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Where is my product development career going in 2016? Branded or Own Label?

Where is my product development career going in 2016? Branded or Own Label?

16 December 2015

A few years ago this might have been an easy question to answer – big brands were still in the ascendancy with private-label feeling like the poor cousin. The opportunity to go and work for a global (or even UK-based) brand seemed to be infinitely more attractive to many. Now I’m not so sure. The rise of the “discounters”(I hesitate to call them that nowadays, they are so mainstream and ingrained in our shopping habits) are arguably giving own-label a boost – we have certainly seen an uptake in a demand for really great NPD people for own-label businesses - suppliers seem to be also getting more creative – looking for something that little bit different. Competition is fierce. Incidentally, anyone who tells you that Aldi & Lidl aren’t innovating needs to look at the Grocer Own Label Food & Drink Awards for 2015. Lidl won 36 awards, 18 more than Asda and 33 more than Morrison’s. Here are the full details of the awards: http://www.thegrocerownlabel.co.uk/page/2015_winner_by_retailer.html I think about some of the big brands nowadays - how lost some of them look – the way they didn’t see the shifts in consumer preferences and how less spending money amongst consumers meant that the “me too” products exploded in popularity. You could also say that their innovation can take longer to get from concept to launch, with own-label frequently being more nimble and able to react to the latest trends –Free From, Pulled Pork and Craft Beer spring to mind as great examples of own label quickly hitting the zeitgeist. Add to this the changes in the provenance of where food comes from and a mistrust of so-called Big Food and you have a pretty good case for a career in developing own-label. There seems to be a returning appetite (pardon the pun) for more exciting products in fresher categories with fresher ideas. Looking down the list of products being developed for all retailers in the aforementioned awards then you don’t have to look far to find retailers taking a risk with such gems as “Sushi Bento Box” or “Keralan Coconut Curry Sauce” or (my favourite) “Pear, Apple & Green Tea No Added Sugar High Juice”. Back to the main point – what is better for your career? Well, only you can really answer that, but for the first time in ages you genuinely have a choice that won’t detract from your ambition or be detrimental on your CV. Tom Apperley is a Search Recruiter and owner of Harper Anderton, specialists in sourcing today’s talent and tomorrow's leaders exclusively within product development, R&D and innovation across food manufacturing, retail & food service/QSR. Tom has over 10 years’ experience in the consumer space with a particular focus on innovation, He has recruited for some of the best known companies in the UK. He can be contacted on 07951 488 912 or tom@harperanderton.com

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