PLMA Annual Meeting & Leadership Conference: The Rise & Fall Of The Mass Market

    Up and downAmid wide speculation in elite marketing and financial circles that a growing number of iconic household brands could see their fortunes fade, “The Rise and Fall of the Mass Market” will be the central theme for PLMA’s 2016 Annual Meeting & Leadership Conference, which is set to take place March 17-20 in Miami.

    Retail trend-watchers, demographers, market analysts, “big data” crunchers and others say the signs are everywhere that mass marketing is losing relevance, as the middle-class family portrait of mom, dad and 2.5 offspring has fallen to fewer than 20% of all households. Rising in their place is an ever more diversified tide of well-informed, connected consumers, who have grown to expect unprecedented levels of personalization, flexibility and dis-intermediation when purchasing products as well as services.

    Just like their selfies on social networks, today’s shoppers insist on framing themselves at the center of the marketing mix. The conference being presented by PLMA will explore what the decline of mass marketing portends for major brands and the retailers who sell them, as well as for retailers’ own brands and store brands suppliers.

    Wall Street analyst Ali Dibadj of Bernstein research will open the program by offering a critical and possibly even iconoclastic view of some of the marketing giants that dominated U.S. retailing for most of the last century. For example, Dibadj recently called future growth prospects for Proctor & Gamble into question, publicly advising the marketing giant to break itself apart to stave off diminishing returns for its major brand portfolios.

    Author and demographer Peter Francese, founder and publisher of the highly influential magazine American Demographics – now a part of Advertising Age – will discuss how the “American melting-pot” has been impacted by seismic societal changes respecting birthrates, aging and health, education, earnings, employment opportunities, migration and immigration, family composition, marriage and divorce, single parenting and more.

    Jim Hertel, Executive Vice President of Willard Bishop, a inmar company, will examine how the rise of fall of the mass market has been reshaping the contours of retailing, and what strategic steps some of today’s major retail companies are taking in order to position themselves to succeed in a world where many familiar brands have lost their luster.

    PLMA’s “Meet the Retailers” series also returns focusing on BJ’s Wholesale Club, with a special presentation by Peter Poutre, BJ’s Senior Vice President of Grocery and Perishables, and David Atkins, BJ’s Vice President Own Brands.

    Rounding out the program will be marketing pro and training expert Matt Nitzberg, the founder of Value for Growth, LLC, and former global client strategy and capability leader for Dunnhumby, who will lead PLMA’s hands-on workshop on “Big Data & Private Label Business.”

    PLMA’s Annual Meeting and Leadership Conference provides an opportunity for private label executives from manufacturing companies to come together with their industry peers and trade partners for the purpose of examining the latest trends and exploring strategies for achieving store brand success. The location for this year’s event will be the Trump National Doral Miami. The conference is open to PLMA member manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers, brokers and suppliers, who may request registration information via email to

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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.