Top 5 Themes from the 2022 Velocity Institute Innovation Expo + Conference – Part 1
Written by Chris Faridniya, ChefsBest’s Chief Business Development Officer
ChefsBest had the pleasure of attending and exhibiting at the Velocity Institute Innovation Expo and Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. This event was a gathering place for private brand retailers, manufacturers, top design agencies, and other service providers to come together and discuss the future of private brand innovation. The Velocity Institute’s Vertex Awards, an international private brand design competition, was also held at this event and we saw some truly wonderful package designs. Speakers ranged from top private brand executives to agencies that have been working with private brands to revitalize and upgrade their product packaging and food marketing strategies. As we listened and learned from these speakers, there were 5 common themes we heard throughout the conference: Be Bold, have an ESG Focus, Brand for Growth, Be Customer Focused, and some common Future Trends. We will further explore each of these themes and show some wonderful examples of private brands taking product development, packaging, and marketing to the next level.
Theme 1: Be Bold
This was the most prominent message discussed throughout the conference, but what does it mean to be bold? In this context, being bold meant stripping something down and rebuilding it in an unexpected way. More specifically, pushing food & beverage packaging design to a new limit, bringing innovative products to the shelves, or marketing private-brand products in ways that previously weren’t considered. Some private brand leaders are bold in the ways they lead their teams and foster creativity by holding “Shark Tank” style competitions where any employee can bring a product idea to the table. Although this may not sound like a novel concept, from a private brand’s perspective, this level of openness to change and to move away from the status quo of “generic” products is a step in a bold new direction for the industry.
Example: AmiGA – Now it might take a second to register what this is, but this is a fun take on packaging for socks!
Theme 2: ESG
Advertising claims like all-natural, organic, non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, etc. are commonly seen on packaging for products on the shelves today. In addition to these call-outs, private brands are also promoting their approach to environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) values. Private brand retailers presented on programs they either had in place or were working towards to help limit their impact on the environment or have a positive social impact in their communities. These approaches to how private brands are conducting business are acting as a selling point and driving marketing messaging and packaging call-outs. This is likely due to how much important these values are to the modern consumer, especially the Millennials and Gen-Z.
Example: How Sobey’s Gives Back – Sobey’s has various social programs in place to help give back to the communities they serve.
Theme 3: Branding for Growth
Branding for growth is another common thread among both food & beverage brands and agencies that presented at the conference. As private brands migrate away from the “national brand equivalent” model and focus on innovation to compete directly with other brands on the shelf, an approach to branding and package design needs to reflect this. This means moving away from just focusing on pushing product attributes and creating an approach to package design that allows for a certain level of flexibility as new products are created and put on the shelf. This flexibility should allow for the packaging to align with customer demographics and complement the unique qualities of the product it contains, without working against the core branding elements of the private brand. This can be a challenging balance to achieve, but there are several private brand retailers excelling at this.
Example: ShopRite – Bowl & Basket, Paperbird, and Wholesome Pantry are all 3 perfect examples of this theme.