What you need to know:
- I have discovered that there are many other alternative brands out there that are of even better quality and cheaper than what I was used to.
- I also realised that sugar off a sack, the colour notwithstanding, tastes no different from that sold in attractive packets in supermarkets.
Nowadays, the kitchen cabinet where I store flour, sugar tea leaves and other common items used in the kitchen looks like a kitenge, a mishmash of colours, patterns and textures, as well as an assortment of containers of different sizes.
A few years ago, there was a semblance of uniformity in that cabinet because when I went shopping for food or items that would prepare certain foods, I only bought certain brands, brands that I grew up with, and therefore believed that they were the best. And so, even when the prices for these products went up, I still remained loyal to the brand.
And then creeped in this severely depressed economy that has left many Kenyans struggling to feed their families, many living on a meal a day, some completely unable to afford even that one meal. It is a crisis that has been made worse by the floods that have displaced scores of Kenyans and submerged crops.
I have discovered that there are many other alternative brands out there that are of even better quality and cheaper than what I was used to. Now, I don’t even know the name of the detergent I use because it is scooped off a sack and packed in kilos in one of those bags that replaced plastic papers. And it does the job just fine.
I also realised that sugar off a sack, the colour notwithstanding, tastes no different from that sold in attractive packets in supermarkets.
By the way, I thought of giving up sugar all together, if anything, it would be healthier for me and would save me some money, but I convinced myself that life is short, and we only live once, so why deny myself at least that one luxury?
As for the bathing soap I bought the other day because it was cheap and on sale (buy two, get one free), I am unable to even pronounce the name – I think it’s Arabic. Or not. What I do know is that it lathers quite nicely and smells nice too. And just like that, there is a company that has lost a loyal customer forever.
Dear reader, I think that this is the beginning of the end of brands. Forced to rethink our spending habits thanks to the escalating cost of living, we have realised that even unknown upcoming brands serve the purpose just as well, if not better.
I have a friend who would only make ugali using a certain ‘premium’ brand of maize meal that used to cost an arm and a leg even way before the cost of unga went through the roof. The other day, I visited her, and knowing how much I like ugali (I suspect I was born a Luhya…), that is what she made for lunch. I was therefore surprised to learn that she had ditched her ‘premium’ brand of unga and had resorted to buying the cheapest brand she could get.
“This economy has given me character development…” she quipped, letting on that even tissue paper had become a luxury in her home, such that at one point she wished she were living upcountry because she would have made use of the leaves on the trees in her father’s compound without hesitation.
“That totally makes sense,” I assured her.