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Ep. 9 : Brand Synergies: The Rise of Retail Collaborations in CPG

Episode 9:  Brand Synergies: The Rise of Retail Collaborations in CPG


In this episode, Christine and Trevor discuss brand collaborations in the CPG industry. They share recent examples of brand collaborations, such as influencers launching their own CPG brands and partnerships between McDonald's and nail polish companies, Krispy Kreme and McDonald's, and Mattel and Ollie pop. They also discuss trends in retail, including Walmart's new private label brand, the removal of self-checkouts in some stores, and the use of AI in nail salons. The hosts provide insights for brand managers considering collaborations, such as understanding the merchant's objectives, sharing costs and real estate, and being willing to take risks. They end the episode with personal reflections on the importance of hard work and experience.



  • Discover how brand collaborations are becoming increasingly popular in the CPG industry, with influencers launching their own CPG brands and partnerships between different brands.
  • Find out trends in retail include the introduction of new private label brands, the removal of self-checkouts in some stores, and the use of AI in nail salons.
  • Christine & Trevore share personal reflections include the importance of hard work and the value of experience in a specific field and so much more!



00:00 Introduction to Brand Collaborations
01:27 Recent Personal Experiences in Retail
10:55 Trends in Retail: Private Label Brands, Self-Checkouts, and AI
22:07 Personal Reflections: Hard Work and Experience


BlueLightSpecialPodcast (00:02.702)
Welcome to Blue Light Special, the podcast for CPG brand marketers who want to lighten up their hustle in retail and real life. I'm Christine Wright. And I'm Trevor Lewis. We're here to decode the mysteries of retail and give you some insider hacks to make your brand talk the shelf. Let's get into this week's episode.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (00:28.974)
Welcome and let's get into this week's episode where we explore brand collaborations. First, let's get into what's happening in our worlds. And as you're talking brand collaborations, they are definitely dominating conversations in CPG marketing this year. And we're not even halfway through the year. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Brand collabs. you know, really nothing new. The fashion industry footwear have been releasing brand clubs for years. I think everyone understands the Jordan brand.
when you think about some of those you know legacy collabs but here's the twist it's not just for fashion brands jumping on the collab game we're seeing it everywhere and let's admit as a consumer we can't wait to see what goes next. No it's pretty interesting. So our first segment we're gonna jump into show and tell where Chrissy and I share the most recent personal experiences in retail and you know
I'm going to hijack this one for a second because I think we're seeing a lot of the influencers, creators, whatever category you want to put them in, make a splash in the CPG. I think, you know, Mr. Beast and the, the feastables are one of the more notable ones. one of my favorites, Jay Shetty, and his wife, huge fan of Jay and obviously his wife is right there alongside them as well. But, they launched their sparkly tea brand. I think it's called.
Juni, if I pronounced that right. I think so. And Target. So, obviously I followed, Jay and then, you know, subscribe to a lot of the different podcasts or podcasts that he offers. and you know, if you know something about those two and if you follow them, you know, they have an engaged audience. Very engaged. Definitely engaged. And so as you see more of these influencers jump into the CPG game,
I can just imagine that the buyer conversations and the buyer merge conversations are slightly different when you say, Hey, this is who I am. This is the level of impressions that I'm going to bring to the table. They can prove it. It's not just word of mouth. They can prove it. They can prove it. And, you know, they don't have to go and seek influencers to help drive, create awareness and drive foot traffic. They've already done that. They've already done it. And so I think if I was in the merchant seat, I would enjoy.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (02:50.222)
learning about some of these emerging brands that already have what everyone wants, which is attention. so congrats to Jay and his wife. I haven't tried the tea yet. So I'm gonna have to try it, but, yeah, if you're not a Jay Shetty fan, then maybe you don't think it's as cool as I do, but, I definitely thought it was cool to see them make that splash into a CPG. Well, along those lines, we are ready to offer our shout outs.
We love to acknowledge brands that are getting it right. So Trevor, who is on your radar? So, you know, back to my little one and she definitely keeps me on my toes and aware of the latest collaborations, especially when it's in, you know, to do with nails. So nails and McDonald's.
I'm just did a little partnership. You have to go check them out. I don't think most people do, but you'll have to. My girls are older, so I miss out. It's a nail polish kit. Yeah. McDonald's. Okay. Partnered with Nails, N -A -I -L -S, which obviously I don't know how to spell it, but it's the actual company. So check them out. Type it into Google, Nails, McDonald's, Fry's, Nail Polish. And you'll be mesmerized. Apparently.
But I thought that it was it's interesting I mean To put McDonald's with nails and talking about kind of the tween market with your daughter. It makes perfect sense Yes, I actually seen you know, one of the kids that one of her practices came in with Crocs as well and they were McDonald's branded Crocs with the happy mill all the little icon
McDonald's themed. So you can see that they're definitely kind of playing with different areas with their brain. Another one, not nail polish related. Totally not nail polish related. The Guardian caps. I don't know if anyone has, you know, understands, you know, what this brand is, but the Guardians caps essentially is a product that is used with football and it goes on top of your helmet. Kind of funky looking. It is a little funky looking. It looks like a, you know,

