06 December 2023

People Power and Private Brand – Global Creative Director Michael Duffy’s End of Year Review

With the end of the year fast approaching, I’ve found myself reflecting on the experiences we’ve had over the past 12 months; from the projects we’ve worked on to the trends we’ve observed. I wanted to take this opportunity to share a few insights, including the developments we’ve seen in the world of private brand, where much of the team’s focus has been spent this year, and the ways we’ve responded to them as a business.

Private brands are supermarket superheroes

Earlier this year, data from market researchers NIQ revealed that sales of store brand products at British supermarkets have grown at double the speed of branded goods in 2023. Research from McKinsey showed that, in North America, private brands’ share of growth in grocery categories jumped by double-digit percentage points from 2021 to 2023. And, in Central Europe, 82% of consumers perceived the value of private brands as comparable or superior to that of branded items. Across the board, opportunities abound!

Against the current backdrop of inflation and socio-economic uncertainty, retailers have employed a number of strategies to strengthen their private brand offering, including expanding their own-brand lines, increasing product quality and introducing different levels of premiumisation to draw in discerning shoppers seeking a bargain or to discover something new or different. The importance of these kinds of strategies has increased in line with cost-of-living pressures, and retailers have had to consider a number of factors in order to set their private-brand offering apart.

These factors include the growing desire for elevated at-home experiences and globally-inspired cuisines – a trend we noticed during the pandemic and one that has likely endured as financial pressures prompt people to scale down their ‘splurge’ purchases and swap them for DIY equivalents (think facemasks and candles instead of spa treatments, and quality at-home coffee pods and syrups instead of pricey takeout coffees from high-street chains).

The dual expectations of quality and ‘experience’ from consumers have had a huge impact on packaging design, with private brands pulling in premium cues from luxury leaders to enhance higher-tier lines (especially in the beauty and wellness categories, where ‘dupes’ have gained social media traction and driven demand) and investing in better branding and stronger product storytelling to engage consumers on a more emotional level. Often, a product is not just a product; it has to deliver a feeling and an experience, so packaging has to work harder in order to achieve that.

Creators and curators of impactful brands

Whether we’re working with leading national brands or retailers’ own brands, our team has taken an approach that could be defined by the term insatiable curiosity. Their desire to get to the heart of what consumers care about drives everything we do. I think it’s this approach that has helped us deliver so many creative solutions for our clients this year, and I’m delighted that a number of those projects were recognised with awards, testament to the team’s continued pursuit of the innovative and impactful.

It’s important to acknowledge that all of this happened during a time of change for the business – we’ve integrated new teams in different locations during the past year, but our people have embraced the evolution! I genuinely believe our shared values have allowed these integrations to work so seamlessly, and I’m grateful to everyone for being so open-minded. We’re an eclectic mix of experts, all specialising in different disciplines, but we share a passion for great people and products, as well as a wholehearted belief that great design can make a real difference in people’s lives.

Moving forward, I’m keen that we continue to make sure everyone within our team is able to share their perspective. Having a mixture of distinct points of view is critical if we’re to create novel and exciting experiences for consumers interacting with the brands we work with. I want our people to keep exercising their creativity and taking pride in their work. And, above all, I want us all to keep listening. Of course, this means asking the right questions of our client partners and really getting to the heart of their brands, but it also means keeping an ear to the ground in the industries and markets we operate in, so we can stay on top of emerging and evolving trends and opportunities. If we do this, we can build on the team’s achievements this year and deliver even more exceptional, head-turning creative work for our clients next year. Onwards and upwards!

More Insight

View All
Navigating the Refrigeration Divide: Exploring Ambient Crossovers in Brand Expansion

Navigating the Refrigeration Divide: Exploring Ambient Crossovers in Brand Expansion

16 February 2024 16/02/24

Navigating the Refrigeration Divide: Exploring Ambient Crossovers in Brand Expansion

In the ever-evolving landscape of consumer goods, brands are continually seeking innovative ways to expand their offerings and capture new market segments. A notable trend in recent times is the crossing of the refrigeration divide, where brands traditionally associated with chilled products explore opportunities in the ambient space. One compelling example of this is Tropicana’s […]

Read More
The Evolution and Future of Plant-Based: Navigating the Peaks and Valleys

The Evolution and Future of Plant-Based: Navigating the Peaks and Valleys

02 February 2024 02/02/24

The Evolution and Future of Plant-Based: Navigating the Peaks and Valleys

Has Plant Peaked? In recent years, the plant-based movement has experienced a surge in popularity, with an increasing number of consumers embracing a plant-centric lifestyle. However, as with any trend, questions arise about whether plant-based has peaked and what lies ahead for this burgeoning market. In this blog post, we’ll explore recent fluctuations in customer […]

Read More
2023 ‘unwrapped’ – another year of creativity and change

2023 ‘unwrapped’ – another year of creativity and change

02 January 2024 02/01/24

2023 ‘unwrapped’ – another year of creativity and change

With 2024 finally upon us, it comes a time to look back and reflect on another fantastic year we have had at Equator. While not everyone may be up to speed with the endeavours of our collaborative creatives over the last twelve months, fear not – now is your chance to catch up! In this […]

Read More
What is Sunrise 2027 and how can brands prepare for it?

What is Sunrise 2027 and how can brands prepare for it?

19 December 2023 19/12/23

What is Sunrise 2027 and how can brands prepare for it?

Throughout history, finding new and better ways of doing things has been a driving force for innovation. Not much is immune to optimisation, which is why it’s so strange to see things remain unchanged for decades. Funnily enough, one of those things is the barcode – specifically, the Universal Product Code (UPC), which has been […]

Read More
People Power and Private Brand – Global Creative Director Michael Duffy’s End of Year Review

People Power and Private Brand – Global Creative Director Michael Duffy’s End of Year Review

06 December 2023 06/12/23

People Power and Private Brand – Global Creative Director Michael Duffy’s End of Year Review

With the end of the year fast approaching, I’ve found myself reflecting on the experiences we’ve had over the past 12 months; from the projects we’ve worked on to the trends we’ve observed. I wanted to take this opportunity to share a few insights, including the developments we’ve seen in the world of private brand, […]

Read More
Tidings of Comfort and Joy: Our Predictions For This Year’s Festive Trends

Tidings of Comfort and Joy: Our Predictions For This Year’s Festive Trends

13 November 2023 13/11/23

Tidings of Comfort and Joy: Our Predictions For This Year’s Festive Trends

At Equator, we use every tool at our disposal to identify, analyse and predict seasonal trends. It helps us track and plot how they evolve year on year, giving our clients an edge when it comes to creating seasonal designs that sparkle on shelf. Last year, before summer had even drawn to a close, we […]

Read More
What pet food trends should producers focus their development efforts on in 2023/24?

What pet food trends should producers focus their development efforts on in 2023/24?

04 September 2023 04/09/23

What pet food trends should producers focus their development efforts on in 2023/24?

As a design agency that frequently handles innovative pet food packaging projects, our team turned its attention to the pet food trends producers need to know, to stay ahead of the pack. In this blog post, you’ll find all of our insights consolidated into an easily digestible format (uh oh, we’re drifting into on-pack parlance) […]

Read More
Previous Slide Next Slide