Velocity Spotlights Kroger, Amazon and Innovation

Velocity put retailers large and small on the Private Brands stage in a full day of sessions Tuesday.

Kroger’s Gil Phipps, vice president of Branding, Marketing and Our Brands, outlined the phenomenal evolution of that company’s strategies. He placed special emphasis on Private Brands such as Simple Truth and Private Selection. Phipps said the company has progressed over the years from generics to knock-offs to ‘knock-outs,’ and is even being ‘knocked-off’ by others.

The key differentiator is that Kroger “started treating our brands like brands, and talking about each brand differently,” he said.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s Private Brand growth was highlighted in a presentation by Christopher Durham, president, My Private Brand. He pointed to the e-commerce giant’s determination to overcome considerable fits and starts.

“They realize some of their efforts will fail, and others won’t,” he said. “But they learn from their failures. They learn what to do by learning what not to do.”

Smaller retailers spotlighted at Velocity included Fairway Market, which has reinvented its Private Brand efforts, said Jason Bidart, vice president of Private Brand Programs, in a presentation.

“We examined how we can take the brand equity we have and push it forward,” he said.

The retailer’s efforts have focused on areas including transparency, consistency and innovation.

Even as Velocity accelerated, attendees readied for the final stretch on Wednesday, including presentations from Walmart, Metro, Wakefern and Publix.

The evening closed with attendees networking and unwinding on the roof of the Le Meridien hotel.

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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.