Get Ready For An Onslaught Of Food Advertising

Foodmakers are planning to bombard you with advertising to keep you from ditching their carefully groomed brands for some blechy cheapo generics. Pay no attention as they try to re-brand their products as cheap and affordable. Here’s a small preview of what to expect…

From Sara Lee Corp.’s new ad campaign with The Walt Disney Co.’s “High School Musical 3: Senior Year” to Kraft’s new pizza commercials preaching “DiGiornonomics,” consumers should expect to be blitzed by food advertisements in the next year.

Many major food makers are promising boosts to their advertising in the new fiscal year or reporting their spending is up in the most recent one. Their ads seem to be hitting a variety of outlets, including print, television, in-store promotion and the Internet — which marketers say helps them hone in on consumers and get the most bang for their advertising buck.

Analysts say it makes sense, even as these companies grapple with high prices for oil, corn and grains.

Consumers aren’t going to change what they eat as they pull away from restaurants, said Harry Balzer, vice president of consumer research firm the NPD Group, and an expert on American eating patterns. They’re just going to look for bargains, and that can mean changing brands.

“It’s very hard for us to change our behavior. If we like ice cream, we’re going to continue eating ice cream,” he said. “Now the question is going to be what brand you’re going to buy.”

Remember, the Grocery Shrink Ray goes wild over brands. Savvy consumerists know to resist the advertising, and will see this as an opportunity to reaffirm their unending allegiance to the lowest price.

Foodmakers plan big ad campaigns in down economy [AP]
(Photo: GirlReporter)


Edit Your Comment

  1. yungjerry703 says:

    i’m down with crispy hexagon as long as it comes with that jar of name brand peanut butter. really tho more adds than before? is that really possible?

  2. ReidFleming says:

    I have very little brand loyalty and the major exception is Hellman’s mayonnaise. Oh, baby.

    I actually have more loyalty for our cats’ food. They get Science Diet almost exclusively.

    • balthisar says:

      @ReidFleming: Hah! Same for me almost, except it’s Heinz ketchup for me and Pedigree for my dog.

      @nybiker: I used to not clip coupons, until I joined the grocery game. They track all the sales trends and coupons, and tell you when to buy and stock up. Granted, most of the coupons are for crap I don’t normally buy at any price (prepared foods and “mixes”), but when I can get a brand name soup for 10¢ instead of $1.25, then I jump on it. Luckily they also track things in general that don’t need coupons, like meats, fruits, and vegetables, which is what me make our food out of.

    • @ReidFleming: “I actually have more loyalty for our cats’ food. “

      I know, for reals. My Bubbas get the good stuff — IAMS for the morbidly obese for the one, super-specialized hyper-vet kidney diet for the other. :D People who treat their pets like people kind-of freak me out, but I’ll eat beans and rice for months on end before my Bubbas go without their preferred food!

      @nybiker: “So, until I gave up catsup (Ketchup) completely due to all the HFCS”

      I hadn’t eaten ketchup on purpose in YEARS because it was so sweet and blechy, but I got the store-brand organic b/c I’m concerned about my husband’s HCFS intake and only the organic didn’t have HCFS (and he likes ketchup on his ketchup) and OMFG, THAT SHIT IS SOOOOOOOO GOOD. Its top ingredients are “tomatoes” and “vinegar” and sugar is like the second-to-last ingredient, and it’s cane sugar.

      Ketchup is fucking fantastic when it tastes like tart tomatoes instead of red-flavored sugar!

      • nybiker says:

        @Eyebrows McGee: I will keep my eyes open for a non-heinz brand of organic ketchup and give it a try when I go shopping. Thanks.

      • TouchMyMonkey says:

        @Eyebrows McGee: How do you get the cats to not eat the other cats’ food? We have three, and I would really LOVE to be able to do this – soft kitten food for the little one, regular dry for the big muscular one, and diet food for the lardass. Problem is, they ALL love kitten food, but it’s too high in fat for an adult cat, which is how the fat one got that way a couple of years ago.

        • @HurtsSoGood: I find scruff grabbing/spray bottle and separation is the best way. All my cats have different color bowls, and I feed in the same order every feeding. After about a week of me getting them to eat out of a certain bowl, and squirting/tossing them away from the wrong one, even if I feed out of order, they eat out of the right bowl.

        • @HurtsSoGood: “How do you get the cats to not eat the other cats’ food? We have three, and I would really LOVE to be able to do this – soft kitten food for the little one, regular dry for the big muscular one, and diet food for the lardass.”

