Maria Dubuc
Director, MBD; Vice President, Big Red Rooster
Massachusetts, United States

What trends do you see emerging in this year’s entries?
Lots to see and talk about this year! Unique products and a plethora of emerging / growing categories including OTC, Home Improvement, Tools and Electronics. It’s also interesting to see retailers like Woolworths and Sobey’s engaging wellness experts like Michelle Bridges and Jamie Oliver to promote / endorse their products. I’d like to think this is trend towards overall wellness in private brand.

How does looking at the entries from around the world impact your perspective on design and brand? Do you see global trends making their way into your own work?
With our roots in UK retail, global private brands have always been part of our strategic outlook. The Vertex Awards have made it a lot easier to explore and research trends. Hoping to see another Vertex “road show” again this year!
MBD has always found global trends essential to our work. The leadership team take note of the product and packaging innovation, brand sophistication, multi-language challenges, and share these learnings with our creative team and customers on a daily basis.

Which entry (excluding any you may be personally involved in) is your favorite?
Now that’s a tough question! So many inspiring entries – there’s ALDI’s Big Spoon / Little Spoon, Office Depot’s holiday paper lines, Woolworths Delicious Nutricious and The Odd Bunch (slightly bruised fruits), Big Lots! B * Loved, Sobey’s Olive Oils and of course the amazing entries from Jumbo (Pop! Box, vitamin line, etc.). Then there’s the rebrand of Annecy Essence from Hong Kong’s Mannings and the gorgeous Coffee of the World packaging from Portugal’s Sonaemc.

What most concerns you about the future of private brand?
Commoditization of agency selections and design services / retailers allowing cost to drive choices through bidding wars.

What most excites you about the future of private brand?
Creating brands that appeal to a more diverse market. The model of an overarching single brand will continue to appeal to traditional shopping patterns but shoppers are demanding category differentiation and specialty [private] brands. They see no point of difference to the national brands. This makes it a very exciting time for the private brand industry not to mention our creative teams!