High End vs. Low End: Same Product, Different Packaging

Posted on 05/28/2012

You may think that name brand product is better quality than the cheaper generic option, but there’s a chance that the only thing that’s different is the packaging—and the price tag. It’s called contract marketing and over the past 20 years many retailers have created private-label brands, manufactured by the same companies making pricier products. For consumers, that means you can essentially get the same product in a less flashy package for a fraction of the cost.

Pet Food A 2007 outbreak of tainted pet food led to the revelation that more than 100 brand names of pet food were all being made by the same company: Menu Foods Inc of Ontario. The Wall Street Journal reported that Iams and the private-label SuperValu Inc’s NutriPlan beef entrees were virtually the same product. The difference? A 13.2 ounce can of Iams is $.99 and the Nutriplan is just $.50.

According to Appliance411.com, about a dozen companies manufacturer hundreds of brands of appliances. While they may have cosmetic differences, in many cases the mechanics of the appliances are virtually identical. For instance, did you know that Whirlpool makes the discount appliances for furniture retailer IKEA?

Aluminum Foil
According to the Wall Street Journey, Alcoa is the company that owns Reynolds aluminum wrap. The company also makes private-label aluminum foil and plastic wrap which means the store brand sharing the shelf with Reynolds could be almost identical.

Many luxury cosmetic brands have close ties with drugstore brands. For instance, luxury brand Lancôme is owned by budget-friendly brand L’Oreal. While marketing for each brand’s mascara is handled quite differently, many experts feel they share ingredients and technology. Pick up a tube of Lancôme’s L’Extreme Instant Extentioning Lengthening Mascara at Sephora.com and you’ll pay $26. While a tube of L’Oreal Voluminous Volume Building Mascara is just $7.99 at Walgreens.com.

Sofas, tables and chairs are other items that you could be paying too much for. Take baby cribs for instance—the babyletto modo 3-in-1-convertible-crib sold at stores like AllModern.com is $379. Compare that to the Baby Mod Olivia 3-in-1 Baby Crib sold at Walmart for more than $100 less. If it looks similar to you—you’re right. The cribs are made by the same parent company Million Dollar Baby and according to customer reviews they are virtually identical in every way.

By Alison Storm

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