It’s more than a coincidence that so many retailers – 73 in all – are being honored this year for Private Brand design excellence through the Vertex Awards. This recognition speaks to the industry’s determination to break out of old stereotypes and make Private Brand into a highly innovative draw for consumers.
“Design is more important than ever in capturing customers’ attention for Private Brand,” said Jason Bidart, vice president, Private Brand Programs, Fairway Market, in comments at Velocity: The My Private Brand Conference, held recently in Charlotte, N.C.
Fairway won a Bronze Award for a Vertex entry. “Private brands really need to stand out against all the national brands,” Bidart said.
The Vertex Awards, now in its sixth year, spotlights winning retailer design strategies across the globe, encompassing a wide range of product categories. The awards are celebrated between two venues by global regions. The winners from the Americas were honored at Velocity in Charlotte, N.C. in April. Those from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Oceana and Africa will be celebrated at the Velocity Europe conference October 22, 2019, in Lisbon, Portugal.
“We’re honored to be recognized in this way,” said Jeff Gamsey, vice president of Private Brands, Boxed.com, during the Vertex presentation ceremony in Charlotte.
Boxed was one of two winners of the inaugural Retailer of the Year Award, given to retailers that achieved the highest overall scores based on their winning entries. The other winner was Ahold Delhaize-owned Dutch grocer Albert Heijn.
“We hope to continue to push the envelope and do great things with design, and want to thank our team,” Gamsey said. “It’s super fun working with them to create, new and beautiful products.”
The Publishers Choice Award for North American was awarded to Office Depot, for its TUL Pro Pens. Marjolijn Chung-Elbert, Design Manager, underscored the imperative of strong package design in Private Brand.
“We need to push the status quo a little bit to be unique in the marketplace,” she said. “Packaging a great way to do that as it’s a way to interact with the customer right from the start. So it’s about user experience, bringing a bit of surprise, and a spark of joy. We spend a lot of time making sure product looks right, feels right, works right.”
Christopher Durham, president of My Private Brand, and co-founder of the Vertex Awards, said the 73 winners, representing a who’s-who of progressive retailers, are part of a record setting 412 entries from 33 countries. These retailers highlight “the absolute best in package design from around the globe, including the first-ever entry from India,” he said.
One of Velocity’s keynote speakers, Gil Phipps, Kroger’s vice president of Branding, Marketing, and Our Brands, said package design is essential to relaying Private Brand proposition.
“I think packaging helps people to develop relationships with the brand,” he said in an interview. “You want people to feel fantastic when they buy and use your product. If the product is great but the package is something they can’t be proud of, then they can’t feel as wonderful about the brand. So it’s a really important component.”
April Snider, Art Director, Retail Business Services at Ahold-Delhaize, pointed to the generational momentum for private brand, which inspires companies to emphasize innovative design.
“Right now there’s a trend to make Private Brand seem more modern,” she said, citing the significant interest of Millennials in Private Brand. “We showcase products with clean modern design. We draw the customer in with photography, giving them an idea of what it will smell like, the sensory experience.”
Steve Kent, Advertising and Creative director, Harris Teeter, said that design helps private brand to shine, and is especially crucial for the most innovative products, “to really shout to the consumer what makes them important and better.”
Harris Teeter was honored for items in its HT Traders line, including a gelato and pizza. Kent said Private Brand is a winning platform for differentiation.
“What excites me most now is the ability to express ourselves more creatively through private brand, and to break away through our HT Traders brand,” he said.