Waitrose LOVES life at the Private Brand Movement

The highlight of yesterday morning at the Private Brand Movement conference was a presentation from Jonathan Ford, Creative Partner with the international design agency Pearlfisher and Maggie Hodgetts, Head of Design, for the UK based grocer Waitrose. Their presentation, Design for Life – Creating a New Design Language for Health and Wellbeing in the Retail Sector” brought a unique global perspective to the conference and was the culmination of a goal that we set last year for the conference of broadening the agenda and presenting a global perspective.

\"\"The UK based grocer Waitrose has 264 stores in the United Kingdom, which account for 4.2% of the UK grocery market with total sales of $5 billion pounds last year.

The pair teamed up to present not only the business case for the development of the new “better for you” brand Waitrose LOVE life, but the strategic vision and design philosophy which guided it’s development.

Jonathan Ford explained the design and strategic philosophy of his agencies approach to the problem with one simple sentence: “Successful brands have to have a strong truth and be desirable design is the bridge between truth and desire.”

Maggie went on to tell the largely American audience more about the iconic UK grocer, its history and guiding principles as well as the insight which guided the creation of the new Private Brand: “The pleasure of food and the essence of health, coming together to create the ideal good life.”

The goal was to celebrate health and wellbeing by changing it from negative to positive abandoning the old cliché of restriction, dieting and denial and replacing them with a new aesthetic guided buy a set of core values:

  • Vitality
  • Simplicity
  • Variety
  • Knowledge
  • Inspiration

This strategy led to Pearlfisher\’s discovery of the essence of the brand as it is expressed in a natural vibrancy, a brand based around vibrant colours and playful nontraditional food photography that expresses the essence of the food. The use of stacked foods on brightly colored backgrounds, which perfectly reinforce the design essence, and brightness of the brand.

\"\"But this wasn’t just and identity for a Private Brand but  a brand concept that presented the Waitrose philosophy of health to its customers, communications which reinforced this ideal include shopping bags, recipe books and a quarterly magazine that promotes the Private Brand and reinforces the idea of bringing healthy living to customer.

The brand was also supported by print advertising, point of sale, outdoor including: the largest backlit billboard in London, transportation billboards, TV and street level posters as well as ROP ads.

This is an excellent example of a well thought out retail strategy, fearless retail decision makers and an agency partner that creates compelling design that delivers on the business objective.


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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.