For the Lord’s sake, please, stop the damn idiocy

Supermarkets are cashing in by selling standard own-label products that are apparently identical to their value range.
An investigation found no difference in the ingredients or nutrition between the two price tiers across a range of products.
Honey, corned beef and UHT milk were all affected – while there was also no meaningful difference in taste between standard and value packs of mild cheddar.
The only way to tell the lines apart was the packaging – and the fact that the price of standard lines is much higher. A probe by Channel 4’s Supershoppers programme found in some cases the standard and value products come from the same factory.

It’s not that the medium stuff is more expensive, it’s that the cheap stuff is cheaper.

Sure, it’s price discrimination, market segmentation. But they do it by making the labels on the cheap stuff garish – and equally, obvious to all that someone is buying the cheap stuff. Those who care more about money than appearances thus get the deals.

This is something we wish to complain about, is it?

37 comments on “For the Lord’s sake, please, stop the damn idiocy

  1. Well, obviously. My son loves Shreddies. Tescos do (or did), three types ; really cheap, which are inedible, own brand and Branded. The latter two are identical as far as I can tell. It wouldn’t surprise me if it came out of the same machine.

    More to the point, why should I subsidise the stupid ? It’s like people complaining recently that they’ve continued their phone contract (with its “free phone” part) after the phone has been paid off. I think it’s great, it allows those of us with a brain who don’t think we’re getting a “free phone” to do better deals. Same thing with electricity.

    These demands for equality won’t reduce everyone to the cheapest tariff ; they put everyone on a middling one.

  2. “Tescos do (or did), three types ; really cheap, which are inedible, own brand and Branded. The latter two are identical as far as I can tell. It wouldn’t surprise me if it came out of the same machine.”

    I agree with the above. The cheap lines are just not that nice.

    If branded and cheaper own-branded stuff often are the same it used to be cos the branded companies used to make the own-branded for the supermarket chain. Don’t know if they still do that.

    Kwik-Save used to sell tins of “economy” Orange pop for 12p. But it was a foul chemical tasting mess.

    However their “own brand” orange juice was as good as the market leaders at about half the price.

  3. They can brand how many times they want if they have the right to do so (a right usually purchased).
    And of course the content is the same – the difference is in the packaging, not the content.

    So cheap brand offered cheap, standard brand offered standard – perfectly legal to have different looking items at different prices.

    People want to buy. They choose something other than the cheap brand then the supermarket benefits. They are not being offered inferior, they are being offered standard with a different look.

  4. Food tastes better when we see it coming from nicer packaging. The trick therefore is to keep the box of brand-name Shreddies, but when empty, replace the bag inside with a “value” bag. For bonus points, don’t let the kids catch you doing this.

  5. But this was known decades ago.

    Also, it’s known that a lot of Aldi and Lidl products are actually premium products put in Aldi packaging. The trick is discovering which.

    Why the outrage?

  6. “The trick is discovering which.”

    I think there’s a business proposition there, for an app available for some trivial subscription (€1 a year perhaps) with information provided by customers.

  7. ‘An investigation found no difference’

    ‘A probe by Channel 4’s Supershoppers programme’

    Was it an investigation or a probe?

    “Well yes but i don’ts see why its not fair game to pull back the curtain to reveal the wizard.”

    In 10th grade. Government schools don’t teach people where stuff comes from?

  8. I have a friend who works for one of the giant American consumer goods companies and they make own-brand products for supermarkets as well as their own stuff. Whether they are the same or worse quality than their branded stuff depends on what price point the supermarkets have instructed them to meet. They’d rather not do this, but supermarket brands are killing them in some product lines so they might as well get in on the act.

    Kellogg’s rather famously don’t make cereal for anyone else, though.

  9. “Also, it’s known that a lot of Aldi and Lidl products are actually premium products put in Aldi packaging. The trick is discovering which.”

    I’m convinced that Aldi’s own brand cake range (Holly Lane I think) is Mr Kipling in disguise. The actual cakes are virtually identical.

    Some of their premium cheese is very good as well. I’m eating their 18 month matured Somerset cheddar like its going out of fashion…..

  10. The good Lidl stuff is really good but the rest is crap. It does seem quite random as to which is which. They also rotate the offerings in shop which means just as you find it, they no longer have it. Mind you, if you remember it, it comes back in 6-12 months anyway.

  11. 40 years ago, I had a friend who supervised a tomato packing plant. He monitored production. When a run was about complete, he’d go in the office and get labels for the next batch of production.

    Quite literally, the difference in brands was the labels applied to the cans. Nothing but the label changed when the next brand was produced. Store brands, premium brands . . . it was all the same.

  12. How stupid are people becoming that they can’t work it out themselves?

    I buy Sainsbury’s el cheapo peanut butter because it tastes ok. I don’t buy their el cheapo coke because it tastes shyte.

    I don’t need channel 4 or a consumer watchdog to work it out for me.

  13. “We’ve found Aldi stuff pretty good except the light bulbs which were rubbish”

    Home Bargains do a range of LED light bulbs (bayonet and screw in) that are very reasonably priced, and so far seem to last pretty well. Certainly produce a lot more light than those awful compact florescent things, and very cheap to run too. Look just like the old incandescent bulbs.

  14. Or label the more expensive stuff as ‘environmentally friendly – no animals were harmed in producing this product – and it is fair trade – with no child labor.’