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (05:04.494)
like a marshmallow on top of your helmet. But everyone understands how, you know, what they're trying to do, which is reduce, reduce, you know, head injuries. and that is the one of the steps that they've had. Now they've been utilizing these, guardian caps during practice.
However, the NFL just acknowledged that they're gonna allow players to use them during the game. So it's gonna be interesting to see who chooses to it's not mandatory I guess it's probably doesn't appear to be mandatory at this point You know, I think that if you go and you know Google some of the comments that are out there Not everyone's a huge fan of them But you know, I think for kudos to the guardians for being able to kind of take that next step the NFL does have a challenge which is you know, how do we?
Continue to protect our athletes, but also, you know, how will this impact? Other levels of football as well. So keep an eye out on the Guardians I think that will probably see this trends into the collegiate the high school the youth level as well because they know that they have a problem that they got to solve for and I think they see this as you know, one of the ways that they can do it so again shout out to those guys and gals that are leading the way there.
Beekeeper Coffee and Taco Bell, another - Where do you find these? Limited edition. So I'm about 2 PM, 3 PM. I'm always looking at like, I need a little pick me up. I get up fairly early. And so I kind of have that midday where I start to nose dive. And so I think they're leaning into that as well. So the Beekeeper Coffee just partnered with Taco Bell for a limited edition cold brew latte to in fact serve that midday pick me up. So another brand collab that you got to keep your eye on. And if you enjoy coffee, you may, you know, try a little beekeeper coffee. What have you seen? Well, I have a couple too that are probably a little odd and you might not have heard of them. I knew Matthew McConaughey had some kind of alcohol brand and he does. He and his wife have Pantalone's maybe.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (07:14.67)
Organic tequila. And I just saw that they came out and released in honor of No Pants Day, the Pantalone's Pickle Margarita, which includes ice, jalapenos, pickle juice, lime juice, agave, and of course the Pantalone's Organic Tequila. And they're on the pickleball court with no pants on for no pants day. The commercial was great. Christine definitely shared it with me. And yeah, I mean, anything that, you know, Matthew McConaughey does, I think definitely gets a little bit of attention. He just has this comedic air about him during the whole ad. So I really, really do like that one. And then leaning into pickleball. So it wasn't a tennis court. It was a pickleball court. Yeah, pickleball. And I know that pickleball is, you know, fairly a big thing to do. It's a big deal now.
Yeah. And specifically here in Kansas city. And, I definitely say that there's the, a lot more drinking that happens in the pickleball sitting than in the tennis courts. So it's a little less action. Yes. Yes. Less injury. There was another one. I think you noted as well. Yes, there was. I know we've previously talked about Heinz and Barbie Mattel doing a collab promotion together for the Barbie movie. And now Mattel is doing another one with Ollie pop and Barbie.
