We can’t call ourselves a brand unless we’re Apple, Nike or Heinz right!?
We’re just purveyors of stuff in the great scheme of things, right?
Some of the biggest, most impactful brands today I’d like to wager you’ve never even heard of!
TODAY, IN 10 MINUTES OR LESS, YOU’LL LEARN:
✔️ Vanquish Framework: What really makes a ‘brand’
✔️ Meet the consumer brands changing everything under the radar
✔️ 5 Lessons from 10 of the fastest-growing brands of 2023
✔️ One random gem from my younger self
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VANQUISH FRAMEWORK: What Really Makes A ‘Brand’
The game has changed. You don’t need to be Proctor & Gamble to build a true brand that not only makes an impact but also changes the way we look at the world.
I want to inspire you to realise that the retail world is no longer a monopoly controlled by the few brand powerhouses that have dominated our shelves for decades, those with the biggest marketing purse.
The consumer wants more than that. She wants authenticity, sustainability, affordability, and accessibility.
It can be done guerilla style, globally, with omnipresence. Without the big purses and men in grey suits.
A true brand today has a story and a unique value proposition that separates it from the white-label pack.
This year’s most innovative companies in the Consumer Goods category aren’t those that sold high-quality, or even amazing, products. They are the ones that transformed how we think about about products altogether, often morphing their craft into practically an art form, or rethinking it in a way that led to a breakthrough. Among the 2023 honorees are brands that shook up simple categories from cookware and spirits to oral hygiene, home decor, and disposable cups.
And do you want to know something else? They aren’t ‘Amazon-native’ or anywhere else-native for that matter! They are omnipresent, and I embrace that wholeheartedly in everything I speak about.
THE BIGGEST BRANDS YOU’VE NEVER EVEN HEARD OF & HOW THEY’RE CHANGING THE WORLD
Empirical, from two ex-Noma chefs, has literally produced a new type of alcohol called freeform with flavours that defy simple categorisation. At a time when so many spirit brands simply pay celebrities to pose with their bottles, and much innovation is now being funnelled toward low- or zero-alcohol variants, Empirical’s founders Lars Williams and Mark Emil Hermansen, alums of the restaurant Noma and the Nordic Food Lab in Copenhagen, sought to reinvent what “alcohol” even is.
They have reimagined age-old distillation processes, which are based on applying heat. Instead, they’ve used vacuums so that the distillation occurs at a lower temperature, better preserving the molecular structure of the flavour compounds.
Empirical hopes its high-end spirits—which often sell out in 24 hours, and have seen 500% revenue growth in America, and 200% in Europe—serve as a catalyst for change by inspiring others in the industry to rethink their processes.
Kraft Heinz, the world’s fifth-largest food company, partnered with a Chilean food-tech startup to create vegan versions of iconic products like Kraft Mayo and Kraft Singles.
North America’s third-largest food company, Kraft Heinz believes its role is to cultivate an “external partnership ecosystem” in the industry to help introduce consumers to food startups’ innovative products at scale. The company continues to grow, with net sales rising in 2022 to $26.5 billion, a 9.8% organic sales growth rate.
In the kitchen, Our Place’s thoughtfully designed kitchen essentials make preparing food not just easier, but more inclusive, too. Already the maker of best-in-class coffee gear, Fellow debuted a pro line of its award-winning equipment, while also beginning to source coffee beans from around the world.
The Always Pan made Our Place internet-famous—this piece of cookware that could replace a skillet, braising pan, roasting pan, griddle, baking dish, spatula, and spoon rest—attracted budget-conscious home cooks of all stripes, and briefly resulted in a 60,000-person waitlist at one point in 2022. The brand, started by Malala Fund co-founder Shiza Shahid, has kept working to make kitchenware more inclusive. The food industry has a history of underrepresenting BIPOC and LGBTQ voices. Our Place leverages its popularity to launch special “Traditionware” collections that celebrate the important food cultures of marginalized or overlooked communities.
Repurpose achieved marine biodegradability for every piece of disposable tableware you’d need for a picnic or party.
Plastic-free disposable tableware brands have proliferated recently, but few can pair innovation with scale as Repurpose does. A glance at its plant-based product lineup, available at 10,000 retail locations, will leave you asking what sort of party-refreshment holder Repurpose hasn’t found a way to make compostable yet: wine and cocktail glasses, cutlery, plates and bowls of all sizes, and trash bags are all accounted for.
