See Six Alternatives To The Nation's Most Popular Brands

Ghirardelli ChocolateGhirardelli Chocolate

Photo: Ghirardelli

Marketing and consulting group Harris Interactive recently released results from their annual EquiTrend study.The study asks 37,000 U.S. consumers to choose their favourite brands in more than 50 categories – everything from motor oil to casual dining restaurants. This year’s winners – no surprise – include well-known brands like Coca-Cola, Subway, and Gatorade.

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The study suggests that brand recognition is a big factor in many consumers’ buying decisions. As a recovering brand-name junkie myself, I used to be guilty of falling for the hype, buying whatever cleaning product, snack food, or soft drink commercials recommended.

While a lot of brands are household names because they’re good, that doesn’t mean they’re always best. I’ve found alternatives to the nation’s most popular brands that are not just cheaper – in my opinion, they’re better.

Here are some of my favourite alternatives to this year’s EquiTrend winners.

1. Beer

In this category, 65 per cent of participants chose Blue Moon as their favourite. Blue Moon is a Belgian-style wheat brew with a hint of orange and spices. I've been a fan for years, but a six-pack of 12-ounce bottles costs $9.49 in my area. I can buy better for less.

Like Abita Satsuma Wit.

This beer is also a craft brew and has a hint of Satsuma, which is similar to an orange. In my area, a six-pack of 12-ounce bottles retails for $8, saving $1.49.

Buy online and you might save even more -- check out our story 5 Tips to Save on Beer for details.

2. Soft Drinks

3. Chocolate

Ghirardelli chocolate was the winner in the premium chocolate category, with 74 per cent of consumers choosing it as their favourite brand.

ou can buy their chocolate bars on the Ghirardelli website for $3.95 each, and they have some great flavours.

However, I've found better deals.

My personal favourite is the Endangered Species Chocolate bars.

Retailing online for $2.99 a bar, they're cheaper, made with organic chocolate, and 10 per cent of the company's net profits are donated to charity.

4. Coffee

Green Mountain Coffee -- the makers of the K-Cup -- won the vote for best coffee this year with 65 per cent of consumers choosing their brand.

The K-Cups give you some variety, but they're not a good deal. For example, 24-count boxes range from $16.49 to $20.49.

As an alternative, try Community Coffee. They have a variety of flavours similar to the ones offered by Green Mountain Coffee.

A 12-ounce bag costs $9.69, and I can make about 30 cups with one.

5. Cosmetics

Origins Cosmetics received 63 per cent of the votes in the category of prestige cosmetics.

Their products are made from certified organic materials and are chemical-free.

I use Physicians Formula's Organic Wear line, which uses the same all-natural ingredients but costs less.

For example, Origins' Full Story mascara retails for $15, but I recently bought a tube of Organic Wear Jumbo Lash for $9.99.

Of course, buying a cheaper brand isn't the only way to save on cosmetics. Check out 6 Tips to Save on Beauty Products for more ideas.

6. Household Cleaners

Lysol All-Purpose Cleaner (with a 71 per cent approval rating) won in this category.

Considering you can pick up a bottle for $5.59 at Drugstore.com, Lysol isn't exactly expensive, but I still save a ton of money by making my cleaner.

I mix 1 ounce of white vinegar and 3 to 4 cups of water in a spray bottle and use it on everything from my windows to my kitchen countertops.

Since I can buy a 12-ounce bottle of white vinegar for $0.99 at my grocery store, I spend $0.08 filling up my cleaning product bottle. That is a savings of $5.51 over the brand-name product.

For other homemade cleaning product ideas, check out 19 Uses for Baking Soda, Dryer Sheets, and Beer.

If you're looking to save even more ...

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