And they're doing a limited edition, Ollie pop Barbie peaches and cream flavor. And it's kind of hinting at there may be a launch for a peaches and cream Barbie, but Mattel and Ollie pop. It's just, it's just two brands. You just would never think you're going to go together, which is how most of these are. Yeah. Mattel is there. They with the Barbie, they shoot their shot. I mean, they are, they are taking that movie as far as they possibly can for promotion. Yes. Yeah. And as far as I can tell, they seem to be hitting it. And I will say on the baseball note, that's my kids walk up song for batting this Barbie girl. So I will continue to hear that for a while. But one more that I did see, which you and I talked about is Krispy Kreme donuts with your McDonald's order.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (09:32.238)
Krispy Kreme provides fresh donuts daily at McDonald's restaurants nationwide. It's crazy. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I think that's a bit of a reinvent yourself play for Krispy Kreme. you know, I, I remember there was just like this, you know, I'll say back in the day, but when I was a kid, there wasn't a Krispy Kreme, the ability to get access to them was far less than what it is today.
And so you'd go to certain cities that would have one and the line was like out the door because of just who they were. And so I think now you've got to kind of figure out how do we reinvent ourselves? How do we, you know, become a little bit more flexible and how we introduce our products. And so that partnership with McDonald's is. Yeah. I mean, I don't know that I would go to McDonald's and get a crispy cream salty, sweet. I mean, but I know that plenty of people go to McDonald's just for coffee. Yes, they do.
So I can see where there's a nice little pairing. All right. It's time for hurt on the streets. By side with retailers or brands on the daily. We are in the know when it comes to trends. Christine, what is a trend? You got your eye on the trends that I've been seeing. And there's actually a lot out there. There's a lot of noise in this arena right now. But Walmart just announced a new private label grocery brand called Better Goods.
Most items are priced under $5 and they're focused on three key components culinary experience plant -based and I thought this was interesting kind of quote made without So I think they're They're not the first ones to do it I think others have done it and so they're kind of jumping on that bandwagon, but really playing to more of the Trader Joe exclusivity line of food and groceries. Obviously, they're big moneymaker. I Well, I'm watching because I definitely shop at Trader Joe's. It's my primary grocery. You have one close. So, yeah, very close convenience. You know, and so, but I also do frequent Walmart quite a bit as well. So I'll definitely have my eye on it. Trader Joe's does a great job of not only having quality products, but they also kind of create this level of like exclusivity to them. And so.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (11:53.742)
You know, I know that my mom has recently came to Kansas City and also loves Trader Joe's, but she does not like it when they no longer are carrying her favorite thing. And so - That is kind of annoying. It's kind of like going to a restaurant and they've taken your favorite thing off the name. Yes. Yes. And so, you know, I think someone like Walmart will, I don't know how they're going to navigate that, but I also know that you're frequently trying new stuff at Trader Joe's. And I think it's because everyone that I've spoken to is like, you - and you've rarely had anything bad there. And so I think that helps them really introduce new products. And so I'm curious on how Walmart will market some of this. Trigio also does a great job of showing you with tasting samples. So I know that's a staple that Walmart's laid into. Will they do that with their own brand? Will they show the right pairings and help consumers kind of understand, you know, mix this with that or try this with that?

