Why Brandless, a non-branded brand, is disrupting FMCG

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Valued at $50 million just months after its July 2017 launch, new online retailer Brandless has added more than its five-pence-worth to the disruption going on in the FMCG space this year.

For $3 per item, the store sells everything from food to feminine hygiene, household cleaners and health and beauty products in slick, minimalist packaging.

The promise? All products are free from BrandTax, a Brandless- trademarked term referring to the surcharge consumers pay for branded goods. This surcharge, says Brandless, can be attributed to inefficiencies in the production process and markups ahead of final sale.

The company’s founders Tina Sharkey (Sherpa Capital investor, soon to be full time Brandless CEO) and Ido Leffler (serial entrepreneur and now Brandless chairman) claim that the false narrative of modern consumption -- that brands and products have created – is “dying a fast and painful death”. “Consumers want new options – they don’t necessarily care about buying Heinz
or Tide”, they add.

A brand (which Brandless is, after all) built on the demise of modern brand- led consumption represents an incredible shift in itself, and with instant backing from big name investors such as Redpoint’s Jeff Brody, (investor in holiday rental marketplace HomeAway and expense giant Concur), it’s not one to be taken lightly. Historically, the stories brands created gave consumers a reason to trust them and align with their values. But Brandless is carving out another path, telling consumers they shouldn’t have to pay a premium for transparency and authenticity, discarding brand stories in favour of simplicity and straight-talking.

For savvy millennial shoppers, who spend time considering a range of available product options before selecting a brand whose values speak to their social conscience, Brandless has game-changing potential. The company effectively eradicates choice fatigue by offering a single product option and champions key values millennials typically look for: organic, sustainable, no parabens, no preservatives, no GMO, etc. This means the absence of a familiar brand doesn’t necessarily mean an absence of quality or trust.

Brandless, which Fortune has described as “the next Procter & Gamble for millennials”, seems to be doing what brands have arguably failed to do - provide a meaningful cognitive shortcut
to help consumers cut through the noise. It is without doubt the sign of a changing landscape for FMCG, and with that comes a host of new challenges that the sector should brace itself for in 2018.

Emily Sheen, Flamingo