The downshifting guide

Downshifting a brand is one of the quickest and most effective ways to save on your grocery bill. So why are shoppers so unwilling to try it? Most people seem wary of downgrading to what they perceive to be ‘inferior’ products. Here’s our guide on how to downshift a brand without  radically changing your lifestyle.

Start by being realistic about why it is that you buy the products that you do. If you’re only buying premium brands, is it really because their products taste that much better than the cheaper versions? As consumers, we tend to buy certain products because of the lifestyle they represent, and how they embellish the person we want to be. Chances are, the ingredients in the one are not much different to the ingredients in the other.

The variety available in your average supermarket makes it appear that we are being provided with a wider consumer choice. Instead, we are buying into a cleverly designed marketing spin. Buying a premium brand makes us feel superior and discerning. Yet who has actually decides that one brand is superior to another? The supermarket, of course.

When it comes to downshifting a brand, we are not suggesting a big change in lifestyle. It’s up to you how much you want to save and the changes you are willing to make. Here’s how it’s done:

Typically, you will shop on a particular brand tier. This may differ from product to product. For example you may only buy Lindt chocolate, but you’re happy to get a cheaper brand kitchen roll. The next time you go shopping, drop one tier down from your usual preference on every product you buy. That week, you might notice the difference in some of the food that you cook or the products you are using.

Should the differences remain insignificant or barely noticeable, then it’s your chance to downshift that brand from now on. Even if you’re only switching 4 or 5 products, the savings over an extended period of time will be significant.

Our top 6 downshifting tips are:

1. Downshift on products you don’t eat – household cleaner, kitchen towels, dishwashing liquid, shampoo. Take a look at our Shopping section for savings on basic products.

2. Don’t buy bottom tier brands simply because they are cheaper. Be alert. Sometimes the premium brands are on special and come in cheaper than the rest. Ultimately, downshifting is not about brand, it’s about price.

3. Use cheaper supermarkets for everyday staples like baked beans and household cleaner.

4. Cheaper brands can be used for cooking and baking with very little difference. From wine to butter to flour, the downshifting difference will be less noticeable if the product is being used as a cooking ingredient.

5. If you find the packaging of no-name products feels ‘cheap’ to you, invest in a biscuit tin for your no-name biscuits, or a nice bottle for your tomato sauce.

6. Keep up the challenge. If you’ve managed to successfully downshift for a month, try dropping another brand tier the next month.

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