5 Questions with the Vertex Judges – Maria Dubuc

    Leading up to the judging of the sixth annual Vertex Awards International Private Brand Design Competition I sat down with each of the judges and asked them five questions about the state of Private Brands – their answers present a unique global perspective and depth of knowledge of the retail brand space.

    Late registration closes Friday, January 25, 2019
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    Today’s conversation is with Maria Dubuc, President, MBD.

    1. How will the growth of online shopping and home delivery change private brand?
      Online shopping and home delivery means that the focus is no longer simply on “what stands out on shelf” but about the brand experience as a whole. How efficiently is the package delivered? What does the box look like when it arrives? What feeling does the package evoke when you hold it for the first time?

      And, as Loe Limpens wrote, in 10 yrs much of grocery will be purchased online. So yes, how consumers shop is changing and actually providing more opportunity for continued growth in own brands. What consumers want are options. The lines continue to blur, and frankly most consumers do not care who owns a brand.

    2. The traditional tiered private label portfolio (good, better, best or basic, NBE, premium) has dominated retailers’ strategy for the last thirty years, will this continue? If not, what strategies will shape the new portfolios?
      Tiers may be important to merchants and retailers, but they’re irrelevant to shoppers. Consumers care about price and quality, but do they really need a product in every price point? As an industry, it’s time to forget the old rules and simply develop great brands and products that resonate with consumers.
    3. What design trends do you see impacting private brand today?
      We believe it’s a combination of 2 things. 1. Radical transparency. Consumers want to believe in a brand, so private brands need to deliver by providing quality backed by honesty. 2. Creative freedom. Consumers won’t stand for mediocre or boring, nor will they purchase brands that say one thing but deliver something else. If we get both those things right everybody wins!
    4. What retailer do you think is setting the standard for private brand design?Being that it’s Christmas time when you ask this, I have to give a shout out to Target and their Wondershop experience. This year Target breathed new life into this category with the updated brand design, experiential photography style, and updated “destination” shopping.

      Another retailer I find very interesting is Canadian Tire, which sells much more than tires. Their YARDWORKS rebrand is very powerful, and they’ve managed to build great brands that can crossover from seasonal to permanent, such as CANVAS and forLIVING. Both have stopped thinking about their brands as “private” and are treating them like what they are – strong brands that delight customers.

    5. The Vertex Awards celebrates its sixth edition this year when you look back on the winners, what should we have learned?
      There’s a plethora of amazing own brand packaging in the world and retailers that continue to innovate (and win). The Vertex platform allows us to experience and learn from these brands without traveling the globe. What should we have learned? To open our eyes, listen to the consumers, keep on our toes.

    Late registration closes Friday, January 25, 2019
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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.