Sunflower Farmers Market Selects Unusual Private Brand Agency of Record

Over the last few years the Private Brands and the art of retail brand management has seen significant growth and change as a result of a distressed economy and retailers who are struggling to differentiate. This growth has caused an unprecedented rush of every sort of vendor and agency attempting to capture dollars from retailers building Private Brands. Companies that previously had little or no retail experience and knew nothing of the challenges of building brands at retail now claim instant expertise. Companies that often looked down their nose at lowly Private Brands, now fight for dollars.

So I suppose I should not be surprised when yet another player jumps into the Private brand space.

In a press release yesterday, direct mail and printing company Vertis Communications, announced that Sunflower Farmers Market, a chain of “farm market” style natural grocery stores, named the company Agency of Record for branding of its Private Brands products. Over the last few years Vertis has had more than its fair share of turmoil and has declared bankruptcy not once but twice –  they are far afield from the bet in class players in a RFP of this nature. They are not a broker with retail knowledge and design capabilities, or a boutique packaging agency, or a big name branding agency – instead they print direct mail and have a little bit of packaging experience. Interesting?

According to the press release:

Under the new agreement, Vertis will help Sunflower Farmers Market develop a fresh, unified brand that embodies the essence of the Sunflower experience for its 600 new private label products. Through qualitative research, competitive analysis and its own proprietary Customer Focus Research, Vertis will capture consumer preferences and develop packaging concepts that tailor colors, imagery and designs that convey the brand’s natural attributes to its health-conscious customers looking for products that offer both quality and value.

“During a time of tremendous growth for Sunflower, we are very pleased that our partnership with Vertis Communications continues to move forward, allowing us to leverage proprietary consumer research, branding and packaging design expertise,” said Steve Black, Vice President of Marketing & I.T., Sunflower Farmers Market. “Through clear understanding of our customers and our brand’s personality, Vertis is improving connections with our shoppers and creating highly relevant communications, both in and out of store, which will effectively capture attention of Sunflower and our new private label brand.”

“We are committed to creating a brand presence that aligns with the supreme quality of products that savvy shoppers have come to expect from Sunflower,” said Gerald Sokol Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer, Interim, for Vertis Communications. “In addition to creating a compelling, consistent look and feel for advertising inserts and now private label packaging, Vertis also implements a seamless partnership of creative insight and print production knowledge that delivers better results and ROI for Sunflower as only we can.”

The new private label brand packaging is expected to begin hitting Sunflower Farmers Market stores in mid-summer.

Direct Mail printer as Brand Strategist an and Branding Agency  that’s a new one on me. I look forward to seeing the work?



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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.