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05 October 2018

A storming time at Velocity 2018

Business Development Manager, Ed Holden gives us the low down on Velocity 2018.


Velocity had lots of va va voom this year! And we’re not just talking about Hurricane Florence!


Amid winds of over 100mph and the evacuation warnings that heralded the storm’s arrival on the US East Coast, the Velocity My Private Brand Conference miraculously went on as planned in historic Charlotte, North Carolina – much to the credit of event organiser Christopher Durham and his team.


We were delighted that the event went ahead and despite the weather Velocity proved to be a mecca for leading US retailers in sectors spanning food, home goods, clothing, stationery and more.


Business titans and creatives gathered together to talk about the own brand industry, share market knowledge and exchange ideas.


Key figures in retail such as Juan De Paoli, SVP for Private Brands at Ahold Delhaize USA, Office Depot’s Senior Director of Private Brand Development and Management Nicole Lord, and Brian Quinn, Director of Proprietary Brands at PetSmart, gave unforgettable talks on the changing dynamics of own brand.


Even the US Navy was there to share insights about bringing private brand to the Navy Exchange, as it takes aim on giving its sailors a taste of home, no matter where they are in the world. It was a truly inspiring speech, and set the tone for an exceptional weekend of talks and panels.


The overarching message? Own brand is a fantastic place to be. (Something we’ve known for a while now.)


Myself and the team across our network of global studios were beaming with pride when I reported that our work was cited as an example of packaging design disrupting own brand and challenging the status quo. Our design for Runik wine, which launched last year in the US, incorporates graphics that evoke ancient metalwork and mystery to support its unique name. Its success demonstrates just how far the strategic application of design goes in creating a memorable experience for consumers.


The UK was further represented by John Clague, former Head of Quality and Compliance for Private and Exclusive Brands, at Waitrose and ASDA, who provided an international perspective with a talk on how private brand is over 50% penetration, as he underlined the importance of quality product and packaging.


Key learnings and takeaways include the point that there are no shortcuts in retail. When dealing with retailers and their suppliers, succinct processes are key; as is understanding all information, and the value of data at points along the journey.


A recurring theme throughout the event was that of communication – you can’t talk enough to your suppliers, clients and agencies; supporting our belief that a joined up approach really is best. Good, clear and frequent communication among all the players is invaluable in an environment that is never static. Overall it was an excellent few days spent with forward-thinking leaders reflecting on an industry where the winds can change in moments – a bit like the hurricane on its doorstep.