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Study shows Americans waste billions on name brands

University of Chicago researchers estimate American consumers could save by switching to store brand groceries and pharmaceuticals.

(Jennifer Shephard/The Elkhart Truth)

Posted on Aug. 12, 2014 at 3:49 p.m.

Americans waste more than $40 billion a year on brand name products, say University of Chicago researchers.

Researchers looked at 50 health and 241 food and drink products and found Americans spend $196 billion annually on those products. They estimate consumers could spend $44 billion less annually by switching to store brands whenever possible.

Because products like painkillers usually have the same active ingredients and effects whether name brand or generic, the researchers suggest consumers are more likely to buy name brands when they are uninformed about an equivalent generic brand. However, they found misinformation or lack of information influenced consumer’s purchases of health products much more than their grocery purchases.

The study showed pharmacists choose store brand drugs over national brands 91 percent of the time, while the average consumer chooses the store brand only 74 percent of the time.

Average consumers were more likely to buy national brands at the grocery store as well. The researchers found when chefs purchased staples such as salt, sugar and baking soda, 77 percent of those purchases were store brands. Only 60 percent of the average consumer’s purchases of the same products were store brands.


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