thing in a different package. I’ve actually figured out that the huge bags of cereal at Wal-Mart for five bucks generally taste better than the five buck box of Kellogg brand cereals!

  • Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies says:

    I am with you on Q-Tips! I have tried off brands in the past and I swear they use about half the cotton on the tip as the name brand.

  • Jason B says:

    There are a couple things that I buy name brand every time. They are detergent and tennis shoes.

  • Raquel@Practical Cents says:

    I think some items are definitely worth getting a name brand but only if it’s higher quality. For me I had to go with a brand that stood for quality when I bought my Toyota. Later, I went for a Honda for my husband. They have been very good purchases.

  • new gal says:

    Cheap cutlery is never worth what you pay. You should see the look on people’s faces when I tell them that my husband had all of my chefs knives sharpened for Valentine’s Day. Store brand mac and cheese…never again! Toilet paper; Soviet sandpaper will not enter my home–two ply minimum, thank you. Q-tips…good call.

  • Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says:

    Oh, yes, I’ve gotten peed on my fair share of times too, and the good diapers are totally worth it, although LUVS worked just as good as Pampers for us, and were much cheaper. The generics, though, no way. We are not “name brand people” so to speak, but we will absolutely spend on quality products when it’s worth it. I guess the best example of this is in power tools. Rick’s had to buy some pretty spendy stuff in the last couple of years, such as a chainsaw, and we definitely went name brand with that, and it’s been well worth the spend.

  • Sandra says:

    We buy most of our grocery’s at Aldi, but there is one item I cannot accept copy cats of: NUTELLA. Seriously, no other chocolate spread works for me. That’s pretty much my only 100% brand loyality products.

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach says:

    I have a lot of food brand names I stick to, like Trader Joe’s Mediterranean hummus, Wyman’s frozen wild blueberries, Udi’s gluten free bread. For the most part I’m pretty open though. Oh, and I love Oakley sunglasses!

  • Amy K says:

    My husband and I have different “musts”. He definitely prefer the Q-tips! I insist on Charmin Ultra-soft toilet paper. Bounty select-a-size paper towels (though we’re trying the grocery store brand now, and that is going well so we might convert). John Frieda Brilliant Brunette Moisturizing shampoo and conditioner for me. Head and Shoulders Classic Clean 2-in-1 for him. Pampers Sensitive diapers for the little one, Aveeno skincare products for her, Desitin diaper cream, and Johnson & Johnson shampoo. Dawn dish soap. Grape-nuts cereal. We use All Free & Clear detergent, which I consider name brand while the hubs insists since it’s not Tide it IS off-brand πŸ™‚

    I don’t think of our household as very brand loyal, but now that I list it out… wow!

  • Will Lipovsky, First Quarter Finance says:

    I never buy name-brand product without trying/researching the generic first. When it comes to a lot of products, the generics and name brand are the exact same thing – just different labeling. Generic pain medications legally have to have the exact same ingredients as brand-name alternatives.

    Yeah, that’s right I used brand-name as the ‘alternative’. πŸ™‚

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