Name Brand vs. Generic Products: 4 Tips To Tell Which Is The Better Deal

Are you more likely to choose sports gear on merit or because of a brand name? Here are four tips to help you assess generic products versus brand name versions.

Footwear section at Dick's Sporting Goods

Besides "need," what other factors do you consider when making a gear purchase? Do you ever fall victim to the "name game"— doling out extra money for an item because of the mystique of a brand name?

It's easy to get caught up in the brand craze at sporting good stores, especially since well-known brands like adidas, Nike, Reebok, New Balance and Under Armour get prominent placement and generic brands get shelved to the side, where there is little or no advertising or information available on them.

You need your gear to be both functional and stylish, but that doesn't mean it has to be costly. If two products serve the same purpose, why not choose the less expensive one? Use the following tips to help you determine if a generic product is worth your consideration. (If you are thinking of ordering a generic supplement, read this first: Supplement Labels and the NSF-Certified Seal.)

Check consumer reviews online

Your first step is to be an informed shopper, and the Internet is a great source of valuable information. If top-notch generic products are available, you can easily find out about them online. Consumers love sharing their good and bad experiences on Amazon, eBay and other shopping websites. In my experience, unhappy people are even more willing to talk about their displeasure with a product; so you can quickly find out how a generic brand stacks up against name brands.

Try before you buy

After some Internet research, your best bet is to visit a store and try the product. You're the one who will be using it, so you have to be happy with it. There is no better way than to test it out yourself.

Ask the experts

Many store employees are product experts and can help you find exactly what you're looking for. At retailers like Foot Locker, Champs and Dick's Sporting Goods, you can ask questions and learn more about generic items.

Take advantage of your experience

If you happen to find a generic product you like, use it to your advantage in the future. Remember the manufacturer's name so you can try out new items from the company. On the other hand, if a product was awful, you'll know to avoid in the future.

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