Christopher Durham Global Retail Brands Magazine

Kids: The Forgotten Channels & Loyal Customers of Tomorrow

The following is the third in a series of guest posts from the latest issue of Global Retail Brands and this is my contribution to the magazine. Throughout the week we will feature one article a day from the new publication – please take a few minutes and click-through to the site – read the entire article and see what the rest of the world is up to.

\"Kids\"Private Brand Innovation for Kids: The Forgotten Channels & Loyal Customers of Tomorrow

By Christopher A. Durham: President & Chief Strategist, My Private Brand

In the last column, I introduced the concept of the “forgotten channels” and the Private Brand retailers in those channels who are supporting the next generation of Private Brand with product development, expanded quality controls and innovation initiatives not to mention award-winning brand development and package design. They move beyond CPG/FMCG private label and deliver real brands their customers. They are behaving like confident brand owners and investing in focused communications and advertising that tells their brand stories.

This column will expand that concept to include not simply a channel but a customer – Mom’s & Kids and what Private Brands retailers are using to build relationships with them.

Infant and toddler focused Private Brand packaged goods products (Diapers, infant formula shampoos, medications, etc.) continue to grow and have begun to pus h the traditional guard rails defined by strong national brands in the category. German cooperative retailer Edeka is currently testing 30 flavors of premium organic Private Brand baby food called SunSan.

However when we step out of the supermarket the Private Brands become far more interesting examples include:

IKEA: Iconic Swedish retailer includes more than 500 Ikea branded child and parent focused products which include everything a busy mom needs to bring the modern Scandinavian lifestyle and aesthetic to life in her own home. Products include: changing tables, cribs, bibs, furniture, rugs, lighting, towels and linens, toys, first aid, and storage.

Read the entire article.



Fifty2 – The MPB Project: Staples – Avant

“Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project,” will present a carefully curated look at the best Private Brands in the U.S. across all retail channels. The weekly series presents a look at one great Private Brand with insight, analysis and original photography. I am looking for retailer-owned private labels that are BRANDS. Brands that bring their positioning and business purpose to life through: great design, purpose, expertise, confidence, emotion, lifestyle and innovation.

To submit a brand for consideration please email


Since the opening of the first Staples store in Brighton, Massachusetts in 1986, the office supply retailer has built a strong portfolio of Private Brand products that consistently reinforces the Staples retail brand. Over the last year, the retailer has confidently proclaimed the Staples brand, “North America’s most trusted brand in office products.”

However, until 2012, the Private Brands portfolio was primarily made up of Staples branded products, with a few sub brands and numerous product brands added to meet category needs. That all changed with the launch of their premium writing brand, Avant. The new brand confidently steps away from the Staples name and firmly establishes a credible and unique brand voice. The only hint of a Staples presence in this brand is the distribution clause.

Clean, modern, easy to open packaging as well as contemporary naming, logo and package design reinforce the superior quality products. The minimalist product design creates ergonomic writing instruments that feel great in the hand.

The Avant brand is divided into three sub brands and color-coded by pen type for shoppability: AvantNext (gel/plastic body), AvantStyle (ballpoint/plastic body), and AvantPro (ballpoint/stainless steel body). Users may customize their writing experience with interchangeable ink refills, available in black, blue and red SilkScribe and gel inks.

Avant is a promising addition to the Staples Private Brand portfolio and an intriguing taste of evolving Private Brand strategy at the world\’s largest office supply retailer.

Brand: Avant
Brand Focus:
Premium pens and refills

Framingham, Massachusetts 

2011 USA Retail Sales ($000):
2011 Stores:

To submit a brand for consideration please email





guests Tess Wicksteed

Branding the everyday basics – the new opportunity?

\"\"No one better understands the motivation of the vigilant value-driven consumer than the Private Brand owner and retailer. When it comes to daily food staples, the evolving line extensions – Family Dollar alone is reported to have added more than 40 new Private Brand products in the past year  – and additions to brand portfolios – the launch of Simply M&S earlier in the year – bear testament to this. But with a consumer studying the value of every item they now buy, could the Private Brand be doing even more when it comes to the development and branding of a hundred and one everyday and non-food staples?

With such a glowing track record in the innovation and design of our everyday food (and also beauty) choices, the Private Brand leaders and retailers seem the obvious choice to seize – and make a success of – what is something of an untapped opportunity for hundreds of products we use and restock on a daily basis but which remain the untouchables when it comes to dedicated design and innovation. And the opportunity is endless when you start to compile a list that includes everything from batteries to sanitary products, from kitty litter to pregnancy tests…

There have, of course, been many articles and also books written about user-centered design and the often overlooked – but genius – design of everyday things. Many more discussions focus on the myriad use of, for example, a ‘Q Tip’. But their stretch could be further maximized with a focus on branding and packaging design. Let’s face it, the majority of these products are unsexy and unshowy and, yet, we probably have more interaction with them on a daily basis than we do with our partners or family. So, why shouldn’t we make them a pleasure to use and show off by combining purpose with beauty?

