Consumer executives on positioning yourself for brand success

    In today's consumer market, being a mere trendsetter no longer suffices; real success hinges on leaving a significant imprint. In an industry that holds authenticity in high regard, we recently gathered meaningful insights from top consumer executives on what it takes to position yourself for brand success and capture the interest of discerning investors. These conversations go beyond the conventional, offering a glimpse into the core principles that underpin thriving brands and attract the attention of the capital markets community.

    The power of authenticity

    In the journey to create an influential brand with endurance, authenticity takes center stage. It's more than a strategic marketing tactic; it's about creating products that meet consumers' demands for quality and affordability, and that also deeply resonate with their core values. In today's world, mastering the art of engaging consumers starts with a company's commitment to fostering meaningful connections that your market genuinely feels and believes in. No one exemplifies this better than Tabitha Brown, an Emmy-nominated actress, New York Times bestselling author, and social media personality, whose road to global success underscores the non-negotiable importance of staying true to oneself while striving to make a household name and reminds us that authenticity goes beyond the transient pursuit of trends and the pressure to conform to external molds. Her mantra is simple, "The moment I stopped trying to fit in, I began to stand out." Standing out isn't merely about being distinctive for the sake of it; it's about intimately knowing who you are and allowing that identity to permeate every aspect of your brand, from its messaging to its manufacturing processes, right down to the individuals who proudly stand behind it.

    Authenticity includes aligning with consumers who see DEI not as a separate initiative but as a reflection of a company's belief system. Today's industry leaders champion Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) through their brand's messaging and meaningful values that are put into action. For them DEI is not a trend to capitalize on but a profound belief and movement around which they build their brands. It signifies something broader that the consumer wants to get behind – a brand's commitment to being socially responsible.

    Consumers want brands with a purpose

    Building a lasting brand with endurance and legacy requires a multifaceted approach, with a core focus on giving back and fostering a sense of community. Today’s conscious consumers want cleaner products that are better for you, and better for the environment, that they can afford; this is something the founders of Raw Sugar Living understood when they created the brand back in 2015. A natural lifestyle brand on a mission to promote clean and healthy living for all through their bath, body, hand, hair, and lip products. Raw Sugar’s Chief Financial Officer, Jonathan Weiss, highlighted that their critical strategy is to “go big or go home” by offering a key set of high-performing SKUs (referred to as Hero SKUs) across multiple categories. Brands must challenge themselves to consistently innovate while recognizing that perfection isn't the goal. Instead, it's about collectively improving and constantly learning while making a positive impact on people's lives. This sense of gratitude for the opportunity to make a difference is what sets brands apart. The philosophy is to simplify, not to chase every dollar but to build something where everyone can thrive, understanding that it's a long, 100-year journey, “and if you approach your brand that way, you’ll keep finding new partners along the road who will help you on your journey”, Weiss said.

    Right partners. Right actions.

    Industry leaders understand that the lifeblood of their success lies in forging the right relationships. Just as authenticity serves as the heart of a company, the right partnerships are the body that moves a company’s vision into action. These alliances take on various forms, ranging from the founders who believe in their brand's purpose to the loyal customers who embrace its products. From the investors who fuel growth to the skilled manufacturers who craft quality, to the service providers who provide critical guidance, to the curated language that embodies the brand's voice to the target market that feels genuinely heard and seen – partnerships are the threads that weave the tapestry of a brand’s longevity and can secure its evolution. Finding the right partners transcends fitting into predefined categories or proving worth through a single product or SKU. Instead, it involves establishing connections with those authentically aligning with the brand's vision. As Tabitha mentioned, “know what you know, but more importantly, know what you don’t know” and have the right team of advisors to help you along the way.

    CohnReznick’s consumer and transactional advisory professionals have a unique advantage having worked with many fast-growing consumer brands. This experience means our team of professionals know what has worked and what hasn’t, and can be a pivotal advisor to launching your brand to the next level.

    Investors, too, hold a pivotal role. The search for investors extends beyond financial backing; it delves into finding individuals with genuine operational experience. These investors comprehend the brand's unique challenges and possess the potential to amplify its growth. The market is witnessing a paradigm shift, where investors increasingly prioritize integrity and a commitment to making a positive impact. They forge partnerships with brands not solely driven by profit but by a shared belief in tapping into overlooked markets ripe for potential.

    Diversification and profitable growth

    Diversification in today's consumer market is a multifaceted strategy that embraces both digital and physical realms. This entails integrating the agility of e-commerce with brick-and-mortar establishments, creating an omnichannel presence. However, this transition to a diversified approach is about more than expanding reach; it necessitates meticulous planning, especially when venturing into the brick-and-mortar domain. Building a profitable P&L structure ensures the business's sustained success while safeguarding wholesalers' viability within the market. This emphasis on solid fundamentals differentiates this approach from the challenges often faced by DTC-native brands.

    Diversification prompts a critical question: Is it solely about growth, or is it about profitable growth? This query gives rise to a broader concept – a stakeholder mindset. The goal is to construct a business that benefits all parties, from dedicated employees to valued retailers and committed investors. Profitability evolves from a mere aspiration to a tangible reality through this alignment of interests. Profitable growth transcends expansion; it helps ensure that all stakeholders, from employees to investors, reap the rewards. This perspective transforms the business into a sustainable entity, fostering an environment where everyone is deeply vested in a company’s longevity. By viewing employees, retailers, and investors as integral components of the business ecosystem, the approach shifts toward creating a thriving atmosphere where everyone actively contributes to the common goal. In this approach, success becomes a shared endeavor where the business prospers, employees flourish, retailers thrive, and investors realize substantial returns on their investment.

    In this collaborative spirit, diversification becomes a holistic vision where everyone has a stake and the goal is not so much to get on the shelf, but to stay there.

    The final word

    Successful brands hinge on the owners’, founders’, investors’, and partners' understanding of how their collective contributions shape a product's place globally. It's not just about trends and profit margins; it's about the indomitable spirit of authenticity, the power of forging meaningful partnerships, the commitment to fostering inclusivity, and the passion and drive to impact culture for the better. The necessity for the right guidance, the right know-how, and the minds and hearts attuned to the intricacies of exemplary brand building all play a role in crafting brands that not only stand the test of time but redefine the very meaning of success.


    Cindy McLoughlin, Partner, Assurance


    Margaret Shanley, Principal, Value360 - Transactional Advisory


    Subject matter expertise

    • cindy mcloughlin
      Contact Cindy Cindy+McLoughlin
      Cindy McLoughlin

      CPA, Managing Partner, Consumer, Hospitality, and Manufacturing Practice

    • Margaret Shanley
      Contact Margaret Margaret+Shanley
      Margaret Shanley

      Principal, Transaction Advisory Services Practice Leader

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    This has been prepared for information purposes and general guidance only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. You should not act upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining specific professional advice. No representation or warranty (express or implied) is made as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this publication, and CohnReznick LLP, its partners, employees and agents accept no liability, and disclaim all responsibility, for the consequences of you or anyone else acting, or refraining to act, in reliance on the information contained in this publication or for any decision based on it.