Because I think that's what I really enjoy with a Trader Joe's is I know what the way is gonna be good They also have you know a policy that if it's not good you bring it back And so as they jump into this Obviously, they know what they're doing at Walmart. They have lots of inside and shoppers So I'm sure they'll be just fine. But even the simplification of the packaging that was kind of reading Maybe as a creative director that kind of led this initiative Kind of just really highlighting you know how they navigate the packaging and the simplistic approach a lot of thought went into it Yeah, a lot of thought as well as just the naming you mentioned as well. So Cool. What else another one which I think you're either on you're not on the fence with this one You're gonna like it or you don't Walmart Target and Dollar General are starting to get rid of self checkouts I myself don't mind them if it's ten items or less, but I don't want to be standing behind somebody shopping for a month
It's a full cart. But they did say they believe the changes will improve the in -store shopping experience and give associates the chance to provide more personalized and efficient service. I'm with you on this. You know, personally, there's there's times that it can be convenient. I'd say my number is probably even less than 10. It probably needs to be like five because I feel like I always have a challenge and then you're waiting for the store associate to come over and...

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (14:17.198)
and I always buy a lot of fruit and those are always a pain in the ass to ring up on a self checkout. I do not like self checkout. I do. If I'm like, I got to run in and get like two things that I can scan, scan. Here's the money. It definitely has its place, but if I have a full cart of groceries, not interested in that. I'll stand in the law. The only cash register that is open with 60 people in line just to not go there.
So I think it's the right move. I mean, they tried it and I think it had the idea of speed, convenience was there. But I think ultimately that's a destination within a store that people really want it to be done for them, right? Put it in the box, put it in the... They don't want to have to do it themselves. They don't. They just really don't want to do it themselves. And so...
Aldi still probably continue to do what they do. Yeah, you will pack your own at Aldi's and you'll pay a quarter for the car. But you understand that, right? You know it going in. Going in there, you know you got to find a few boxes along the way. You know you're going to get a little bit more cost savings because that's kind of their model. So I think they'll continue to be successful at that, but good to see that they've kind of learned. And I think that that's something all of us can continue to do. You just put it out there, test it, and learn from it. Try it, learn, and evolve.
and well, this one is much different than changing. You and your nails. Nails. You're really on that track today. Nails, nail salons, and really just thinking about that. A lot of innovation is happening in those environments. Specifically, I think we've seen, you know, the emergence of AI and what it's going to do with retailers such as Ulta and Target. I know they're testing some of this now.
You know, I'm not sure that it's fully rolled out, but I know that they're testing AI, which you can kind of the way the video that I saw is you slide your very cool. You slide your hand in there. It's kind of like the, the, the soda feet, like the Coca -Cola where you like choose. yeah. At the movie theater. Yes. It's like you choose what you want. I'm sure you choose Joe or whatever all the options are. I'm way too informed on.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (16:27.918)
I know I know that's why I was like nails today is like right underneath there and One finger to time and it was almost like a little digital printer on your on your nail It was crazy and I think didn't we see I might I might totally be quoting this wrong, but it was like ten dollars It was much more cost -effective. Yeah, and if you go in there and hang out although I don't I'll go for a pedicure not a manicure, but I really go for the massage chair
So those are a few trends. Yes. So that brings us to the topic of today's podcast. The main topic, which we've kind of been hinting at and talking about this whole time, which is brand collaborations. But now we're kind of more into retailer and brand collaborations instead of brand to brand or maybe celebrity to brand. Yeah. So, you know, I think the, we always try to think about what would.
You know, if I'm sitting in a brand manager role and I have this idea, what are some of the things that you may want to consider before you pitch this to your boss, pitch this to someone else? And, you know, I think that, look, the collaboration isn't going anywhere. We're going to continue to see this. I think we've even, we've seen this and we've even executed displays where they're, you know, co -collaborated, you know, brands being represented on a single display.
And there's a lot of benefits. I think, you know, if the merchants and the merchants are always looking at how do we elevate the category. So I think that was just kind of lends itself to, you know, sharing a space, sharing a display, sharing cost. But understanding that as a, one of the merchants objectives and goals is to elevate the entire category. I think that that's something that's in favor of a brain manager that may be looking at doing something, you know, slightly different than what they've historically done in that category is just understanding what the merchant's objectives are. The other thing is, you know, everywhere across all companies, they're scrutinizing costs right now. And so when you think about, you know, a display and the economics of display, you understand that there's costs involved. And so, you know, and brands got to be scrappy right now. And so one of the ways that you can share that cost and share that real estate on there.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (18:49.358)
Share the real estate. yes, you may be carrying your competitors right next to, to, to you, but you're ultimately elevating the entire category again. But in this case, you're sharing costs and that can be another benefit of, you know, how do you create a unique experience, but don't shoulder all of the costs as the brand. that's on the way. What's any other. Well, I have seen as far as if we're still talking brand a brand, I've had clients where it's.