San Francisco-based Fellow has combined a passion for coffee and product design, most famously through its Stagg pour-over kettle and Ode grinder, a device that ultimately raised $1.2 million on Kickstarter. In 2022, the company turned to fine-tuning its popular creations. Fellow announced a new $30 million funding round in June to accelerate innovation, add a significant education component, and expand retail beyond its current wholesale partners (Blue Bottle Coffee, La Colombe) and national retailers (Nordstrom, Williams Sonoma, Crate & Barrel, and MoMA Design Stores).
Parachute applied its luxe, sustainable ethos for bedding to a new line of midcentury-modern-inspired home furniture.
After tiptoeing into furniture in 2021, bedding brand Parachute launched a full-on living room collection in October 2022 that features sofas, marble coffee tables, and $900 floor lamps. Heading into 2022, the company acknowledged that as its brand grows, so will its footprint—creating a corporate responsibility to expand Parachute’s sustainability initiatives. This past summer, Parachute launched a pop-up in Nordstrom, marking its first-ever major home and decor collaboration. The brand more than doubled its retail footprint in 2022, and stores score a 93 on the 100-point Net Promoter Score customer-satisfaction rating.
For when you travel from home, high-end luggage brand Paravel crammed a third more recycled materials (used plastic water bottles) into its popular carbon-neutral suitcase. In 2022, the company says it upcycled its 5 millionth plastic bottle into luggage, and in the process doubled 2021’s bottle count. That offset the equivalent of 3,600 cars’ annual emissions. The brand has also planted some 250,000 trees with the help of Eden Restoration Projects.
Uni rolled out the world’s first closed-loop body care refill system.
The personal-care industry is estimated to be responsible for one-third of all single-use plastic in oceans and landfills. In Uni’s kits, consumers find innovative packaging design: A modular system where the dispenser detaches from the bottle, which gets shipped back using a prepaid shipping label, washed, and reloaded.
Elsewhere in the bathroom, Suri introduced what it calls Earth’s most sustainable electric toothbrush. Since its launch in May 2022, Suri’s toothbrush has cleaned up on design accolades, making the best-of lists of design-centric magazines like Monocle and Wallpaper*, and winning Dezeen’s public vote for 2022 product design of the year.
Finally, fresh off reinventing home interior wall paint, Backdrop turned to wallpaper, debuting stylish prints that are exhaustively tested for chemical emissions and mould resistance.
So how many of these 10 super-brands have you heard of? Maybe just Kraft-Heinz right?
Regardless of category, these innovators are proving that there is always room for new brands in established categories. Will you be next?
Crediting ‘Fast Company’ for the research and context on this article. Read more here.
5 LESSONS FROM 10 OF THE FASTEST-GROWING BRANDS OF 2023
💥 There is room for new brands in established categories, regardless of the competition. But you can’t be lazy about it.
💥 Sustainability is clearly not just a luxury anymore. If you can build it into your brand and process early, you will win over the consumer whilst helping the planet we live on.
💥 The young blood believes in boring, durable products just as much as we do. You thought they were all in Silicon Valley building SAAS right? Wrong. There’s gold in good old-fashioned industry!
💥 Everything is re-imaginable. Don’t worry if you’re not an innovator though, sometimes your unique brand story or your ‘why’ is enough. Sometimes product differentiators are enough. We can’t all change the world, but we can strive to stand out in a noisy market.
💥 Finally, you guessed it. How many of these brands are ‘Amazon-native’ or ‘geographically-native’. None. Nada. I will continue to hammer this home until it sticks.
ONE RANDOM GEM FROM MY YOUNGER SELF
For 20 years, I have been filling Peter Pauper Press journals with notable quotes, wisdom and things to remember. I write privately, for me. Now I want to share one with you exactly as I wrote it then:
“Simplicity Is Key. Create Systems Of Simplicity. What Would This Look Like If It Were Easy?”
😵 TikTok Shopping Ambitions Face Blow as Indonesia Plans Curbs
😎 Amazon Takes a Big Stake in the A.I. Start-Up Anthropic
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