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Generic Products That Are as Good or Better than the Real Thing

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When generic goods first came on the market in the 1970s, they all had a distinctive white label with simple black lettering. The marketing behind the non-marketing was to convince consumers that manufacturers can produce goods cheaper if they don’t have to pay for logos, TV commercials, or package design, and therefore pass savings along to customers.

The ploy worked. We consumers took notice and were generally interested in reducing our tab at checkout. We started making buying decisions in the supermarket aisle vs. in front of the TV. Gamechanger!

Fast forward to today; the black and white labels are gone, replaced by “private label” or store brands that have managed to build brand loyalty of their own (read on for the top four off-brands we love). Nearly a quarter of all inventory on the shelves today is store-brand. And for the most part, it’s good stuff.

We’ve written before about our passion for living frugally. Naturally, Team Planswell is made up of generic goods connoisseurs. We’ve agreed on a top 10 list of products that don’t need a brand name, and we share them with you below. Also, we’ll reveal our ultimate, hands-down, favorite generic item of all time. We’re obsessed.


When Brand Just Doesn’t Matter

  1. “Generic diapers are fantastic. You definitely don’t need to pay for brand-name diapers. I’m very close to having my last child out of diapers, so I’m an expert.” – Scott Wetton, COO


  1. “I don’t think a lot of people know this, but most TV screens are made by just two companies, so the brand doesn’t really matter. If you buy an off-brand TV, usually it’s a Sony screen inside.” – Alan Lau, Sales


“Don’t stop there. The cables, too. They’re just carrying a digital signal. They don’t need to be gold-plated or any of that other fanciness.” – Shaun Esau, Software Developer


  1. Dry goods.“All beans, I find, are exactly the same.” – Andy Cosby, Sales Manager


“I bought off-brand Honey Nut Cheerios and they actually tasted better than the Kellogg’s brand.” – Anthony Gomez, Digital Ads Manager


“I bought expensive organic quinoa once and it was no different than the cheap stuff. I have no idea why I did that.” – Patrick Brennan, Sales Manager


  1. Bottled water.“This is actually a point of contention in my household. I buy the giant jug of water for $2, but my wife needs the Fiji one-liter that’s triple the price.” – Corey Small, Account Executive


  1. Cleaning products.“It doesn’t really matter. It’s going to get the job done.” – Javairia Asif, People Operations Lead


I read an article a few years ago from Consumer Reports comparing dishwasher detergent across every brand. The top-rated detergent was the Walmart store brand.” – Jen Mastrud, Chief Marketing Officer


  1. “The no-name brand of Advil is a quarter of the price and has the exact same ingredients” Neima Mohebiany, Account Executive


When it comes to vitamins, it doesn’t matter if it’s the one with the green label or if it’s a no-name.” Javairia Asif, People Operations Lead


  1. T-shirts.“I’ll take a $5 plain white t-shirt over one that says Gucci any day.” – Mark Maynard, Account Executive


  1. Potato chips.“I can’t taste the difference.” – Dan Lee, Facilitator


I am a potato chip connoisseur. I know a good potato chip and the store-brand kettle chips from Smith’s are excellent.” – Patty Carr, Facilitator


  1. “There are so many types of eggs and they vary dramatically in price. They all taste like eggs.”  – Lukasz Merdzik, Head of Sales


  1. Disinfectant wipes.“One thing we learned during the pandemic when supplies were scarce and we couldn’t be choosy is that all disinfectant wipes are about the same.” – Kristina Smith, VP of Partnerships

Top Store Brands We Love

Some private labels have consistently impressed us with the quality of their products—so much so that we’ve developed brand loyalty to them. From mayonnaise to electronics, here are our reliable favorites:


  1. President’s Choice. Pretty much anything they make is really good.” – Daniel Schloss, Account Executive


  • Find it: 2400 stores in Canada & 1200 stores in 35 US States
  • Available on Amazon: Yes
  • Best Seller: Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookies


  1. Farm Boy.I have been enjoying Farm Boy mayo, Farm Boy hot mustard, Farm Boy hot peppers. There is so much that’s just so good.” – Abdullah Hussain, Product Manager


  • Find it: 40 stores throughout Ontario, Canada
  • Available on Amazon: No
  • Best Seller: Lemon Garlic Dressing


  1. Kirkland. “Anything from Costco is great.” – Isabel Leong, Community Success Manager


  • Find it: 562 Costco stores in the US & 102 in Canada
  • Available on Amazon: Yes
  • Best Seller: Toilet paper


  1. Amazon Basics.“I’ve gotten a few wires from there, a mouse, and more.” – Aditya Bhatia, Intern


  • Find it: On, in the top-line menu
  • Available on Amazon: Of course
  • Best Seller: AA Alkaline Batteries


Our Top Generic Pick

We receive no money for recommending products, but we wish we did for one product in particular—our team’s consumption alone could create quite a revenue stream. It’s rare to get a whole team in agreement on anything, but this one generic product is a Planswell obsession. “It’s white gold,” says COO Scott Wetton.


President’s Choice deluxe white cheddar macaroni-and-cheese is so much better than anything else on the market. Make it with cream instead of milk,” says Eric Arnold, CEO.


This mac has actually been put to the test by Account Executive Vanessa Robinson. At a family gathering, her relatives became taste-testers sampling every brand and variety of mac-and-cheese they could get their hands on. “Hands down, the winner was President’s Choice white cheddar. No question—best mac-and-cheese out there for sure.”


“I was a big Kraft guy my whole life, especially in college,” says Tyler Hindley, Account Executive, “When I had no money, one of my friends showed me President’s Choice white cheddar and I haven’t looked back. If you haven’t tried it, check it out. It’s amazing.”


If President’s Choice isn’t available in your local stores, we’ve got some good news and some bad news for you. First, the good news: it’s available on Amazon. The bad news: you’re going to pay $9/box—9X the price of Kraft Mac-and-Cheese!