          For a while, we put one in the bathroom with his food and left the other in the kitchen. Once they got used to eating different foods, we’d just stand over them and give a loud “NO!” if one started trying to get at the other’s food. Now they’re pretty reliable. They’ve always been very particular about who eats out of which bowl, even when they had the same food, so they’re pretty set in their ways that way, too.

          Usually we feed them while one of us is cooking dinner, so we can keep half-an-eye on them to make sure they don’t scarf each other’s food.

          The one with kidney disease isn’t allowed to have anything but special kidney food, but he’s not interested in eating that much anyway, so he eats his (nice, wet, gravy-y) kidney food and leaves the kibble alone. The fat one won’t really be HURT by the kidney food except it’s high calorie, so it’s mostly a matter of grabbing the kidney food when the one stops eating before the fat one can finish it off for desert.

    • daniello says:


      Totally agree on the pet food loyalty. Wish more people understood about feeding pets quality foods. I can put whatever awesome crap I want to into my body (and do regularly, thank you), but until my cat can make her own choices, she gets only the best pet food.

      Aside from that, I’m now more price conscious than I am brand conscious, except for cereal and a few other things, which I purchase pretty much only when they’re on sale.

    • Marshfield says:

      @ReidFleming: Hellman’s mayonnaise My attempts at getting even kraft mayo into our “Best foods” (Hellmans west of the mississippi) home has failed. I grew up on Hellmans in NJ and wife on Best Foods in Seattle. No other mayo tastes the same.

    • sventurata says:

      @ReidFleming: My cat is addicted to Purina Cat Chow (adult weight maintenance), of all brands. I’ve tried fancier foods with no luck. Maybe we need to hide the TV remote before leaving the house in the morning….

    • kbrook says:

      @ReidFleming: I’m loyal to Purina Naturals for the cats – the nutritional value is one of the best in our price range (our price range does not include Science Diet, I’m afraid).

      I’m loyal to Jiff peanut butter (the real stuff, not the reduced fat crap), Lay’s chips (crisps), Coke, goldfish crackers (I don’t care if they’re shapey, dammit!) and… Scheulers Barscheeze (or something). It’s a cheddar spread with horseradish – amazing on Town House crackers or a roast beef sandwich.

    • @ReidFleming:
      My method for shopping for dog food is to look for the lowest price per pound.

  3. mikey07840 says:

    I used to also be hooked on Hellmans and Heinz Ketchup. Now I buy the store brands… Shop Rite and Weis… whichever is on sale!

  4. zigziggityzoo says:

    So they’re downsizing their product, and spending the savings on the biggest food-centric ad blitz evar?

    Thanks a lot for taking my extra ounces of bounces and wasting them on commercials.

    • nybiker says:

      @zigziggityzoo: I stopped patronizing companies that waste money on naming rights for stadiums and college bowl games and similar uselessness.

      So, until I gave up catsup (Ketchup) completely due to all the HFCS, I had stopped buying the Heinz version and got the BJ’s (warehouse brand) version.

      It’s just my way of stickin’ it to ’em. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t, but I feel better about my choices.

      • VA_White says:

        @nybiker: I can’t live without ketchup so I buy Heinz organic. No HFCS in that kind.

        I don’t buy many foods with a brand – no cereal, no frozen foods, no canned soups, no crackers, no chips, very few cleaning products, and whatever is left I am very picky about quality, less picky about getting a well-known brand.

        I’m an advertiser’s nightmare because the more I see ads for a product, the more it makes me want to avoid it.

        • nybiker says:

          @VA_White: Yeah, I agree with you about ignoring virtually all advertising. I guess I stick to what’s worked over the years. I’m kinda a Joe Friday guy when it comes to commercials. Again, for the younger folk, check out the description of the tv show Dragnet for what I am referring to.

          There are some things that name brands are better. Case in point: Kraft Singles. I still rememeber my father bringing home the store brand when things were tough for us in the ’70s. We told ’em we rather go without any cheese slices if it meant no Kraft Singles. And for all I know, maybe Heinz Ketchup was made better back then, because I recall the same problem with the store brands. Who read labels at that time? Besides, the labels didn’t have all the stuff on it anyway.

          • VA_White says:

            @nybiker: Oh gosh. I’m with you on the Kraft Singles. My mom bought generic ones once and they were asstastic.