    We know people will pay for non content.

  15. Supermarkets are cashing in by selling standard own-label products that are apparently identical to their value range.
    An investigation found no difference in the ingredients or nutrition between the two price tiers across a range of products.

    One wonders if the makers of this programme were sipping bottled water while discussing it, and not noticing the irony.

  16. Value and Finest often used to differ only in salt content, with the premium product having more. Maybe, since the govt made people more aware of salt a few years ago, that difference had vanished.

  17. @AndrewC, November 25, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    How stupid are people becoming that they can’t work it out themselves?

    I buy Sainsbury’s el cheapo peanut butter because it tastes ok. I don’t buy their el cheapo coke because it tastes shyte.

    I don’t need channel 4 or a consumer watchdog to work it out for me.

    +1

    I try the Value products, some are OK, some dire. Eg. Tesco Value peanut butter tastes ok, as does their value veg soup.

    I don’t need Nanny State, MSM or a consumer watchdog to work it out for me.

    .
    Regarding Ingredients, C4 Corned Beef – cheapo range often uses poor quality, MRM and offcuts.

    .
    Same factory means nothing these days. Most UK own-label Meat Pies are made in same factory, each to retailers’ recipe. Changing ingredients is trivial in automated production.

  18. There have been brands that while looking the same are materially different.
    The difference being literally a couple of kg of a single ingredient swapped for more of another ingredient so that they can claim their product is different.

    These days even small sellers can get a big brand packaged as their own brand. My minimum order quantity works out as about £800. If I go for larger quantities the price per unit becomes cheaper – an item that retails for £35 I can buy for about £8 if using own branding rather than £12 if using theirs.

  19. Isn’t part of the difference reliability of supply? You pay extra to know which ones are good without having to test each time. You know the better brands will always be available.

    One reason I pay extra for Dell, knowing full well the mechanics are the same in a cheaper brand, is reliability of parts, service etc.

  20. The best peanut butter I have found is Morrison’s 100% Peanuts, nothing added, nothing taken away — I add the salt myself whilst stirring in the oil on top. It’s half the price of other premium ‘nowt but nuts’ brands, and is not, unlike some brands with fancy prices and ‘organic’ sounding names, adulterated with palm oil.

  21. I used to work in Tesco as a teenager in the 80s. Tesco peanut butter and Sun-Pat were identical, right down to the jar. Even the labels were the same size, just with different printing. They were clearly the same product, made in the same plant. And yet people would buy the branded product for a 30 or 40% markup. To point out how they were getting ripped off would have provoked hostility rather than gratitude.

  22. I don’t need channel 4 or a consumer watchdog to work it out for me.

    Yes you do, otherwise lots of worthy middle-class people won’t have a well-paid job.

  23. @Chester
    Dell used to have a premium (albeit price competitive) brand, but their quality control has slid to be on a par with everyone else’s.

    I’m talking about consumer products – if you’re buying 5-digits of units a year, that’s a different marketplace (one I’m no longer in).

  24. I live round the corner from a large co-op and have shopped there for 20 years. To my surprise I can now remember whether I like their own-brand version of a few hundred different products.

  25. “Isn’t part of the difference reliability of supply? You pay extra to know which ones are good without having to test each time. You know the better brands will always be available.

    One reason I pay extra for Dell, knowing full well the mechanics are the same in a cheaper brand, is reliability of parts, service etc.”

    I think it depends on the costs of the test. You can buy a bottle of Waitrose cola for £1. If you don’t like it, you’ve lost £1. If you do, you are saving over 50p a bottle over Pepsi for years.

    With a laptop you might lose £400 and your gain is £100 every few years. It’s different risk/reward ratio.

  26. I buy Brand X computers.

    Not as brash as it seems. I have been dealing with a local computer maintenance company for over 10 years. I trust them with my wallet.

    Last 3 computers my son and I bought, we went to them and spec’ed out what we needed. They designed and built what we wanted, choosing from the best components then available. Or, in a few cases, components my son specified.

    Seriously, buying somebody’s boxed up computer is not the way to do it anymore.

  27. Note also that having the local company build my computers, they feel ownership of any problems I have.

    We can all buy components and put them together; I consider it worth the money to pay experienced people to handle it.

  28. @rob “One wonders if the makers of this programme were sipping bottled water while discussing it, and not noticing the irony.”

    Reminds me of the Penn and Teller “Bullsh*t” show where they have a fancy water menu with all kinds of nonsense in it, which they get (not directly obviously) the guests to try and comment on. All of it is straight from the tap, of course.

    Another favourite was where someone got a bunch of Apple Fanboys to praise the new featues of the iPhone 6S (not sure which) and how much nier it was than the iPhone 6 … it was an iPhone 6.

  29. @Chris Miller, November 26, 2017 at 9:36 am

    “…I’m talking about consumer [PC] products…”

    Agree, I always insist clients etc purchase Business PCs, eg Lenovo Thinkxxx

    Quality, warranty (next day, on site), Tech-doc and ease of replace/upgrade components far outweighs any extra cost.

  30. “Quality, warranty (next day, on site), Tech-doc and ease of replace/upgrade components far outweighs any extra cost.”

    Maybe. Some companies find it cheaper to have a computer expert on staff. It is the old Business 101 “make or buy” problem.

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