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ECRM holds Purpose-Driven Brands Summit in the windy city

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Several dozen buyers and sellers participated in the Retail Safari program.

CHICAGO — ECRM held its first Beauty & Wellness with Purpose Summit earlier this week here. The two-day summit focused on the growing popularity of purpose-driven indie brands.

Purpose-driven brands on the market today focus closely on a niche within a category; they look out for all stakeholders; they seek out partners that share their core values; and they tend to have three times the growth and profitability compared to non-purpose-driven brands.

“This program was designed to introduce retailers to suppliers that have made it their purpose to serve a mission. These brands are socially, environmentally and economically relevant; they have sustainability factors and certifications; and they use only clean label ingredients,” said Wayne Bennett, senior vice president of retail at ECRM.

“In addition, these brands have to have a strong social platform, which helps define these causes and how they are making an impact on the world,” noted ECRM vice president of content Joseph Tarnowski.

The ECRM summit also offered an educational component, featuring WSL Strategic Retail’s popular Retail Safari program, and a keynote on purpose-driven brands by Dan Mack, founder of Mack Elevation.

The program kicked off with Retail Safari, put on by WSL Strategic Retail, which featured a self-guided walking tour of retail outlets in downtown Chicago that are disrupting the beauty, health and wellness categories. Several dozen buyers and sellers participated in the Retail Safari program. The tour featured 10 innovative retail stores across a variety of channels, including UNIQLO, AT&T Flagship, Amazon Go, Walgreens Birchbox concept, Eataly, Nike Lab and the Apple Store.

Following the tour, participants gathered for a debriefing, during which Elizabeth Gretkowski, senior consultant at WSL Strategic Retail, led a discussion of participants’ observations from the store visits as well as a presentation of the business of well and the future of retail.

“Many of these stores are looking towards the future,” she said. “A place that offers self-care, a place where all products come together to deliver a real solution for the shopper. Not category-specific, but end-benefit-specific solutions, giving her solutions to help her be well. And this is the future using technology to deliver solutions that are customized and personalized to the shopper and giving them the control to take their own wellness in the palm of their hands,” Gretkowski added.

Mack led off day two with an engaging and entertaining focus on the “7 Characteristics of Purpose-Driven Brands.”

“Real purpose-driven brands serve multiple stakeholders; have intimate customer connections; create and exploit white spaces; and are agile with a strong growth mindset. The also embrace partners in the spirit of co-creation and are great storytellers,” said Mack.

He said the purpose-driven revolutionary brands are emerging, dynamic, purposeful and highly profitable growth brands that connect “heart and soul” with today’s consumers, especially the Millennials.

Mack pointed out that purpose-driven brands create movements, not just products. “There’s something deeper that they’re pulling from. They also exploit a changing consumer trend with innovation.”

Dan Mack

He continued, “These brands are extremely agile, allowing them to launch, learn and iterate. They are also skilled at co-creation with their partners. In addition, these brands stay in extreme alignment with customers, offering intangible assets. Their advocates share their contagious story, and they also pick partners that align with their values.”

During his presentation he looked at how brands such as RxBar, KIND, Zarbees, Sundial Brands and Hello Products have transformed the categories they operate within. He said many of these brands dramatically outperform the larger, more established brands. “Many of these brands often control less than 10% of the category, and they deliver two to three times the category average growth,” he concluded.


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