            Nowadays I normally buy real cheese from the deli but when it starts to get cold, I crave a good grilled cheese sandwich and some hot tomato soup. The soup I buy at Trader Joes but the cheese has to be Kraft singles. I can’t help myself. :)

            • pecan 3.14159265 says:

              @VA_White: I just bought Kraft Singles today because I had a $1 off coupon and buying 24 slices of Kraft was the same price as 24 slices of generic store brand (which actually taste pretty good) – but having Kraft on my burger tonight, I don’t know if it made a difference. It was a really good burger, but I think that was the Lawry’s seasoned salt and not the generic magical orange salt substance that the stores hawk as being “like” Old Bay or Lawry’s.

              I have, however, gotten used to good old tap water. We haven’t purchased bottled water in a while, and tap with a lot of ice is how I quench thirst now.

              Ironically, even after reading the post on Tropicana juice, I bought Tropicana because it was $2/6. And the other juices weren’t on sale, and were close to $3.50.

      • @nybiker: @VA_White: Have either of you seen the newest commercials put out by the corn council. I swear in the first one, the guy was going to say, “make you fat” and she was going to punch him.

        Does anyone remember the days when Generic had it’s own aisle in the supermarket filled with white labeled cans and red and black text?

        • British Benzene says:

          @Git Em SteveDave is starlost: Just showed my wife those (she’s a writer who specializes on “green issues and health”), now I have to take her to the hospital for either a stroke or a sudden outbreak of Tourette’s syndrome.


        • Marshfield says:

          @Git Em SteveDave is starlost: Generic had it’s own aisle in the supermarket filled with white labeled cans and red and black text? I sure do. The Carter depression back in the 80’s. It’s pretty much like that today except the store brands are the “generics”. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see them come back, either if the economy gets worse.

          • DerangedRoleModel says:

            @Marshfield: Stop & Shop and both Giants introduced a no frills (Guaranteed Value) line to go with the rest of their private label stuff.

            As far as grocery stores go, S&S’s store brand is pretty extensive (and also pretty good). They’re one of the better stores around (that’s not Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods) when it comes to organic food.

        • nybiker says:

          @Git Em SteveDave is starlost: Until you posted those 2, I hadn’t seen them. But then again, I am old-school. I use a vcr to zip past the commercials. I record everything I watch. O/T: Yeah, I know about DVR’s, but I can’t afford to go that route right now.

        • @Git Em SteveDave:
          Black text on yellow backgrounds.

          • veronykah says:

            @thisisasignin: Totally remember that, and the black on white too. My SUPER cheap grandparents loved to buy all the generic stuff like that in the 80s. When my grandfather died they found money all over the house. Guess since I didn’t have to grow up eating it, it worked out for me.
            No one on that side of my family is very slim OR very healthy though.

        • HogwartsAlum says:

          @Git Em SteveDave is starlost:

          I just saw that corn syrup thing the other day for the first time. I laughed my ass off and the first thing I thought of was “I bet this pops up on Consumerist!”

        • BuddhaLite says:

          @Git Em SteveDave is starlost:

          I started seeing those commercials this weekend. To me seeing HFCS is just a reminder that the container I’m looking at is heavily processed and I shouldn’t be eating it anyway.

  5. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I don’t have much in the way of brand loyalty either, though I shop by what is healthier and more cost effective. So if they want to keep me as a customer, they should lower prices and make their food healthier, which is something that would benefit everyone whether they were loyal to a brand or not.

    I clipped a lot of coupons from the Sunday paper tonight, and I got a lot of good things. Is there a trend in making people buy multiples of something just to get 30 cents off? I’m seeing it a lot, and it makes it kind of pointless since the only savings you’ll see off buying 4 of something is less than 10 cents each item.

  6. henrygates says:

    OR they could not spend millions on advertising and just lower their prices to compete with the generics.

  7. firestarsolo says:

    Is that guy’s name really Harry Balzer? Lol.

    If I see a brand that suffers from the grocery store shrink ray, I simply stop buying it. I realize they need to pad their profits a bit in the crappy economy, but a change in taste is easy when money is involved. For example, why pay $5.99 for a medium-sized DiGiornio pizza when “Tony’s Pizzas” sell for $1.99 and are BIGGER? Riddle me this. . .

    • CumaeanSibyl says:

      @firestarsolo: Because Tony’s Pizzas taste like Saltine crackers with ketchup and American cheese?

