Brands On The Run

Cheryl Morrisey is, to put it mildly, a careful shopper. To stick to her monthly food budget of $250, the suburban Dallas mother of three spends hours each week clipping coupons, scanning ad supplements, and making lists before heading out to shop. And except for a handful of items, such as Northern bath tissue and Kraft Miracle Whip salad dressing, Morrisey buys whatever brand is cheapest. She says: "I don't see a whole lot of difference. Soap is soap. If I have a coupon, all the better."Shoppers like Morrisey--and there are growing numbers of them--are giving packaged-goods makers fits. Jolted by the recession and its aftershocks and more interested in thrift than in the conspicuous consumption that defined the 1980s, they don't have much use for products that don't give them value--that mix of price, quality, and image.

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