Off-Brand Brands

When you go to the grocer, you’re likely to see at least two options for whatever product you buy.  One option — and often more than one — will always be a major, national brand that is a familiar name that you see advertised on national TV.  The other option will be the off-brand product.  That’s the product that doesn’t advertise on TV and is typically sold for a significantly cheaper price than the major national brand.

I often buy the off-brand alternatives.  Why not?  If I’m buying non-dairy coffee creamer, it really doesn’t make any difference to me whether I’m getting whatever mixture is put together by the national brand or the combination developed by the alternative.  In my experience, the off-brand is often just as good as the brand, and I feel I’ve prudently  saved a few bucks on my grocery bill.

Plus, I like checking out the names of the off-brand product producers.

Typically, the off-brand alternatives are regional in scope and are affiliated with grocery store chains.  You’ll see different off-brand names and options in Columbus than you would in, say, Boise, Idaho.  And often the names are clever plays on words that also are a bit defensive in nature, and geared toward convincing you that the products are really just as good as the national brands — or at least reasonably close.

For example, in Maine off-brand options have names like Heluva Good (as in Heluva Good cheddar cheese), Shur Fine, and Best Yet.  Heluva Good suggests that it will exceed normal off-brand consumer taste and quality expectations.  Shur Fine doesn’t make quite so bold a promise, but still conveys that it will provide ultimate user satisfaction.  But Best Yet is a bit curious.  It’s not addressing consumer reactions, it’s comparing the current product to predecessors.  It suggests that the producer is still tinkering with the formula, experimenting, and coming up with marginal improvements over last year’s offering.  Best Yet is hedging, rather than staking out a clear position.

I’ve been using the Best Yet non-dairy coffee creamer, and it’s perfectly fine.  Now that I think of it, Perfectly Fine would be a heluva good brand for an off-brand product, too.