Friday, May 02, 2008

Kathleen on Branding

Publishers and authors talk a lot about branding these days. I don't know how brand myself. It's a frustrating thought. But I do have some thoughts about brand loyalty. Not for books--I shudder--but tomato paste? Give me Contadina.

I'm shopping for little kid clothes for spring--grandchildren grow as fast and their parents did, and I love dressing them up when they're young enough to get excited about the styles I like. I do a lot of E-Baying for kids' stuff. It's an addiction. I'll have to stop soon--go cold turkey for a while--but not until we have all the pieces to our favorite Gymboree lines. "Put a watch on that one, Nana."

When my kids were little the boys got Toughskins. The boys still tease me about those jeans. They were tough, all right. Sears sold durable kids' clothes. But I loved dressing my daughter up in ruffles and bows. She remembers a longish dress that had bloomers. The lace stuck out below the hem of the dress. Now she tells me she hated that dress. She only wore it to church, but she says she felt like her underwear was showing. She was 5. I could have ruined her life. Instead, she built character over those bloomers. She's now training to be a policeman. Talk about your tough skins.

So I'm thinking about brands today. I'm one of those people who mostly buys what's on sale. It's the way I was raised. I'll use generic ibuprofen and store brand tomatoes. I really like Target's store brand foods. (Recently I read that Target is overall the cheapest place for groceries in the TC.) However, I do have some brand loyalty. I will not do cheap ketchup. Heinz or Hunts. I like Barilla pasta. Store brand soup doesn't cut it--although Target isn't horrible. I like good ice cream--Blue Bunny, Edy's and like that.

Over the years I've found clothing brands that I stayed loyal to. For a while I was way into Easy Spirits for shoes. I discovered Born a couple of years ago. Clunky but comfy. My Coach purse was worth the cost because I don't change purses except for the little evening jobbie.

What brands are you absolutely loyal to? Any good values you can suggest in this age of skyrocketing costs? What about generics and store brands?


Betina Krahn said...

Kathy, we are women of a similar age and background. I do generics for a lot of things, but there are certain things I demand tried and true quality from: toilet paper for instance. Got to have the good stuff. Also shampoo. Have to have my favorite combo. And underwear: I have certain "needs" that can't be addressed by just any old stuff. Have to have the right "foundation."

My boys wore "toughskins," too. They chuckle about it now, but Sears was considered nice and mainstream in those days.

Shoes-- I do look for certain brands, but almost always on sale or at my favorite outlet, which is really close to my home. Clothes, food, electronics. . . I guess I do tend to go by brand. . . though I shop sales and am careful with the $$$.

Now that a SuperTarget has opened near me, I'm shopping there. I like their generics. I also shop at BJ's, which is like a Sam's Club or Costco. That way I can get my favorite brands for less.

Liza said...

I will only buy Heinz ketchup and Hellman's mayo, because they taste best to me. I'm pretty good about generics in food other than those items.

I have major foot problems, so I can only wear really good shoes, but they tend to last much longer so the money balances out. Plus, I wait for really good sales too.

lois greiman said...

Sigh, I'm afraid I'm too cheap to be loyal to much of anything. If it's on sale I'll consider it. Do you think that says bad things about me?

Helen Brenna said...

I don't buy generic on much of anything. But I'm also not all that loyal on much of anything. There are some grocery items that I stick with, like Tide and Silk soy milk. I'm with you on the Heinz ketchup. But there are no clothing or shoes brands that I'll buy just because they're a certain brand.

And the store brands? They kind of tick me off. I don't have a way of researching the manufacturer/maker without digging really deep. I want to KNOW who's making what I'm buying. So generally, I won't buy store brands. Silly, I know.

So I guess the branding stuff doesn't necessarily work on me.

FWIW My next door neighbor is in pharmaceutical quality control and he tells me to never buy generic drugs. He claims the controls over the manufacturing of generics aren't very good.

Cindy Gerard said...

It's funny that almost everyone mentions Heinze ketchup. Seems to be the brand to buy and I agree but over all I've never been big on brand names. There are certain brands I buy simply because I like them the best but otherwise I go for the sale items too.
It does make you wonder about the efforts put into a brand and how, in today's economy, effective branding really is. Maybe more for the younger set who are so conscious of what their peers are wearing or carrying.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Heinz ketchup tastes best and doesn't separate. Hunts is a second choice for me. I agree on Hellman's, too. I've started getting the mayo made with canola. I hate Miracle Whip, which is what hubby's family likes. When there's a feed, I ofen contribute the food and they do the cooking. My s-i-l always says, "But none of that mayonnaise!" So I cave. But no MW in my fridge! My grandmother would never use store bought mayo. She made her own, and it was delish. Guess it's each to her own generation.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Helen, the generics are made by the same companies that make the brands. If it says "compare to" it's probably made by that company.

Funny story: ND is a big producer of hard red spring wheat, which goes into pasta. They built a pasta plant in Cando, home of our own Judy Baer. They make the same pasta for several brands, including Creamettes. But Judy says they used the best whatever (wheat?) in the generic--the local brand. I think it's called Leonardo's. I couldn't tell the difference, but I can tell Barilla from Creamettes. Barilla is better.

Playground Monitor said...