      @ReidFleming: Yeah, expensive pet food is one of those things that’s actually worth it — makes the difference between “chicken” and “chicken byproduct meal,” which I think translates to “discarded grain husks we used to line the bottom of a henhouse.”

      • veronykah says:

        @CumaeanSibyl: Never understood that, why not just feed your dog or cat CHICKEN instead of “stuff we made from chicken and a bunch of other stuff to make it cheap and shelf stable”? My dog has been eating RAW for over 4 years and is ridiculously healthy. Also, its pretty great to be able to go to the grocery store and get him food AND know there isn’t some weird by-products, lead or melamine in his food. Its all human quality.
        As for store brand, I LOVE me some Target brand anything [except the “tricuits” not good…].
        All the cereals, the bread, the meals in a box are so yummy. I miss Stop & Shop, their store brand was really good too.
        If I ever made it to whole foods I’d buy the everyday 365, all of those have been quite good too.
        I usually just shop at the Mexican market, Chinese market, Trader Joes and Fresh and Easy. Its ALWAYS cheap at those places. Ah, big city livin’.
        I guess I also make a lot of food from scratch so I don’t buy a lot of name brand stuff. At some point, I realized homemade food is just SO much better than something frozen, canned or boxed. That and I’m poor.

        • radiochief says:

          @veronykah: @DerangedRoleModel:

          Stop&Shop’s private label is nowhere near extensive as it once used to be (10 years ago). Their organic and ‘premium’ private label stuff is very nice. And their GV Private label line is nothing but a retread of their old SunGlory line of products.

          After Royal Ahold bought them they gutted the S&S private label line: e.g. killed many locally made favorites, replace majority of S&S products with RA’s US holding formulations and closed down the QC lab.

      • sinfonian94 says:

        Actually, byproducts can (and do in the premium foods) include Organ meats (much higher in nutrients that breast, etc.) that people wouldn’t eat because we don’t find it aesthetically pleasing. Not all byproducts are bad, regardless of what marketing reps may say. Science Diet does use a byproduct meal, but does so as it allows them to more easily control a precise balance of nutrients in their foods. They also test every truckload of ingredients to make sure it meets their standards, or they turn the whole truck away. And for full disclosure, I do happen to work part time for Hill’s. However, I wouldn’t do so if I didn’t believe in the product.

    • Kia says:

      @firestarsolo: Because Digiorno pizzas are absolutely delicious and pretty much one of the only freezer pizzas worth buying?

  8. says:

    instead of putting all this money into advertising, they should put this money into making their factories use more resourceful forms of energy….add some VALUE into their products. sun chips charging $4 a bag? well their factories are now solar powered…so i think it’s worth it. i’m sure the price will drop a little once they get back the money they put into their investment (them panels ain’t cheap!) other companies should follow suit.

  9. y2julio says:

    Pfft, I’m quite happy with my Malt-O-Meal cereals and Tropical Fantasy sodas. Thank you very much!

    • junkmail says:

      @y2julio: Seriously. I actually bought a box of Apple Jacks the other day. Couldn’t even finish it… ZERO flavor. While Malt-O-Meal may not be the healthiest, (is ANY cereal, beside Kashi or whatever???), my daughters and I don’t eat anything else. And a couple of bucks for a pickup-sized bag? Yeah, sign me up.

      • y2julio says:

        @junkmail: Yup, they are pretty good compared to their “brand name” counterparts, plus they are cheaper. Win-Win for me :)

      • picardia says:

        @junkmail: I have switched to Kashi cereal exclusively — not only is it healthier, but I have come to prefer to the taste to the solid-sugar “big brands.”

        Other than that, I have very little brand loyalty. I am trying to make the switch to preparing more of my food from scratch, and when you cook and season stuff yourself, it makes very little difference whether the tomato sauce/canned corn/etc. is brand or generic. The only thing keeping me from buying more generics is the fact that my local grocery doesn’t stock that many.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          @picardia: How do you eat Kashi? Is there some kind of jedi mind trick to swallowing their crunchy oat bars and clusters? I know it’s healthier, but I can’t actually get it to taste good. And I’m not a sugary cereals person either.

        • orlo says:

          @picardia: Kashi is owned by Kellogg’s–not exactly a small brand. If you’re trying to eat healthier I would start with cooking your own cereal. Much cheaper and not less sugar, no sugar. And brand truly doesn’t matter.

          Switching to generic brands won’t save that much money. Generics too are competing with the name-brands to deliver less product at lower quality at higher prices.

