This special post on Private Brand comes courtesy of our sister site Prêt a Marque the hub of all our exclusive, licensed and Private Brand news and thought leadership in fashion and beauty. The guest post from frequent contributor Sophie Maxwell, Insight Director of the international design agency Pearlfisher, her look at Insights and the future of Private Brand.
Insight: The Future of Private Brand – Prêt a Marque
We’ve praised the aesthetic evolution of the Private Brand many times – praised the impact it is having on the shape of the retail industry as a whole. But how can this sector continue to lead? Innovation? Yes. But innovation is only as good as the Insight it brings to life.
Different agencies, different brands, adopt and use Insight in different ways. But, many maybe still don’t fully understand its role or its significance for them – and its potential impact on its future offer.
At Pearlfisher, we define our Insight Program as opening up new ways of seeing the future – and designing for it. We combine the responses from experts and opinion makers (who are in the best position to steer the future) with our own explorations into the cultural and categorical changes happening around us. We can then define key shifts – with accompanying blue-sky design concepts – to build a inspiring and tangible picture of the future for brands.
One of the main shifts we have been working on does tie into the new originality of offers that we are seeing in Private Brand. How we are moving away from copycatting and stereotyping to a more unique, distinctive and inimitable view of ourselves, others and our brands. We call this the shift from ‘Dictatorial to Free’. This captures for us how in the past we conformed to culture, and how in the future our constantly evolving, individual self-expression and growing confidence will instead challenge, change and create it.
At the time of writing, Swedish department store chain Ahlens is sparking a global social media sensation with what is known as the ‘Swedish mannequins’: the chain’s adoption of two female and fuller-figured, lingerie clad mannequins. This is an initiative that has been much debated previously within the industry but Ahlens has quietly made it a reality. This has not just changed the uniform shape of mannequins but will inevitably start to shape a different aesthetic for fashion retail. It showcases a real commitment to difference – radical yet relative.
And we are already starting to see this new sense of freedom – and fluidity – of approach filter through to the brand design and packaging. And it is the growing manifestation of this shift at the key product touchpoint that will undoubtedly be one of the most pivotal for the future direction of Private Brand.
‘& Other Stories’ is a new retail brand from the H&M Group. Items under this brand include beauty products, makeup, shoes, bags, jewellery and clothing – and are not inspired by catwalk trends or marketed as “must have” pieces. It is intended to be a premium brand premised on the female attitude to shopping influenced by social media and blogging.
“Women create looks differently than they did 10-15 years ago. They create their own stories through their personal style and they know fashion.” Creative Director, Sara Hilden-Bengtsson. (Source: LA Times)
A personal and individual brand collective – based on the emotive rather than the branded – with a more flowing and freeform design aesthetic. It also has a beauty range of particular note: refreshingly honest and different with witty and concise packaging and naming.
Whilst the ‘Dictatorial to free’ shift primarily explores the relationship we have with our body (and how this is translating into obvious categories such as beauty, fashion, health and lifestyle) it can – and needs to – be translated and applied across all sectors and mediums from environment to structural packaging innovation.
Brands need to decide whether this shift towards creative freedom applies to them – or, at least, to what degree. But the field is undoubtedly wide open for brands to play with the parameters of craft, innovation and design and look for revolutionary new ways to make an impact.
It’s not about religiously fostering every shift. It’s about keen awareness of our changing culture and context and using Insight, strategy and design to realize this in truly inspirational ways that remain true to the heart of the brand. Insight should be seen as integral to brand innovation and design process right from the start – but in many cases this is a fundamental opportunity still to be maximized.