I've bought generic for years but I do stick to Campbell's soup, Peter Pan peanut butter (oh, the agony when they had their recall last year) and Cheerios. Store brand Cheerios have a funny taste to them.

My favorite brand is "Clearance." And if I don't buy the generic drugs, my insurance won't pay and I'm on 3 meds daily for the rest of my life. One of them alone is about $150 a month if I don't buy generic.

Another Toughskins mom here! And now I'm loving buying clothes for my little granddaughter. I shop the sales and only buy stuff that doesn't have to be ironed since my DIL works outside the home. I found some $15 Carter's outfits for $5 and then got an extra 10% off because it was senior day at the store. I'll take every discount they'll give me.

Speaking of senior, the Senior Expo is next week in my town and I go every year to stock up on note pads, pens, tote bags (I use them at the grocery store instead of the plastic bags), doo-dads that are great for stocking stuffers and more. They also do free blood sugar testing, cholesterol testing, EKGs and bone density testing. Kroger has free food samples and if you make one or two rounds of the sample tables, that's free lunch. ::g::


Debra Dixon said...

I'm very particular about food brands. My husband hates it because he cooks and I often say, "What did you do?" Invariably it's because he changed the stewed tomatoes or pasta or sour cream, etc. because they were out of our usual brand.

He hates it but he believes it's not psychological since I can actually tell the difference without knowing of the switch!

I still use Tide because I grew up using Tide.

Won't eat Orioes anymore because the changed the recipe. I'm assuming to be more "healthy."

I have clothes brands that I love because of the quality or the fit.

So, yep I guess I'm "branded."

I tend to like most of Target's offerings. Hate Walmart's quality in general for clothing and food. That's not to say I wouldn't shop there, I have. But I'll take Target over Walmart for almost anything that is a storebrand.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Marilyn, I'm with you on store brand cereal. Inferior taste.

Clothing brands really do make a difference. Jeans are cut differently from one brand to the next. Undies, too.

I can't tell a difference in milk, can you? I buy the "original" or "select"--no hormones. Got my own, thanks.

Michele Hauf said...

I'm brand loyal on a lot of things. TP especially. I always buy Green Giant veggies because the other brands just don't cut it. I have been exploring a lot more lately, though, as I realize a lot of my fav brands just aren't as healthy as they can be.

My biggest brand loyalty is my computer. Macs all the way!

Clothes? Whatever fits!

byrdloves2read said...

There are a few things I'm brand conscious about: hubby insists on Miracle Whip so that's what I get since I don't really care; the only truly comfortable shoes I can find are SAS; Appleseed's carries more clothes that fit me well. However, I'll admit in many other areas I'll buy whatever I've got a coupon for.

Fiona said...

One of my children & I have food allergies. Being allergic to corn is life-changing. We buy most of our food from the local coop & I cook. We don't have ANY brand of cereal--the kids eat a hot breakfast. I save lots of money cooking double & freezing the extra. It winds up saving time, too. Because my son & I have asthma, I can't use "regular" cleaners. We use a lot of vinegar, baking powder

I do have brand loyalty when it comes to clothes. Shoes & hand bags have to LAST. I have a favorite Coach handbag that is 13 years old & a classic style.

Like Kathleen, I have found some great things on eBay.

My kids' clothes often come from consignment stores. I get my new winter coats from a church thrift store--5 bucks for something that looks new and would cost $300 at a department store.

Shoes have to be new, but I buy them on sale. One child has wide feet & the other very narrow.:-(

Michele Hauf said...

Wow, Fiona. Corn is in EVERYTHING. I can't imagine having to deal with an allergy like that. Amazing.

Kathleen Eagle said...

And the thing about corn is that we don't digest it well. Notice how it comes through whole in kids' stools? Your dog food should not have any corn in it. Dogs can't digest it at all. (This from my dd who worked at Petco and then at a vet clinic, but Lois could tell us more about pets and corn.)

Kathleen Eagle said...

But I love corn. I make a scalloped corn dish for Thanksgiving etc that everyone loves.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Notice how there's no subsstitute for A1 Sauce? And Lea and Perrin's Worcestershire.

I got a set of pots and pans when I was in college--the kind they now sell at convention center home shows. They used to be called Kitchen Queen. I bought them on time, and they gave you a bunch of premiums, like a silver plated tea service (which I gave away). But those are the best double clad stainless pots and pans out there. I still have a couple of them.

Susan Kay Law said...

Yeah, it's Heinz here, too. Skippy peanut butter. Diet coke, an addiction I am struggling to break. I can't think of much else that I'm brand loyal to, though the kid who runs swears by Asics running shoes and won't buy any other kind.

I'm really picky about underwear, too, but they keep changing them and then I have to go on a great search to find another kind I like. Very annoying. Keep changing the cuts on pants I like, too.

I sprung for a coach purse once. I didnt' like it - the strap doesn't stay on, even though I keep trying to pinch the attachment shut. Back to cheap for me - though I rarely carry a purse, even so.

Jill said...

I agree about the Cheerios and DEFINITELY about Macs!
But bracketing those, it seems to be the Health and Beauty aisle where I'm pickiest. Genuine Q-Tips and the real Listerine. Accept no substitutes!