          • LibraryGeek says:

            @orlo: where do I learn to cook my own cold cereal? Or are you just referring to oatmeal, cream of wheat, cream of rice etc?

  10. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Looks like the major food companies are getting desperate. Instead of wasting money on irritating and foolish ads, try lowering the price..or reversing the grocery shrink ray.

    Hey..big food guys…if your product is that much better than a store brand, people will buy it. If it’s not, tough luck. So far, I’ve found very few items that tasted significantly better than the store items to justify spending twice as much money.

  11. balthisar says:

    Oh, meant to add, I only ever really see commercials when I’m on vacation, where I don’t have my MythTV network with me!

    On the other hand, since I’ve subscribed to the paper and started clipping coupons, I admit to being exposed to the advertising there. Hey! Wait! Does secretly have funding from all of the nation’s dying newspapers?

    • nybiker says:

      @balthisar: When you say “joined”, does that mean there’s an annual fee of some sort or can one just sign up? Yeah, I guess I could go to the website and see, but I figured if you (or someone else) answered, it would be quicker.

      Thanks for the heads-up. If it’s a freebie, then I’ll give it a whirl.

  12. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I know a guy who will do anything to save money…if he got to work and the sandwich he brought for lunch is moldy, he’d probably rather pick off the pieces that are infested and eat the rest rather than go buy something from the deli. It’s like he’d rather just eat something that might be infested with mold than to spend a few dollars on something that probably won’t cause stomach pain.

    That story was to illustrate the fact that to some people, being cheap is the only way to be, come hell, high water or possible food poisoning.

  13. The_IT_Crone says:

    The logic eludes me: spend even MORE money on advertising to compete with generic brands who do no advertising at all, and whom are apparently taking a significant chunk of sales.

    How about cutting advertising to cut costs to bring the price down (at least closer) to the generic level?

    • BiZarRroBALlmeR says:

      @The_IT_Crone: Old American business habits are hard to break.
      I need to try some generic cereals. Tried Fruit Rings before and whadda mistake.
      I;ll try something a little more plain.

  14. krispykrink says:

    Funny that they mention Ice Cream, as that’s the only pre-processed packaged food item I buy every once in a while. And good luck trying to pry me away from Ben & Jerry’s, it ain’t gonna happen.

    Oh, and beer. The same beer for the last 20+ years, Guinness. No body’s gonna pry me away from that either.

    Local butcher + farmer’s market = I never go to Safeway.

  15. mac-phisto says:

    here’s a rash idea…stop wasting money on blitz advertising & make your products more affordable so it can compete with off-brands. i know, i know – it sounds crazy, but come on. the cereal boxes have gotten so freakin small lately that “family size” now means “feeds entire family 1 serving of breakfast”.

    i mean, let’s get real here. in many cases, you make a better product. you have generations of loyal consumers. why do you have to try so hard? the fact is, the concept of “brand importance” has changed. having a positive image of your brand will guarantee loyalty, but no longer will it command the steep mark-ups it once did. more sales or more money per unit sale – your choice, but in this economy, you can’t have both.

  16. Chasing lowest price makes you susceptible to shrinking product packaging.

    Look for the best value (meaning the lowest cost per unit) for the quantity you are comfortable buying and can reasonably consume.

  17. bohemian says:

    If a company wants me to buy something quit loading it full of HFCS and thirty or so additives. I stopped buying most processed foods because they are horrible from a nutrition standpoint.

    We had been buying mayo from Sams since a giant bucket was about $5. I looked at the ingredient list and corn syrup was pretty high up there. Mayo does not need corn syrup. I looked at the Kraft with olive oil. It was about $5 for a small jar and still had all sorts of mystery junk in it. So I am either going to make Mayo when we really need to have it or drop coin on a jar of Hellmens. I had the same experience with Ketchup. I don’t use it very often but did and it tasted like slightly tart corn syrup. So that one we will probably end up buying the organic and just using less.

    What makes me annoyed is now the foods that I bought as typical routine foods in the 80’s are now the “premium” foods today. I have to pay a premium now to not have my food full of unneeded crap and corn syrup.

  18. Marshfield says:

    Speaking of Ice Cream, Bryers is pretty good value at Wal-Mart, like $2.50 for 1.5 qts. Way less than grocery stores.

    If you’re able to shop at walmart… if you are willing to shop there…

  19. BeeBoo says:

    I grew up in a Kraft mayo house, but I always liked Hellman’s better. But I swear that some of the store brands around here must be made by Hellman’s–I can’t tell the difference.

