Consumers are often picky about where and how they spend their money. They want products that are simultaneously high quality, safe, effective, and priced within reason. This can seem like a contradiction; thanks to brand marketing efforts, the more expensive brands seem to be superior. Generic products are offered as a cheaper alternative to brand-name counterparts, but is the quality really the same?


Generic drugs are designed to be chemical replicas of the branded version, only with a lower pricetag. For some medications, the difference in price can be quite significant — especially for prescriptions. Lower-cost generic medications have the same active ingredient as their branded counterpart, and the drug’s strength, dosage, usage, effectiveness, and route of administration are considered identical.

While the active ingredient may be the same, some of the “inactive” components, such as preservatives, flavorings, dyes, and other ingredients can vary. This change of ingredients can result in a drug that is a different shape, size, flavor or color. With over-the-counter medications, there is virtually no difference between the original and generic drugs. Generic prescription drugs’ comparability to the branded version, however, vary.


When it comes to food, the contrast between a branded product and the grocery store equivalent is subjective. Some consumers feel that brand-name products simply taste better, and they refuse to buy a lower-cost substitution. Others don’t notice a difference, or find the difference so small that it’s a nonissue.

Opting for generic foodstuffs often helps reduce your grocery bill without sacrificing quality of living, making eating healthy on a budget easier. In fact, if you read the label on many food items, the ingredients in both generic and branded versions are often very similar. For example, store brand cereals are very comparable to the more popular brand cereals in terms of taste, quality and nutrition.

Household Cleaners

Almost every household cleaning product has a generic clone. For example, all varieties of chlorine bleach contain a concentrated percentage of sodium hypochlorite, so no matter what brand name is on the product label, it will produce the same results. Also, generic types of window cleaner and dish soap are equally as effective as the more expensive grades.

Regarding laundry detergent, consumers tend to be loyal to their favorite brand, and most seem to be willing to pay extra for a higher-quality product. This is because cheaper brands of detergent often leave undesirable residues on clothing.

Generic products often make excellent substitutions for brand-name products when you’re trying to tighten up your budget. In the end, name brands often tend to be more expensive only due to fancy packaging and marketing. When shopping for brand-name or generic products, compare the ingredients and look for reviews when possible. Depending on the product, the branded item may be better, or there may be no difference at all.