The downshift challenge

Whilst this isn’t specifically a treat or deal, wanted to flag MoneySavingExpert.com’s Downshift challenge as they’ve just updated the article.

Most people will recognise that many supermarkets operate a three-tier kind of product structure (especially for food and drink) that usually follows this pattern:

Value (cheapest) > Standard > Best (highest price)

The concept is that by paying more you’re getting a much higher quality product in terms of taste, smell, etc. However, for many people, this quality is pretty subjective, and in many cases, most people struggle to tell the difference.

The idea of this challenge is that when you next go shopping you “downshift” some of the items to the next level you’d normally buy.

So, for example, let’s say you usually buy a premium brand lemonade at £2 a bottle.

Next time, you’d downshift to the next level down (in this case > standard) at £1 a bottle. If you struggle to tell much difference in taste, you’ve found a successful downshift and are saving £1 .

If you want to take it further, you downshift again to the value brand at 49p and see how it tastes.

Now, for some people there will likely be certain products where things are more noticeable. For me, i can definitely tell (and am not keen on) cheap cola so i’d rather pay a bit more. By the same measure I can’t tell much difference between value and finest pasta (especially if it’s in a sauce) so that’s an easy downshift saving.

The best approach is to identify the products you think you might not notice too much (pasta is a good one, but things like supermarket crisps can be very good, tea and coffee etc) and start there.

Every so often you will likely find a product you aren’t keen on but you can always then do your bit to help others by offering it to others who might be keen to try it.

For most people, ignoring the marketing and voting with what they actually do taste and smell vs. what they think they should can often save many pounds every week.

Give it a go and let us know how you get on. Would be great if people can share their best wins to help others

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This is such a great idea @darren though it goes against that feeling that I deserve the best :rofl:

I guess a lot of the time we are paying for that word, or a fancy label.

But it also strikes me that what the challenge does is help you develop better financial habits, and that before we have more fuel price increases, we could all do with better buying habits?

Worth practising now!

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I think that’s exactly right @RDG

The main point here really is actually whether we do notice a taste/smell change or whether our brains see “best” and wire us to think it must be.

For sure some products will taste better/worse, but we’re all different so it’s almost certain people can make a conscious change to downshift some products they don’t really notice and save money.

The other aspect of this, of course, is the reminder that where we can (and when time allows!) cooking from scratch using basic ingredients is still often much cheaper and more nurtrious than buying pre-made “best” products anyways!

On the back of our Jollof competition, I’d love to get people contributing their favourite cheap eats for cooking at home. I’m sure @Whitney is an inspiration here!