    Find a store brand that has the same color and texture as Hellmans, and check to see that the ingredients are identical or almost so–just look at the jar–and do a blind taste test. If you don’t like it, you’re out $1.50 to $2.00 if you get it on sale and you can use it for a salad to take to a pot-luck. If you like it, well, you’re saving 1/2 to 2/3 every jar.

  20. god_forbids says:

    I haven’t seen any comments yet which recognize the fact that advertising is relative. The only reason the big cereal companies have to ramp up advertising is because their competitors are (they hardly consider the generics competitors).

    • doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

      @god_forbids: Worried about competition? Leave the quality in the products.
      How many of these brand name products could they just quit advertising for (or cut it waaaay back) and you’d still buy them?

      • god_forbids says:

        @doctor_cos: I think you will agree with me that there is hardly such a thing as ‘differentiating qualities’ among breakfast cereals. Children’s cereals are differentiated by the amounts of sugar and food coloring, ‘adult’ cereals by the number of thin women and swoopy logos in their commercials.

        These are products solely of marketing and mascot characters. Without 10 million product views per day during cartoons and Lifetime shows they are nothing. The premium they charge over the generics also would evaporate. I believe the case is similar across most consumer food products. There is simply no “quality” to be found, even if one were in the mood to pay for it.

        This is one reason for the smashing success of Starbucks, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods – they found ways to differentiate their products (often costlessly/meaninglessly) so they can charge a premium. It is also why your local food co-op or Down to Earth will not grow so large, as REAL organics, etc. cost more than people are willing to pay for.

  21. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Even the foods that are not ‘premium’ are commanding a premium price nowadays.
    Why is store-brand pasta now more expensive as ‘name brand’ used to be?
    Is this due in part to this country’s arrogance around corn and ethanol…”the hell with starving kids in Africa, I need to fill up the FlexFuel Hummer.”

    Publix branded soda FTW.

  22. jacques says:

    I’m shocked and disappointed in the rise in price of pasta. $1.69 for a box that was 99¢ last year, but can save whole 30¢ if I use my affinity card. Whoopie. And I’ve not seen a decent cheap no-name pasta for cheaper per weight.

    That $75 tub of goop Gizmodo had on last week is looking better each day…

  23. nsv says:

    If you are what you eat, then isn’t everything “Essentially You”?

  24. VA_White says:

    The grocery game costs money. You subscribe to lists for the grocery stores in your area; they advise you based on ads and coupons that week, which items to stock up on, which ones to use coupons for, and which ones to wait to buy until next time.

    If you are a dedicated coupon clipper, you can save way more than you spend on the membership fee. I know a lot of women who belong. I tried their free trial but I had to manually calculate in the discounts from the military commissary so it wasn’t worth the hassle to me. Plus a lot of the deals are for foods I never buy. I don’t buy salad mix or Campbell’s soup or envelopes of instant crap. There is never a super triple coupon deal for the stuff I buy so I canceled after the trial period was up.

    • nybiker says:

      @VA_White: Thanks. For a buck, I can give the 28-day trial it a try. At least they had the store I do most of my shopping in.

    • balthisar says:


      If you are a dedicated coupon clipper, you can save way more than you spend on the membership fee.

      You don’t really need to be a dedicated coupon clipper. For most food that we consume, coupons don’t exist (as I said in another post, meats, fruits, and veggies). But the list easily saves the meager cost on just those items. If you do clip coupons for crappy pre-made food (Hamburger Helper, ready-to-bake cookies) instead of making good food yourself cheaper, then you’ll get a larger savings (but if you buy pasta, spices, seasonings, and baking ingredients instead of that stuff, you’ll save more money even without the list). Of course, for pharmacy/hygiene items, the coupons paired with the list really are valuable (says me, who until recently disdained all the “stupid” coupon shoppers and sale hunters — it really is that significant).

      I know a lot of women who belong.

      Allow me to introduce myself as a man who belongs. Honestly, it appeals to my sporting nature as much as my cheap nature.

      Plus a lot of the deals are for foods I never buy. I don’t buy salad mix or Campbell’s soup or envelopes of instant crap. There is never a super triple coupon deal for the stuff I buy so I canceled after the trial period was up.

