1 in 2 Americans are purchasing more generic brands, and 2 in 3 are brown-bagging lunch, according to a HarrisInteractive survey into consumers’ buying patterns 30 months into the recession.

Titled, Americans Still Cutting Back on the Little Things to Save Money, Harris’s poll discovered that U.S. consumers are making a lot of micro-changes on a daily basis to deal with the economic downturn. Besides migrating toward generic products and away from branded ones, and not buying as many lunches out, they’re switching to refillable water bottles, using the hairdresser and barber less, cancelling media subscriptions (including magazines, newspapers and cable TV), and cutting down on dry cleaning.

15% of Americans are also cancelling their landline phones and opting to be cell phone-only households, a relatively consistent trend over the four quarters between June 2009 and June 2010. In fact, all of these trends have held steady in the 12 months, June ’09-’10. The one trend with the greatest uptick is “stopped purchasing coffee in the morning,” rising from 15% of Americans to 22% who are forgoing coffee ‘out’ in the a.m.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  In the health care world, “generics” means first and foremost generic drugs. HarrisInteractive polled U.S. adults in 2008 and found that year that 81% of Americans who purchase prescription drugs would prefer a generic to a brand. That statistic was found a year before Americans said they were switching to generic brands across all consumer goods categories.

Generics are a fact of life for most Americans in 2010. As consumers go generic and brown-bag in other parts of their life, will they “go generic” in other aspects of health, as well? Generic drugs have demonstrated their value for 4 in 5 consumers, Harris found in 2008. Value is in the eye of the beholder. Value-based purchasing in health is based on cost and quality, not just ‘price.’ The more health citizens and purchasers can make informed choices in a transparent market with free flowing, useful information on outcomes, the wiser they will be. And there’s nothing generic about that.