Velocity 18 - the My Private Brand conference: Private brands have a new face

I had the opportunity to attend the My Private Brands Velocity conference in September. The overarching message from the speakers and retailers in attendance was: there’s a new face to private brands, one that’s all about building and growing brands.

The traditional process of launching “me too” products is not representative of the new face of private brands.  The new face is about being the consumer’s want/love and not settling for second place in any category.

The event was a breath of fresh air! Held in a smaller venue than most industry conferences, like-minded companies focused on creating and building brands came together. There was a belief in the room that own brands are an asset, and the attendees seemed willing to be open about their challenges and to have a discussion about their situation.

The attendees were from different commercial channels of distribution. To me, that was the only difference as all were focused on the same goal: building brands their consumers love.

This is a new face of private brands. It’s a new quest for differentiation and innovation. According to the event’s host and organizer, Christopher Durham, retailers should dare to be different with their brands, embrace disruption, and solve problems.

Here are my key takeaways from the My Private Brand conference:

Challenge your suppliers

Most delegates at the event were looking for partners to help them achieve their goals.  Building brands is hard work - it takes an army.  It’s all about building one team with your supply partners.  As one presenter put it: “Spread the load”.  Your suppliers can make a difference.  Engage your suppliers!  Challenge them to source better, manufacture better, deliver better.  Building great brands requires many hands and minds.  Leverage the “army” of resource you have available today.

Brand and product Integrity

What do your customers think about your brands and products?  Brand and product quality is an uncompromising obligation. There has to be a link between your customer and the brands you own and manage.  Consumers care more about a brand that aligns with their belief system — whether that means tree-free toilet paper or the chemicals they use to wipe down their counters.  Be authentic and original.  Your brand represents trust, make sure you earn it. Don’t be afraid to fail, failure is all about applying the learnings. Try, fail, learn. Thank you, Juan Pablo De Paoli (Senior Vice President Private Brands at Ahold Delhaize) for these words of wisdom.

Private brands have never been more critical to a retailer’s strategy

Your private brands are an asset. Retailer brands should be a strategic pillar used to improve your competitive edge. Indeed, many retailer brands are now seen as brands in their own right.  Kroger and their Simple Truth brand is a great example of this. Have a strategy for your brand and build assets. Strategy drives change.  You always need a solid foundation but layer difference in. Great design is essential and meaningful innovation is critical to success.  Make sure you leverage what’s available to get your message across to your customers – in-store, in the media and online.   

One final thought on the My Private Brand conference

Velocity is a great title for this industry-changing event.  As we know from the industry, shelf velocity is an important measure of sales as it tells how well a product sells when it is made available to and preferred by the consumer.  Building private brands that consumers love will lead to brand trust which translates to preference and loyalty.  All the necessary elements to achieve the optimal shelf velocity.  That’s what it all about at the end of the day. 

Steven Howell

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