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Is generic packaging the new brand? | Slangbusters Blog
Jul 23, '19

Is generic packaging the new brand?

Artwork of a red colored patch with 'Generic' written on it | Artwork by Hiran Madiya

It is generally accepted by many that “a brand name does not guarantee a quality product” which is true to an extent, so the only competing factors that count are functionality and pricing.

Most businesses could end up investing a significant part of their revenue on marketing and sales, which eventually has to be recovered from the consumer’s pocket.

All the capital which goes into making a product stand out from its competition (without adding to its functionality) is needless expenditure for the consumer.

When buying a pen for a day to day scenario, the quality of writing is the most important factor that comes after pricing and not the distinguishable colors on its body or a premium package design since the cost of the packaging will also be accounted for the increase in the retail price of the product but without adding to the functionality at all.

A generic product is one which does not represent a distinguished brand, the point of this product is to function effectively and nothing more, these brands do not invest in standing out from the rest.

We often use a private label or a private brand without paying attention to where they come from due to the lack of basic distinguishing features and or maybe we’re just too busy using it instead of studying it.

A lot of supermarkets use this to launch their own private labels to compete with national brands. These products could be manufactured in the same factories as those of the brands and still end up being cheaper since there is no advertising budget to account for.

Of course, there will be a lot of people who would only go for the brand they’ve seen on TV but a considerable few would end up going for the cheaper product which will always be the one you have never seen on TV because commercials take a lot of money to conceptualize, produce and air.

If you’re shopping in a supermarket, you could buy the branded pack of flour you’ve seen on television, which they claim is pure and used by all households who wish to live and eat healthily, since generations!


You could just buy a minimally designed package with the store’s name and logo on front, because it’s just flour and who’s to tell that a television commercial guarantees a better quality product?

A certain amount of trust in the supermarket has already been established once the customer enters the supermarket and most won’t hesitate in buying a product under their label.

If you’re having a headache it doesn’t really matter what brand the tablet is as long as it promises to make you feel better because the manufacturing process and chemical ingredients of a generic drug are the same as that of a well-branded and well-packed drug, only cheaper.

Medicinal drugs are not shoes which you have to wear to work every day, and no one cares what brand of pharmaceuticals you follow, all they have to do is simply to be effective. After the patent on a drug expires, any pharmaceutical company is free to manufacture and sell it under the same regulatory oversight as that of the brand and this makes the product widely accessible which breaks the monopoly of the patent holder, all this only ends up benefiting the consumer.

Using unbranded products in certain places could be the difference between breaking or making it , like heavy electronics or premium clothes like your peers may end up judging you for using a generic phone or not wearing a certain brand’s shoes since such brands offer a sense of elitism to their users but that’s not the case everywhere.

Food, pharmaceuticals and household products offer great opportunities for generic brands to grow since they’re supposed to be effective and affordable and anything more than that could be considered a wasted effort.

As a matter of fact, the code of ethics for doctors in India asks doctors to only prescribe generic drugs.

With a saturation of brands and branded goods in the market, a product devoid of fancy graphics and labels stand out from the rest and not only that, it could remind a lot of aging consumers about the time when brands weren’t a real thing and hence feed on their nostalgia for unbranded products.

Some businesses use the authenticity of an unbranded product to connect to their target groups and stand out from the competition which has already spent a large sum of money in trying to stand out in the market.

‘No Name’, a company that sells household and grocery products in Canada initially promoted themselves as a company that sells “basic products in plain packaging at down-to-earth everyday low prices” but now simply claims to “help you save” and

‘Muji’ a Japanese retail company which also sells household products with minimal design and packaging to reduce cost happens to work on a similar principle. The word ‘muji’ in Japanese literally translates to ‘no-label’ in English.

As ironic as it may sound but some products genuinely seem more authentic when they do not represent a label but they too could be manufactured under the same conditions and oversights as any of their competitors.

Like filters which give digital images on a phone a polaroid-like effect, it somewhat provides a sense of inauthentic authenticity to everyone who uses.

In a nutshell, they take a stance on anti-branding to stand out from other brands.

— by Nisarg Avashia, Copywriter, Slangbusters Studio

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