Introducing CANDY CON: GameStop’s Bold New Move To Transcend Private Label

April 10, 2024

The opportunity for private label is bigger than ever.

In 2023, U.S. private label sales grew 6% to hit $217billion. More than 58% of U.S. consumers say they are “very likely” to purchase lower-cost alternatives to brand names.

But as markets grow more crowded and consumer expectations get higher, launching a private label is also harder than ever. Because the old approach to private labeling—copy a popular product and package it up in your existing branding—will no longer cut it.   

To be successful at own branding, retailers need to transcend the private label. To stop thinking of private label as an extension, an afterthought, or a nice-to-have. And start thinking like an independent manufacturer; building unique, novel products and distinctive, customer-centric brands.

Our recent collaboration with GameStop is the perfect example. A lesson in innovating beyond private label and creating a whole new brand universe—one that invites you to jump in and play…


Introducing CANDY CON by GameStop

GameStop’s team approached us with an idea to create its own range of gaming accessories: high-quality products at achievable price points, tapping into the profitable millennial and Gen Z market. 

To cut through the noise in the customized controller category (a space that’s already crowded with major players, like Xbox and Playstation) this idea needed to be more than a private label. It needed to be an own brand. 

And so CANDY CON was born.

A distinctive own brand to change the game

Our award-winning creatives and insight-driven strategists set to work, dreaming up a unique brand positioning and identity to launch CANDY CON in April 2024.

Here’s how we brought GameStop’s latest chapter to life through naming, brand identity and packaging.

A market in the gap

Our starting point was to identify a gap in the market and find a community to speak to.

From our research, we noticed that competitors tended to concentrate their efforts on gaming enthusiasts. It was all about product performance, and making the solo player experience more exciting. But there was an untapped audience of casual “co-op” players that no one was catering to. 

These players get their friends and family over for relaxed gaming sessions, where the focus isn’t so much on the latest tech or the most sophisticated controllers, but the immersive, social, and genuinely playful experience of gaming

Speaking to a cultural mood

After that initial market research, the next step was customer insight (defining how to speak to this audience).

Research shows that over 25% of purchasing decisions are influenced by cultural relevance. In other words, it’s important for brands to craft narratives that resonate with consumer emotions. And 49% of people say they are more likely to buy from brands that bring them a sense of joy.

This makes sense given the stressful times we live in, where people are consciously seeking escapism. A moment to say let’s just enjoy ourselves”. So for GameStop, we developed a brand identity rooted in joy: a key emotion in that co-op gaming experience, but also what consumers are craving in a wider cultural context.

Like a kid in a candy store

Based on this insight, “For the fun of it” became our central brand truth. From here, we built out the CANDY CON brand world.

Inspired by the endless excitement and choice of pick n’ mix candy, we designed a visual identity that captured this whimsical, spontaneous spirit. It’s the perfect complement to the visceral experience of mix and match gaming controllers. With swappable mouses and custom faces in a rainbow of colors, CANDY CON puts the fun back into a category that prioritizes function. 

It’s deliberately nostalgia-inducing, evoking a longing for simpler times and inviting customers to rediscover their sense of play.

Cut-through creativity and smart strategy: a recipe for distinctive own branding

CANDY CON is an expression of true branding creativity, resourcefulness and insight. More than just another product line, it’s a confident, strategic move that capitalizes on a gap in the market before anyone else gets there, and seeks to tell a new and real story, rather than copying what competitors are doing. 

This is the path to original, distinctive branding that connects with customers on a meaningful, subconscious level—translating to meaningful impact on your bottom line.

George Essex, Senior Vice President at BRANDED, says:

The launch of CANDY CON shows how GameStop tapped into new opportunities by creating a distinctive brand to strengthen its position in the market and increase sales. Retail brand distinctiveness is so important to stand out in today’s competition, and CANDY CON shows how a retailer can step beyond private label, and become a brand owner, creating their own quality brand as experts in the industry. It was a real privilege to work so collaboratively with a team who were ready and willing to venture into bold new territory. ”

Alex Jones, Director Private Brand and Global Sourcing at GameStop, says:

After working with BRANDED, we now have a distinctive, alternative brand that we can grow in this area, primarily driven around BEST-in-class product, and the ultimate experience in personalization and fun. From point of purchase to playing, with CANDY CON you will really feel like a kid in a candy store.”

Contact us to see how BRANDED can help