Last summer I received an invitation from Brandless, a unique e-commerce platform that sells food, personal care and household items under its own Brandless label for 40% less than name-brand. Although I was bit skeptical, remembering many generic products I’ve bought with less-than-stellar quality, I was intrigued by Brandless’ premise and high ideals. Their mission statement proclaims,
Better stuff, fewer dollars. Just what matters.
There is just one choice for each type of item and every product (and certain sets of products) are sold for $3.00, a price that reflects the elimination of “brand tax,” the costs associated with marketing, advertising, distribution, and brand cachet. Many of their products are health and environmentally conscious. For every order placed, Brandless provides a meal for people in need.
Founders Tina Sharkey and Ido Leffler are betting that consumers are more likely to shop in accordance with what they value — whether that’s a preference for organic or non-GMO products, or a good value, or social or environmental responsibility —rather following name brands. There is a $5 flat rate charge for shipping, unless you become a Brandless member for $36 a year, or take them up on one of their Free Shipping promotions.
Last week, I test drove Brandless, ordering a selection of basic items to “suss” their products out and see just how good they were. Many were very good and a serious bargain. My overall impression is that Brandless is really working to make appealing, straight-forward, thoughtfully-conceived products with added value ie. social and/or environmentally responsible. Their dead-simple graphic packaging is curiously appealing.
Shopping can be a pretty personal thing, full of specific likes and dislikes. Here’s what my first Brandless sampling yielded:
Peanut Butter, often rancid even at high-turnover stores, was stellar and really fresh.
Brandless extra-virgin olive oil was pleasantly buttery, olivey and nicely grassy… as good or better than quite a few more expensive ones I’ve used as my vin ordinaire oil.
Brandless’ liquid handsoaps had a nice texture but I didn’t like either scent (Eucalyptus & Lavender and Lemon Verbena.) But then, I find most scented products problematic, so I’ll stick with Brandless’ zero-scent products, like their unscented body lotion (no parabens, cruelty free, dermatologist and allergy tested) which is terrific, just the right texture.
I was especially impressed with their biodegradable “Tree Free” paper products made from rapidly renewable sugarcane and bamboo grass. Both toilet tissue and tissues were sturdy and soft.
I also like their disposable, compostable paper plates and bowls made from sugarcane.
Organic cotton pot holder have a pleasing minimal look and work fine. Measuring spoon sets were every so slightly on the chintzy side but totally serviceable.
I think their Silicone Spatula is one of the best looking ones I’ve seen (not a weird loud color), and a steal at $3.
I generally like Brandless’ considered, “just what matters” approach, and that many of their offerings are organic or environmentally conscious, which makes them a bargain at $3. I can see returning to Brandless to order staples and to check out other of their products. (I wished I’d tried their Mayonnaise which is one of the few organic ones I’ve seen with no sugar.)It remains to be seen if I weave ordering from Brandless into my life. A big caveat is that I tried a relatively small sampling, but what I tried makes me interested in trying more.
Brandless is definitely worth a shot.
Check out msn.com‘s pricing comparisons of Brandless products to similar products.