MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The economic downturn in recent years has forced many of us to cut back on spending. Research, however, shows Americans realize cutting back and saving money does not mean giving up luxury or settling for lesser quality items.

More retail stores these days sell products under their own private label. Purchasing these items, as CBS4’s Donna Rapado, is an easy way to save up to 30-percent on your bill.

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The products purchased in today’s markets have changed drastically over the years—especially since the 1950’s and 1960’s. Also, since the 1970’s when non-name brand products, called “generic,” started lining shelves.

The less-ornate packaging however and the unattractive term “generic” made these products seem inferior to many customers—and often the quality was less-than great.

“It’s no longer just something you’re gonna buy just because it’s less expensive.”

These days most national and regional retailers have their version of generic, and each store features its own branding. Place the same products side by side, and the price difference is apparent

“Now I try them because I feel they’re really good. The quality and the price,” said Andrea Cano, a shopper.

“And when you really look at the product and what the ingredients are it’s basically the same anyways, so you might as well save money,” said John Urbaez.

The National Food Marketing Institute finds about 64-percent of consumers have always been comfortable buying store brands. That number jumped another 27-percent during the recession, and after the recession, about 14-percent of those plan to stick with their pick.

The institute also finds customers used to think private label brands were “Okay for everyday” not for “special occasions or guests.” Now nearly half agree with that.

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“For one thing many name-brand manufacturers make the exact same product for the store brand.  Perfect example, this name brand soda popular among Hispanics, this manufacturer also makes this store brand.”

Similar products, like a certain brand of children’s antihistamine, when comparing labels, will also have the same ingredients.

So if a national brand and a store brand product quality is the same or better, why do you save money?

“What’s driving the effect is how much promotion’s going on, how many ads you see on TV, how many glossy pictures you see in a magazine.  That cost has to come from somewhere,” said Claudia.

Companies, now, put a lot of thought into how they package their products.

“You always have to think about what’s the frame of reference for the customer,” said Maria Brous from Publix Supermarkets. “We wanted to eliminate noise, we wanted to make it clean, we wanted to engage with our customers. We wanted them to know what product they were picking up.”

Navarro’s brand, targeted to their customers, has bilingual, Spanish and English instructions and labeling.

“We thought that a bilingual brand would have a much broader appeal to our consumer and as long as we kept the value proposition relevant I think that is something that the consumer, that the customer would accept,” Juan Ortiz of Navarro Discount Pharmacy said.

“Instead of that private brand just being a copycat or a secondary option to consumers, private brands manufacturers now see an opportunity to really innovate,” said Mark.

At least 70% of Americans now admit they enjoy a discount and trend-tracking shows each year more and more people are looking for ways to save money—choosing store brand every time.

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So if you’re looking for a discount, here’s a list of what products are best to go “generic:”

  1. Infant Care
  2. Medications
  3. Home Equipment and Tools
  4. Makeup and Personal Care
  5. Technology and Media
  6. Cleaning Products
  7. Staples and Produce