      Yeah, I can’t blame you. The commisaries were always the best places to buy, period. And with the big huge coupon bins at every entrance, you didn’t even have to bother hunting for coupons (I suppose, like I said, I’d always thought they were stupid). See above for my similar feelings on the pre-made stuff ;-)

  25. Altdotweb says:

    I’ve found that generics are hit-and-miss when it comes to comparative taste and quality.

    Malt-o-meal compares well to Kellogs.
    FMV cheese does not compare well to Kraft.

    The majors have to put ad money into packaging and not advertising to offset the preferential placement that generics are getting from their hosts. Quality has a cost.

  26. dragonfire81 says:

    From a marketing standpoint the logic of the food companies is this:

    Economic times are tough, people are buying generics more and costing us money, so we need convince people that our products are BETTER QUALITY than generics so they’ll buy our brand name stuff.

    I’d rather see the money go to lowering prices or eliminating the grocery shrink ray.

  27. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Consumerist! Guaranteed almost no face meat!

  28. AlphaWolf says:

    Since the cat food discussion came up here a few times: If you have heard of the cat food brand, it probably is not that good. Pet food is all marketing, they are spraying meat grease on grain for God’s sake and (fake) advertising wholesome foods. Cats do not need a grain diet.

    Try Artemis, Solid Gold, or Natural Balance if you want decent dry cat food. Instead of the over-hyped Science Diet, Iams, and Nutro (the worst) or cheaper brands. You will pay about the same, but the food quality is much, much higher. Your cat will be healthier and happier. I speak from experience. It took me a long time to figure this out, and it hurt my cats.

    • @AlphaWolf: I use Purina one, where the first ingerdiant is meat. One of my Ex’s is a animal person, and told me to switch over to it. I have two chubby(not fat) cats, and one happy Aussie.

      @thisisasignin: Ours were black,red,and white. I swear I had a “generic” pack of nylons I found in the bottom under the drawers of one of my bedroom set cabinets. I wish I could find them now and scan them.

  29. glorpy says:

    Wegmans store brand is almost always better and cheaper than their name brand equivalents and sometimes there aren’t name brand equivalents. I’m not interested in eating the cheapest of the cheap (quality does count for something), but I’m not going to buy a brand for the sake of buying the brand.

    Of course, AdBlock (selectively unapplied for sites I like and trust) and not watching TV help reduce my commercial exposure anyway.

    • pax says:

      @glorpy: How I miss Wegmans! Their store brands were always excellent–frozen pizza, deli meats, pasta sauces, the list goes on and on. Whenever I’m back in Pennsylvania, I go to Wegmans and stock up on nonperishables.

      Whoever mentioned Stop-n-Shop’s store brands are also right on the money. Their organics are priced about the same as “regular” products and are just as good–I recommend the salsa and hummus highly.

  30. b612markt says:

    My loyalty is more to Costco. I do actually trust them to make the big decisions for me. One brand of eggs – whatever. One brand of OJ – whatever. I spent about a year comparing my shopping habits at Costco versus Jewel (local grocery store in Chicago) and Costco was a better value every time.

  31. rachmanut says:

    they can advertise all they want, they’ll never get me to switch from the far superior Ralph’s brand Crispy Hexagrains to Crispix. I bet those Crispy Hexagons don’t rate either. Hexagrains FTW!

  32. StoicJim says:

    All my life I my brand of choice was Kellog’s Corn Flakes. This last go around I purchased the generic Safeway corn flakes and am quite pleased with the flavor. Saved a buck, too.

  33. TeraGram says:

    Here’s a little tactic some of you need to hear: TRY OTHER BRANDS. Hellman’s is good, but you know what? Trader Joe’s mayo is just as good and in some respects better. Really!

    I have few brand loyalties and I compound my egregious slap in the face to The American Way by buying very little premade and processed foods, but those few things that I do buy (condiments, for example) I’m willing to try another brand. My secret weapon? I hold onto my receipts. I use a magnet and stick them on the fridge.

    Then, if a product really blows, I take it back from whence it came and get a refund.

  34. kbrook says:

    Oh, yeah, we keep getting bones in our canned tuna. The remainder is going back to Meijer and we’re getting replacements and our money back. I love tuna casserole, but the thought of another bone… makes me shudder.

  35. Justifan says:

    think it was consumer reports that tested cereals?
    malt o meal type bag cereals are rated quite decent actually.

  36. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Malt-O-Meal cereals are quite decent IMHO…and you can get a 2 pound bag at Hell-Mart for under $5. Kellogg’s wants $3 or $4 a box for about a quarter of the product.

