I was thinking about shopping and branding recently. For no particular reason other than my own wonderings. I think it was prompted by the new coffee shop in town. I apologise, I’ve probably bored you with this before. This new coffee shop is one in a line of chains that have come to our town recently. We are a small market town but in the last few years retailers seem to be falling over themselves to come in and set up home. Apparentely once one coffee chain has decided an area is viable for business others will follow. And there appears to be more than enough shoppers for them all. It all depends what you like in your coffee store.

So I was excited this week to try out the latest chain to arrive in town. I have to say its beautifully done. Each new coffee shop (although part of a huge chain ) seems to take the success of the last coffee shop in town to open and just tweak it a notch, enhancing the experience. First we had very nice coffee in quite nice surroundings, then the next chain brought lovely coffee and spacious surroundings with squashy sofas and chairs. The latest one to open has really hit the nail decor wise. Although probably generic to the chain it is still individual enough to look great. This one has more squashy sofas, more specialty coffees and bookshelves and an open fire.

I have to admit  whilst the last shop to open has been my favourite for a while I have never been able to settle on a coffee there that I really like, thus negating the experience slightly. Before you began to despair that this post is only about coffee I’m moving on, sort of.

What made me start to think about brand loyalty was my own observation that I am a fickle customer, loyal only while it suits me. I don’t feel attached to particular brands in some areas of my shopping life. Competition is healthy between stores and with the big chains there are usually enough customers to go around. I know it’s not the same with the small corner shops though.

The supermarket chain we shop at (of German origin) simply because it is the best value. We can get a trolley full of shopping there for at least half the price of its competitors, no small feat when you’re feeding a family of 6. We occasionally have money off vouchers sent to us from one of the biggest supermarkets but it’s usually not enough to justify shopping there at all. I don’t feel disloyal to Britain, I am just trying to get the most for my money.

So what sort of shopper are you? Do you only have branded goods in your home, do you have to have Heinz beans? Do you have to have only well-known brands in your shopping baskets?

Over the years as my husbands and mine  finances have gone up and down, we have experienced all kinds of shopping, from only being able to afford value food to sometimes buying a shops finest range. To be honest I don’t think there is a lot of difference between them all. I have a sneaking suspicion most of them come off the same production lines and are just labelled differently. It is shocking though the mark up on food these days since food is coming from farther away. I can’t quite believe a loaf of bread is over a pound money wise. Value bread in Tesco used to be 19p when we first started buying it, now it is closer to 50p. And yet wages don’t increase in line with other rises so how are people meant to manage?

However this is not supposed to be a rant so I’ll stop there with the examples.

Before I started thinking about all this I thought I wasn’t a very loyal shopper however there are some shopping standards I’ve had to learn the hard way . The only washing powder I find really gets our clothes clean is one of a few top brands unfortunately. When we were more pressed for money I did try cheaper brands but it was false economy because my clothes were not clean after using them. Maybe we are a particularly dirty family but I don’t think so! The same with washing up liquid and dishwasher tablets. Our German branded store doesn’t do badly in these areas but it just misses out on the most well-known brands. So I prefer to use Fairy washing up liquid and Finish  dishwasher tablets. However I buy these both from a discounter store so never pay more than a pound for them.

I’ve said before that my husband and I are coffee snobs so I try not to buy really cheap instant coffee because it will sit in the cupboard unused. We have 2 coffee machines at home so I try to make a box of pods last a week for these if I can. Tea bags are another issue. As I don’t really drink much tea I don’t spend a fortune on teabags for other people.  I don’t buy the cheapest usually the middle range.

I suppose you learn over a lifetime of shopping what you like. I know many people do not have a choice what they buy. We are blessed to be able to choose a bit and to have some treats particularly as things are difficult financially at the moment. It is hard to write a post like this without inviting judgement from those reading. Sometimes the words in our head don’t come out the way we would want on the printed screen so I am sorry if this seems self-indulgent.

What do you think? Is value always better or is it false economy in some instances?

Till next time.

NaBloPoMo post also.

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