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Velocity Talks – Catching Up with Private Brand Hall of Fame Member Tom Ewing

Navigating the Evolving Landscape of Private Brands: Insights from Tom Ewing at Velocity Talks

The private brand industry has witnessed transformative changes over the years, shifting from the early days of generic offerings to becoming a powerhouse in retail differentiation. Tom Ewing, an esteemed veteran in the private brand sector, recently shared his wealth of experience and insights with Christopher Durham during a Velocity Institute’s Velocity Talks. The industry leader reflected on his journey, the evolution of the market, and his vision for the future of private brands. Here’s what you need to know.

Key Takeaways:

  • Redefining Retailer-Consumer Connections: Modern private brands have moved beyond transactional elements, becoming tools for retailers to create deep consumer relationships.
  • Risk Mitigation and Innovation in Product Launches: Retailers have the theater to stage their plays – the flexibility to introduce innovative products with less risk compared to brand manufacturers.
  • Guidance for Future Industry Trailblazers: Tom Ewing advises upcoming professionals to let actions speak louder than words and build a reputation through tangible results.

The Evolution of Private Brands: A Journey Through Generations

Since 1987, Tom Ewing has been a part of the private brand landscape, witnessing the transition from generic products to high-quality offerings that are now integral to retailers’ strategies. “Retailers have become more marketing companies than operational companies,” Ewing notes, spotlighting how this shift has allowed private brands to resonate with consumers on a level traditionally held by national brands. Retailers are no longer content with having private brands as mere value alternatives but seek to connect and communicate with their customers through unique, high-quality products.

The Retailer’s Play: Risk and Innovation on the Shelves

Ewing emphasizes the retailer’s advantage in introducing new products. With control over shelf space, retailers can experiment more freely with innovative offerings, minimizing risks involved in product launches that brand manufacturers often face. The refreshing candor of Ewing’s insights touches on a critical advantage for retailers – the flexibility to be adventurous with products, learn from their performance, and adapt with minimal financial fallout. This agility is crucial in today’s fast-paced market where consumer demands continuously evolve.

Pathways for Aspiring Professionals

Through his discussions, Ewing shares golden advice for newcomers in the industry: “Let your actions speak for you more than your words.” This philosophy underlines the importance of building a career based on achievements and concrete contributions, rather than solely on confident rhetoric. As Ewing’s career demonstrates, sustaining a long and successful stint in any industry requires more than just knowledge – it requires the application of that knowledge to produce substantive and impactful results.

Implications for the Future of Private Brands

The ongoing evolution of private brands holds significant implications for the future landscape of retail. Kroger’s success story with its ‘Simple Truth’ brand showcases the potential of private labels in not just surviving but thriving alongside national competitors. The proactive pursuit of innovative and authentic product lines by retailers will likely increase as they seek to differentiate and deliver unique value propositions to their customers. As brands like Kroger’s continue to carve out substantial market shares, expect the private brand industry to play an increasingly dominant role in shaping retail dynamics.

Recapping a Legacy: Upholding Excellence in Private Branding

Tom Ewing’s induction into the Private Brand Hall of Fame serves as a testament to his commitment and leadership in an ever-changing industry. It reminds current and future professionals of the potential to leave a lasting imprint on the sector. His experiences and achievements offer valuable lessons in leveraging private brands as strategic assets and challenge professionals to continue pushing the boundaries of innovation in retail.

The insights from Tom Ewing’s interview underscore the ever-evolving nature of private brands. From fostering meaningful connections between retailers and their consumers to daringly launching new products, the principles guiding the success of private brands remain constant: innovation, risk-taking, and an unwavering focus on the consumer. These pillars, along with a wise word to the wise on professional ethos, pave the way for an exciting future in private brand management.

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By Published On: January 11th, 2024Tags: , ,

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About the Author: Christopher Durham

Christopher Durham is the president of the Velocity Institute. Prior to this he founded the groundbreaking site My Private Brand. He is the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He began his retail career building brands at Food Lion and Lowe’s Home Improvement. Durham has worked with retailers around the world, including Albertsons, Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro Canada. Durham has published seven definitive books on private brands, including Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project and Vanguard: Vintage Originals.

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