North America Private Brand’s New World

The following guest post comes from Kieran Forsey, CEO, S4RB INC. Don’t miss Kieran when he presents at Velocity: the My Private Brand Conference next week.

North America Private Brand’s New World

Grocery in North America is changing, the era of private label merely copying national brand products is over. Even ‘Good, Better, Best’ has had its day. So, what is happening? And how does North American retail need to adapt to succeed?

A new type of private brand is emerging providing in-category and cross-category ranges that reflect a retailer’s very essence. It’s the reason why shoppers will go to one retailer rather than another and more importantly why they will return. Private brand is a vital element of a retailer’s differentiation and therefore core to a strategy for growth. This applies to both bricks and mortar stores and online shopping.

How do retailers cope in this new world? The key is defining what a private brand is famous for and rapidly developing winning products to this formula. Gradual change will be too slow. To stay in today’s retail race, retailers have to provide consistently great products and great product/brand experience to drive footfall and retain shoppers.

To develop new products, move to new categories or create new ranges requires a re-think and North American retailers can learn a lot from UK retailers who have already faced into this very challenge.

Today, private label sales at all top UK retailers is greater than 45% of sales. One of the critical success factors is good use of technology to create a wider community around private brands. But, it is important that the technology supports the strategy and not the other way around. This wasn’t possible in the past, but now using more advanced technology platforms, private brand retailers can create their own cloud and link in the world – literally. Suppliers, partners, advisors and of course shoppers can all participate in one private brand community. Even industry portals can be connected.

At S4RB we talk about DISCOVER new insights and trends, CONNECT and share product data and ENGAGE with suppliers to make them a part of the private brand team.

Get these things right and it will transform the performance, efficiency, and effectiveness of your private brand and will rapidly move to a winning formula.

Staying with ‘me too’ products and traditional product development will no longer cut the mustard.

It is time to get your head in YOUR own cloud and keep it in the cloud!


Kieran Forsey, CEO, North America, is a co-founder of S4RB who heads up the U.S. operation, S4RB Inc., based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  He has a strong background in fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) retail and supply chain and software development and has worked with many of the world’s leading retailers. Forsey is a strong proponent of having supplier and retailer teams adopt a collaborative approach to quickly changing market trends. He emphasizes the importance of customer and brand experience and believes that focused efforts to ‘listen’ to customers will result in product differentiation and transparent relationships with suppliers.

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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.