It might be the three category captains. So you talked about elevating the category. So those three category captains are going to join forces and share a display and each of them are going to get a side, which makes perfect sense. But then I've also seen within the same category, not just the category captains. And we had a program where there were 22 different suppliers. So you've got everybody from category captains to some of them only had a few skews, but they all came together for a holiday or a mother's day promotion to elevate the entire category, which at the end of the day is what the merchants want, not just askew, they want the entire category elevated. When you're talking retailer to retailer colabs, I mean, we've all seen dropping Sephoras into Coles or dropping Oltas into Target. Now it's Petco's and Lowe's and Claire's keeps dropping in everywhere. They're in Walmart, now they're in all the Walgreens. See their purple stuff? Yeah, purple everywhere, but.
At the end of the day, that retailer is just trying to capture bigger baskets, more of the shopper purchase. And if you can do that by dropping in known retailers or brands like a Sephora, if you're already in Kohl's, that's a no -brainer to do that. So yeah, there you heard a few different ways that we may approach it. I think the other thing is just...
Take on some risks, be willing to try something. As we talked earlier in the show, Walmart, Target, they tried self checkouts. They ultimately learned it might not be the ideal consumer experience. Walmart tried the health centers and we just saw this week they were shuttering the whole thing. You're absolutely right. So a collaboration doesn't guarantee it's going to change the game for your brand or your organization.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (21:07.63)
But I think both as a consumer, we're looking at this, we're paying attention to it, we're kind of seeking what's going to kind of happen next. Also as a consumer, you're looking at just pattern interrupt, right? Just do something different, something new and different. And so maybe if we're lucky, we'll kind of have a guest come on that's truly experienced doing some of this and what would be some of the lessons learned just through shared collaboration.
Alright for our last segment where we want to give you a glimpse into our own minds We all have those moments where we reflect learn remind ourselves of certain truths for me It's memo to myself and for Christine. It's her I am for the day It's a chance for us to be a bit vulnerable share our thoughts and maybe some of it will resonate with you So my memo to myself today It it actually is definitely top of mind for me, which is written down. I'm just waiting for the, nobody cares work harder. but it's not actually what I, you know, I stole that from Cameron Haynes. I don't know if any of you, you know, or, you know, familiar with who Cameron Haynes is a little background of him. He's an avid outdoorsman. he really pushes himself to, just evolve every single day with his health, but he kind of has this, he's big into boat hunting as well. He's big into training.
He's, he's an influencer. and he has this shirt that he's always promoting, which is nobody cares, work harder. and you know, I think that's, you know, the memo to myself for sure right now is, at the end of the day, nobody really cares. Just work harder. So, you know, yeah, that was my memo to myself. That's a good one. That's a very good one. Well, my I am for the day and my I am comes from my group of accountability partners in the mornings. We text each other and ask each other, what are you today?
Before we start our days. And today just mine comes from overhearing something in the office. You're gonna laugh since I say this, but I am experienced and I overheard Tia, our business development gal, who's wonderful. She's awesome. I think she was in your office and she came and started asking you questions. She's kind of new to retail. And she said, you know, I can usually pick stuff up pretty fast.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (23:31.854)
How does Christine know all of this stuff? And your answer was, she's just been doing it for a really long time. So that came to me, I really am experienced, but not many people these days continue to do the same job they did when they started out. I'm kind of one of the few left that this is what I started doing 25 years ago and I'm still doing it. So the experience just comes with those years evolving at bats and we're definitely thankful. And, yeah, I've shared it around more than one time on this show of, of just, how often we are able to benefit off your experience. And, yeah, luckily for, for Tia that she sets right across from you. She's always asking, what's this mean? She's always all of the acronyms, all of the, you know, why are they doing this? Or would this be someone good for us to engage with and why or why not? And so, I know that she's, you know, been fortunate to directly benefit from just the close proximity. She keeps it spicy. You mentioned I'm going to say something in the office. I was like, I don't know if that's appropriate. All right. Well, that's all we got for this episode. We're definitely grateful to have you along for the ride as we lighten up your hustle through retail and real life. Thanks for listening and keep your questions and comments coming. We love tuning in to what you want to know about helping your brand stand out in store.
Please like and share the podcast. We appreciate your help getting the word out about Blue Light Special. Finally, join us for next week's episode where we will dig into logistics and supply chain with our guest, Nick Giuliani. This podcast is a production of In -Store Design Display, the go -to expert for guiding and elevating your in -store experience. Our wordsmith, Julie Edge, and mix master, Jackie Vera make all of this possible.
So a big thanks to them and the entire team at InStore Design Display. Stay tuned for our next episode on YouTube or wherever you consume podcasts. We'd love to hear from our listeners, so please drop us a line and tell us what you want to hear about retail and real life.

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