I’m not sure we could have asked for anything more the first time out of the gate.
Nearly 140 people came to Chicago in early June to learn and share their time and experience about the private label industry at PLBuyer’s first conference, Private Label: The Next Generation.
We wanted to fill a niche within our industry, creating a conference that was focused on retailers, the problems and challenges that they face and some of the experiences and successes that they’ve found along the way.
Clearly, we struck a chord. Attendees representing 15 retailers in the U.S., Mexico and Canada were on hand for the event. Some of them were among our strong lineup of speakers, others came along to learn and network.
Our attendees stretched across nearly every channel, with grocery, dollar, warehouse, mass merchandise and convenience represented.
So what did we learn? What could all of us take away from this event?
The general consensus was that the old approach to marketing, merchandising, development and partnerships is not the way to succeed in the future.
Safeway’s Joe Ennen talked about retailers doing their own consumer research and listening to their customers rather than reacting to the national brand manufacturers’ trends.
Longo Brothers Fruit Markets’ Jenny Longo and Robert Koss said creating a premium tier for private label meant not simply settling for small variations in products to make that distinction. Rather, their signature tier is comprised of family recipes and unique products that can not be found on other shelves.
Terry Lee of Private Brand Advisors said we needed to capture customers’ attention quickly as quick trips in new channels such as convenience and dollar stores increase. And Todd Maute from CBX went through a quick case study of Duane Reade’s private label transformation, linking its private label program to customers where they live, in New York City.
New approaches. New thought processes. New packaging. New outreaches to customers.
Sam Mayberry of Supervalu ended with the biggest indication of where we’re going. Fitting that our final keynote speaker would point the way to tomorrow.
“I really think there’s a larger play for collaboration with everyone who can get the product off our shelves and into the hands of consumers,” he said.
Private label is no longer the domain of suppliers pitching products to retailers, or retailers finding categories to create me-too items from CPG companies. The future will involve more close work between retailers and suppliers, from the infancy of developing products through the packaging and merchandising of the products in stores.
We’re all in this together. That’s what we continued to learn last month. I can’t wait to find out what we learn next year.