Last week I attended another great online event, the Innovation Summit, hosted by MyPrivateBrand (now the Retail Brand Institute). And now the excitement builds for an in-person event, Velocity 2022, next May.
Doug Baker and Jim Wisner presented the new Food Industry Association (FMI) Playbook for Private Brands, which really resonated. Challenge retail brand teams to focus on the category of shoppers rather than the traditional category management. This resonated because at the heart of concentrating on the category of shoppers is the fact that private brands need to focus on values, not value.
We all know that the original origin of private brands was value-led, the low cost/value alternatives to national brands. But now, with so many channels for consumers to buy products, brands need to provide something more, something shoppers cannot get elsewhere.
There will always be the need for the basics, but it is no longer sufficient to provide a budget or value-based national brand equivalent (NBE) alone. Brands need to have clear brand values which their teams and suppliers can align with to help deliver winning products.
Jim put it very well, highlighting that in no other industry is it an acceptable strategy to say (to paraphrase) “I’m no worse than my competitors”. But that was the case for decades in own brands and no longer. Yes, for some products, it is value-based, but what consumers want are values: ethics, clean label, innovation, transparency and free-from, to name a few.
One vital area where all brands need to define their values is sustainability. Product sustainability, animal welfare, responsible sourcing, ingredients of concern, and packaging. And the path to deliver these values relies on supplier engagement. Suppliers are the domain experts and agents of change. Involving them throughout the journey, from start to finish, will enable the development of products that align with the core brand values.
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