On Tuesday (29th of May), we went to the 2018 edition of the PLMA fair “World of Private Label” at the RAI Exhibition Centre in Amsterdam. The exposition hosted 2,600 companies in 14+ halls with over 60 national and regional pavilions.
Dazzling numbers, and there certainly was a lot of ground to cover: from food & beverages over cosmetics & cleaning products to the odd toy manufacturer… Too much for two people, but we tried our best to identify the most interesting and innovative products nonetheless!
PLMA thankfully helped us out by organizing a PLMA Idea Supermarket®. Here, the latest trends in (food) retailing were on display for visitors to explore and discover.
We spent some time browsing the all-natural baby food, jelly (candy) Lego bricks and more, but one thing rapidly became clear: it is no longer just the A-brands that invest in products with new flavors/packaging or in creating new consumption moments. Private label manufacturers from all over the world vie for the attention of potential buyers as well by anticipating and playing into consumer trends.
To keep it simple, we have structured these trends into two main categories
- 1.’Usual suspects’ organic and vegetarian are no longer trendy but have, as a matter of fact, become commonplace. Many (if not most) food & beverage private label suppliers already have an organic and/or vegetarian range on offer.
- 2. Instead, we saw the rise of next-level alternatives: vegan and free-from products (zero sugar, gluten or lactose free, …) ruled supreme at PLMA. And how better to illustrate this point than with a dedicated range like Lidl UK’s Just Free? The suppliers and retailers of today are clearly ready for the consumer of tomorrow. Healthy and environmentally-conscious alternatives to traditional products are no longer restricted to premium A-brands but are quickly becoming a staple of private label ranges too.
- 3. And finally: slightly-less-obvious ingredients or combinations. Manufacturers try to set themselves apart with risky ingredients or ingredient combinations, trying to appeal to the adventurous shopper (and retailer). We aren’t entirely convinced (yet) of the market potential of black charcoal ice cream, but fruit juice energy ‘shots’ or (natural) baby food with flavors from around the world will probably appeal to certain shopper profiles!
- 4. Smaller pack sizes targeted at convenience (on-the-go) and/or health (smaller portions) were everywhere, often in combination with the above-mentioned ingredient trends. For example, we saw on-the-go couscous cups, quinoa & fish salads for on the road, single-serve beetroot, hummus or carrot chips, …
- 5. Less is more, or more is more. Both philosophies seem equally valid when it comes to packaging design. Clean white designs with trendy, sans-serif fonts alternate with flashy tropical or floral prints that scream ‘luxurious decadence’. In our opinion, the big losers in this battle for the shopper’s (visual) attention are the boring ‘middle-of-the-road’ alternatives, of which we still saw far too many.
In conclusion, we believe that private label manufacturers have successfully and permanently moved beyond me-too products and are now truly competing with A-brands for the retailers’ attention and shelf space. From the lower end to more premium products, from beauty to food and from conventional flavors & designs to more extravagant initiatives: the “World of Private Label” is an intriguing, vibrant and colorful world of innovation and inspiration for any buyer!
PS: Thank you Bergbanket for offering us this great opportunity!