Private Brand has come into its own as a robust business, and leaders need to focus on a wide range of brand building strategies to keep the momentum going — especially in the pandemic’s wake. 

That was a key point of speakers at Velocity Global, the My Private Brand Conference held virtually earlier this month.

Here are 10 key takeaways from Velocity Global that are relevant for all Private Brand leaders.

  1. Learning from the Pandemic: The pandemic has created unexpected new opportunities for Private Brands. Out of stocks for manufacturer brands led to more consumer trial of Private Brands. Many consumers liked what they tried. “Now Private Brand will be more of a consideration for consumers in many categories, and I expect increased levels of Private Brand sales going forward,” said industry consultant Howard Brandeisky during a conference panel.
  2. Accelerating Ecommerce: Ecommerce has taken on new importance during the pandemic, and some Private Brand leaders are recognizing new online shopping opportunities for Private Brands. “Ecommerce footprints have enabled emerging brands to be successful, so why wouldn’t you do this for private label as well?” asked speaker Anik Patel of Boxed. “You can create a storefront focused exclusively on private label, to tell its story and share recipes and experiences.”
  3. Responding to Generations: Private Brand retailers understand that one size does not fit all when it comes to consumers. Conference presenters addressed the special needs of Baby Boomers, and also new opportunities with younger consumers. On that latter point, CVS Health pointed to the enhancement of its Pop-Arazzi brand in a way that appeals to Gen Z shoppers, and Wakefern’s Chris Skyers emphasized that the edgy feel of the new Paperbird nonfoods Private Brand is especially attractive to both Gen Z and millennial shoppers.
  4. Gaining Consumer Insights: Companies are creatively expanding the ways they obtain shopper insights about Private Brands. For some, focus groups and online research is the way to go. Another route is tapping into feedback from company Business Resource Groups, said Ahold Delhaize’s Sarah Chartrand. For Japan’s Aeon TopValu, new products are put through sensory tests with customer panels before and after launches.
  5. Prioritizing Health: The importance of health and wellness to consumers was emphasized by speakers at retailers ranging from Continente to Carrefour. CVS Health’s Brenda Lord said wellness is a central strategic mission of her company. “We want to understand our customers’ healthcare needs and help them be more proactive,” she said.
  6. Doing the Right Thing: Diversity and inclusion was spotlighted in two sessions at Velocity Global. In one session, Catalina’s Phyllis Johnson said her company “has been able to create this safe space to talk about what’s happening, and how to move the company forward in a more authentic way around diversity, and how it transfers into the own brand market space.”
  7. Designing Creatively: A Vertex Awards session track illuminated standout Private Brand design across the globe. However, design can also have simple and practical sides. For example, at Pricesmart!, which operates membership warehouse clubs in Latin America and the Caribbean, display-ready trays are used as billboards to further help promote products, said Pricesmart’s Dan Fairbanks.
  8. Looking Internally: Succeeding in Private Brand isn’t just about understanding customers. It also requires successfully executing and communicating internally at companies. Wakefern’s Skyers outlined how his team has collaborated internally and kept the board updated on the unique transformation of the Private Brands portfolio.
  9. Solidifying Relationships: The global health crisis underscored the importance of maintaining strong relationships between retailers and suppliers in Private Brands. This point was cited in a number of Velocity Global sessions, including during the COVID-19 track and in a Mainstage panel presentation. “We need to collectively draw contingency plans on how to address the next crisis we may face,” said Mark Mayer of Hormel Foods Corp. “Now is a time to think that way. Let’s make sure we incorporate what we’ve learned.”
  10. Embracing Price and Quality: Private brand has long been associated with price, and more recently quality is being emphasized. However, increasingly retailers are coming to the conclusion that both are imperative. “It’s the combination of those two factors that have paved the way for a surge in private label today,” said Patel of Boxed. “You need to nail both of them.”

The point of all the takeaways is that Private Brand needs to do it all. Retailers and suppliers need to be on top of a wide range of strategies to keep the Private Brands momentum going.


All presentations from this year’s Velocity Global are now available on demand. If you could not attend, tickets are still available for purchase to gain access to this compelling content.