Student Advice Service – Money Matters

News from the Student Advice Service at the University of Brighton

Money Week blog of the day – how to save on everyday spending by downshifting

What is downshifting?

Downshifting is all about dropping a brand type at the supermarket when we go shopping by not falling for the glossy labels, layers of packaging and highly polished, perfectly  symmetrical fruit and veg.

Is there a science to the way we shop?

Yes! We’re all familiar with the end of the aisle goods on offer in supermarkets, but stop and look at eye level items along the aisles – these are the brands the supermarkets want us to buy. This is where the profits are and these things have been strategically placed to grab your attention. But if you pause to glance up, or more typically down, this where you can find the bargain ranges for the same products.

How are different brands categorised?

Premium brands use words like ‘finest’ or ‘luxury’ to imply it’s a treat.

Branded products use the manufacturer’s name like Kellogg’s cereal, Heinz tomato soup, Hellman’s mayonnaise

Own Brand tend to be presented in a similar way to manufacturers’ brands, but with the supermarket’s own take on it.

Value brands are the no frills version. Simple packaging and description such as ‘basic’ or ‘savers’

The challenge is to swap regular items in the shopping basket to a brand lower, unless everything is the value brand. This behaviour really works with the regular purchase and you should be able to feel the difference in your pocket. It also allows for treats and means that you can stick to certain products which you’re not prepared to sacrifice on.

Jaffa cakes are a prime example:

The items range from 12 cakes for 27p (Asda) – 24 cakes for 89p (Aldi) – 10 cakes for £1.05 (McVities)



Love Money published a very interesting article only last month about buying brand vs basic and what the difference is with some ingredients. You may not agree with everything in the article, but it is worth a read to help you think before you buy. It isn’t limited to grocery shopping either, have a look at this Money Saving Expert guide to beauty downshifting?

How to get started

Check out My Supermarket Swap & Save who make suggestions on which items you can substitute for similar alternatives (there’s even an app you can check there and then in store!) Save the Student also have excellent articles on downshifting

Drop a brand level on everything and the average bill’s cut by a third. On a £30 weekly shop, that’s a saving of £500 a year!



Helen Abrahams • February 13, 2019

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