For transport, flash drives can’t be beat. As backup media, flash drives gradually go blank from lack of use, though (does anyone know how long it takes?). I’ve also had HDDs die, or their data get corrupted, just sitting on a shelf. Optical wins, here, and is cheap. Well, really, tape really wins, but that can get expensive.
But…I wouldn’t trust anything with Phillips, TDK, or Memorex beyond maybe 3 months. Actually, at this point, I won’t take Phillips or TDK at any price. I got lucky a couple years ago w/ some Memorex (Ritek F16 001), but I’ve had my fair share of low-grade CMC and such, too, with many coasters and barely-within-spec scans.
It is tricky to be sure you’re getting good media. That said, it appears the newer Verbatim rebrands are good grades of what they are rebranding, so Verbatim and Sony +R remain solid B&M choices; and specialty online stores generally keep a good selection of TY and Verbatim.
Where I am (SE US), the media selection has been fairly sparse since at least 2003. There’s no lack of stock on the shelves, and media disappears in a couple days when on sale (obviously people are buying and using the stuff), but the choices are narrow, and generally do not include much in the way of brands/series with a reputation for high quality.
Given how good modern CMC, Prodisc, and Ritek discs can be, while good archival media is certainly an issue, something to throw your photos on, or recovered files from somebody’s HDD, really isn’t a big deal. The minimum quality has generally risen, IME, even though finding The Good Stuff™ takes a little effort. If I just need some discs, I’ll pick up whatever is the cheapest between HP, Sony, Staples, or Office Depot brands–maybe even Memorex, when on sale.
I think people that have had good luck with brand X stick to it, and that’s about it. Today, decent brands tend to be, well, decent. If you have a poor backup/archival strategy, even TY and MCC could let you down. If you have a good one, decaying discs will tend to be a minor annoyance.