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!