The downshift challenge: What’s it all about?

Money Saving Expert logoYou’ve probably heard of Money Saving Expert and the great advice from Martin Lewis
and the guys on budgeting and getting
the best possible deals.

You may not, however, have heard of their downshift challenge and how it could help to reduce your supermarket spending costs.

As you’re probably well aware we’re all about saving money and we love a good challenge, so naturally we decided to find out more!

We chatted with Steve Nowottny, consumer & features editor at, to get the low down on the downshift challenge and to find out how you could help your budget by saving money on the all-important weekly shop.

So what’s it all about?

The downshift challenge focuses on the idea that shifting down in brands will help cut your food bills without necessarily meaning that you’re compromising on taste or quality. So if you usually buy a premium product, you could try buying the basic or supermarket brand version instead to save money. Whether it is food, toiletries or cleaning products, there’s plenty of money to be saved!

At MoneyAware, we often ask the question, is there enough difference in taste between premium, supermarket and basic brand products to warrant the difference in price? Surely if something is more pricey it tastes better, why else would it cost so much? Unless, that’s just what they want us to think? I mean, all that fancy packaging can’t be cheap but what real difference is there to the product itself? Hmmm…. I think we’re onto something here guys. I’ve gone all suspicious.

people sat with full carrier bags

Have you tried to downshift challenge?

Steve is here to explain all…

“Never assume that just because something’s more expensive, it’s better. The marketing and packaging of branded products can hypnotise us into thinking that we need to pay more for something which tastes nicer – but when it comes to the actual product, often you may not be able to tell the difference.”

Well that sounds good, but any examples?

“As an example, for one TV programme a few years ago Martin held a blind taste test party for nurses at a hospital. They tasted an up-brand and down-brand version of each product, and while sometimes up-brand won, when it came to turkey an amazing 73% preferred an own-brand turkey to the most expensive brand.”

Just as I thought, now I’m definitely sold on the idea! So what’s a good starting point?

“We encourage people to take the downshift challenge – drop one brand level on everything to see if you can tell the difference, and if you can’t, stick with the cheaper product.”

“Then there are other tricks you can try too: downshifting cleaning products and cosmetics (which many are often surprisingly reluctant to do), downshifting further on ingredients if you’re cooking something (as you can often compensate for the difference with your cooking skills) and even downshifting supermarkets, perhaps loading up on basics at budget supermarkets.”

Some excellent advice, thanks Steve!

Well I don’t know about you but I’m definitely ready to take the downshift challenge to save myself a few quid. After all, as one supermarket might say ‘every little helps’.

There’s even a video of Martin Lewis putting the downshift challenge into action that you might find useful:

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To get started why not use the downshift challenge tool to get a rough idea on how much you could be saving on your shopping.

They also have lots of handy supermarket shopping tips that reveal all sorts of tricks used by retailers in attempt to make you spend more.

Have you tried the downshift challenge yet? Tell us in the comments below.



Posted by in Budgeting