    Occasionally I find things that don’t measure up, so I buy the national brand. The moral is..pick your battles. If you really like the taste of a name brand or it’s something you really enjoy..spend the money. Buy generics for the stuff you really don’t care about and can’t tell the difference. You’ll still save a whole fistful of $$$$.

  37. Hobbes-Tiger says:

    I used to have brand-loyalty to certain foods, but the price difference between store brand rice and other things against my old brand was enough to forget that.

    If something is cheaper as a store brand, I try it at least once and if the difference isn’t noticeable I keep buying it. Only things I don’t change brand loyalty on are probably Quaker Oatmeal, Hellmann’s mayonnaise, Horizon organic milk because it’s tastes better than any other milk I’ve tried so far, Breyer’s ice cream, Smucker’s jelly and the cat’s food, Natural Ultramix. Most of these brands are from childhood and the cat food after looking at ingredients of all the possible cat foods, so commercials aren’t needed in my case. If people are buying cheaper brands I don’t commercials will sway them.

    • nsv says:

      @Hobbes-Tiger: You have a brand loyalty to Breyers? The last time I made the mistake of buying their ice cream was the last time that vile stuff will ever come into my home. It was sickeningly sweet. I ended up throwing it away. And their claim of “all natural” used to be genuine, now it includes all kinds of garbage that I don’t see growing on plants or coming out of cows.

      I can’t give any examples because I went to their website for ingredient lists, and while I did get chirping birds and barking dogs, none of the Flash stuff worked for me.

  38. DamThatRiver says:

    All the High School Musical promotions in the world won’t get any brand loyalty from me.

  39. Triborough says:

    Yet another reason to shop at Trader Joe’s and save money!
    I can get all the stuff to make pizza there (including the dough). They have good house brand cereal at a good price.
    Anyone who gives into ads is an idiot.

  40. DashTheHand says:

    The only brand loyalty I have is for the brand of cottage cheese from Giant…which in itself is a store brand and the cheapest already. Everything else basically tastes the same that you can buy, with the possible exception of some generic sodas.

  41. incognit000 says:

    I used to buy name brand stuff. It tasted like crap.

    So I switched to generics. It still tasted like crap, but cost a lot less.

    My guess is that generics and name-brands would cost about the same were it not for the fact that name-brands spend so much on advertising.

  42. Eilonwynn says:

    One thing I suggest is making sure that the ingredients AS WELL AS the nutritional information is similar between generics and brand names. I’ve found that generic prepackaged stuff tends to contain WAY more sodium, and more preservatives (the majority of which I’m allergic to anyways) than the name-brands.

  43. vladthepaler says:

    If they cut advertising, they could lower their prices, and then people would buy their products. Sigh.

  44. samurailynn says:

    In the past 8 years I’ve spent less than a year living in a household with cable television. I don’t read newspapers (internet anyone?) and I don’t think I’ve seen any advertising for food in a very long time. I kind of forgot that it existed. I choose which brand to purchase by looking at the grocery store to see which one is the best cost. If I get a brand that tastes horrible, I remember not to buy it in the future. More often than not, it’s a name brand that tastes horrible and a store brand that tastes better.

  45. TACP says:

    I bought some Crispy Hexagons at Food Lion last year. They’re pretty good.

  46. parad0x360 says:

    Here’s an idea that im sure has been said above already…

    Instead of spending all this money advertising, use it to offset the increase in foods prices. Put the food back to the original price and size and watch as consumers flock to your now larger and cheaper boxes!


  47. From someone who does the advertising for some of those giant brands out there, here is what I say:

    Use your coupons. There won’t be any price reductions; the ingredients, transport costs, etc. are too expensive these days for us to do that. Sorry for trying to pretend we’re a good deal or “green” products. The stupid high-ups are calling those shots. I think it’s a dumb idea.

    Most of us are actually cutting our advertising/marketing budgets because of the crap economy. Just realize that we can’t stop advertising all together as some commenters have suggested, the advertising helps sell product and often (or always in the case of some giant corporations) yields a decent ROI.

    Me, personally, I buy generic unless there really is a difference and I prefer the brand name product (or I have a coupon). But don’t tell my bosses that!

  48. boxjockey68 says:

    huh, more ads ah? I wonder if we can just do aways with any type of radio or tv programming & make it ALL ads! All ads, all day long….
    Personally, I might actually be tempted into buying that name brand gunk say.. if the prices were lower??!!