Challenger brands, which set themselves apart with an intent to bring change to an industry, are driving massive change across the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry. From 2008-2018, more than 4,000 small consumer goods companies received $9.8 billion of venture capital funding1, changing dynamics in categories as diverse as deodorant, protein bars and pet food. At the same time, in order to grow their sales, these brands are bridging the gap between selling exclusively online and building an in-store presence.
Many of these nimble brands began online, offering their niche products directly to passionate consumers. But a few years into this phenomenon, many challenger brands are beginning to expand into brick-and-mortar retail. And retailers are eager to welcome them, as they themselves are transitioning to be expert curators of differentiated brands that appeal to their unique shoppers. This transition has the potential to be a win-win for everyone, but it must be managed carefully. Packaging and merchandising displays play a critical role.
From clicks to bricks
WestRock has supported several brands through this transition. One great example is Harry’s, the men’s shaving company, which started as a digital native brand and now has a presence in many retail stores. WestRock worked with Harry’s to bring the brand to life uniquely at different retailers through merchandising displays aptly named “Dude and Dog Endcap,” which won a 2018 Design of the Times platinum award, and “Shower Dude,” which won a 2019 Outstanding Merchandising Achievement gold award.
The WestRock merchandising displays team also supported skincare line Sun Bum in making the transition from a lifestyle brand-structured environment—the California surf shop—to a more mass-merchandise, retailer-structured environment. The strategy was to introduce Sun Bum to Target shoppers and showcase the brand as a full skincare line beyond sunscreen. The endcap design drew on insights about millennial shopper preferences at Target with its uncluttered and organized merchandising, playful imagery and high-end feel. The three-dimensional bathtub with Sun Bum’s iconic monkey played on the shopper’s sense of humor and evoked an emotional connection with the sentiment of bath time. The display won an Outstanding Merchandising Achievement gold award in 2019.
 “The New Model for Consumer Goods,” McKinsey and Company, April 2018.
 WestRock Packaging Matters 2018.