The potential is there for all to see – hair straighteners are now GHD’s, we talk about the Dyson and many believe that a food mixer is actually a Kitchen Aid… Not the most sexy items but have become so with strategic brand design and naming innovation.

We are not saying that this is a brand new opportunity but it is an opportunity that could – and should – be revisited. Design advances to date have all been a bit piecemeal. With the consumer focus on lifestyle, we have seen new (but sporadic) incarnations in the home sector for everything from paint to light bulbs. Retailers such as Duane Reade were rightly praised for the design of their barcode, Manhattan skyline design, gracing everything from toilet rolls to bottled water and giving a taster for just what is possible when making the everyday special. But there’s so much scope for more.

We only have to look at the meat sector to see just what is possible – and how the look of one market has radically and irrevocably changed in a very short space of time.

From a daily staple and commodity, the meat sector has become increasingly specialized and sophisticated as well as increasingly competitive as brands look for new ways to innovate and present their offers. Traditionally, meat has been marketed by type of animal and cut whilst packaging has relied on a standard and labeled Styrofoam casing. But now we are seeing truly new and bold designs in what has always been not just an under-designed but a design deficient sector.

\"\"DeMaria is just one notable example. Instead of transparent plastic pouches and punchy branded bags, the Spanish company strove to enhance the image of its edible goods with a clean, contemporary and refined frame.

The die-cut window has been shaped to subtly reference the cut of Iberian ham, but also the base of the acorn that forms the foodstuff of the livestock. The cap of the oak fruit is a print of the decorative dome of the Salamanca Cathedral, local to the production of the contents of DeMaria Meat packaging.

To see the meat industry take such a stand with its brand design – and turn brands into more than just products with a celebration of the image and visual aesthetic – anticipates huge shifts in just how we can interpret and design a previously perceived basic and untouchable staple.

We need to take a wider view and look at why and how we brand for life’s necessities rather than desirables. Why should aspirational products be the only ones that are well branded when actually these untouchable items say far more about our chosen lifestyle than any other – and the diversity and cross-section of categories that this can touch and influence is seemingly boundless.

Today’s audience is not just value-driven but highly discerning and we need to find new and even better ways to play to this. And for our Private Brands and retailers when it comes to cost effective opportunities to put the brand in the hand, they need to realize that the new opportunity could probably lie in consolidating what they already have.

Tess Wicksteed is Head of Strategy at Pearlfisher –
Tess’s great talent is the instant ability to see the wood for the trees. As the creative force behind Pearlfisher’s strategic offer, she trades in originality, clarity and logic, getting to the point fast and delivering strategy that’s both creative and cohesive. A longstanding Pearlfisher person, Tess was Strategy Director in London for ten years before relocating with her family for a brand new challenge in New York.

As a literature student at York, Sussex and Cambridge Universities, Tess was keen to become first a clown, then a teacher. However, it was her belief that good culture matters that finally led to a career in design and an ongoing commitment to creating powerful brands that contribute positively to the world. Short and sharp in all things, Tess balances refreshing bluntness with disarming humanity. Her presence on a project promises fireworks – and guarantees results.

All Other

A’ Design Award & Competition Accepting Entries

\"\"The international design contest A’ Design Award & Competition is now open for submissions for the packaging design awards category. The submission deadline is September 30th 2012.

A’ Design Award excels at creating publicity and visibility for its winners, with a direct reach of 3 million design enthusiasts through A’ Design Awards’ Broadcasting Network and with an extended reach of 700 million people annually through the publicity and dissemination services by DesignPRWire, Design-Media, IDNN and DXGN design news networks.

Among other things winners receive inclusion in the BuySellDesign Network, physical exhibition at MOOD Museum of Design, Yearbook Publication, and the Gala-Night invitations which are provided free of charge to winners.

To learn more, visit:

All Other

Winning With Innovative Private Brand Packaging Design


Competition is increasing as retail sales channels expand beyond the traditional grocery store, and governance around nutritional data and food ethics continue to grow fast. To stand out on the shelf, it is imperative retailer\’s focus on the ultimate Packaging Design for their Private Brands that is both channel and market appropriate.

As Private Brand evolves beyond the traditional three-tier model, design becomes the critical component in driving a successful product and increasing sales through differentiating from the competition.

Join Planet Retail for a FREE live webcast, where they will present the increasingly important role Packaging Design is playing within Private Brand.

Tune in to discover:

  • What\’s driving the increasing growth of innovative Packaging Design
  • How retailers use design features to engender trust
  • Why tailoring your Packaging Design according to market is of the utmost importance
  • Why legislation is driving design complexity
  • How to overcome the supply chain complexities involved with packaging design

Date: June 27 2012
Time: 3pm UK time
Duration: 1 hour

Aisling Balfe, Custom Research Analyst, Planet Retail
Amina West, VP Northern Europe, Trace One