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Ep. 6 : The Growing Role of Consultants in the CPG Industry

Episode 6: The Growing Role of Consultants in the CPG Industry


In this episode, the hosts discuss the role of consultants in the CPG industry, both for emerging brands and established brands. They highlight the growth of consultants after the pandemic and the need for specialized expertise in different channels. They also mention the importance of bringing outside insight into businesses. The hosts explore the different types of consultants, such as broker consultants and Amazon consultants, and how they can help brands launch into retail or gain premium space. They also discuss the rise of experiential marketing and the importance of interacting with consumers. The episode concludes with the hosts sharing their daily routines and reflecting on the importance of growth through failure.


  • The role of consultants has grown in the CPG industry, with more brands seeking specialized expertise in different channels.
  • Consultants can help brands launch into retail or gain premium space by leveraging their knowledge and relationships.
  • Experiential marketing is on the rise, with brands creating unique and interactive experiences for consumers.
  • Daily routines and morning rituals play a crucial role in setting the tone for a productive day.
  • Growth often comes through failure, and it's important to take corrective action and learn from mistakes.


00:00 Introduction

04:13 Specialized Expertise: The Key to Launching into Retail

09:14 Experiential Marketing: Creating Memorable Brand Experiences

29:39 Growth Through Failure


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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.

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Welcome, Let's get into this week's episode where we explore the role of the consultant for emerging brands launching their products, but also the consultant role is popping up with existing and established brands as well, primarily to help them obtain additional space in the store. So I'm excited to jump in on this episode. I know last episode we had Justin, who is in fact a consultant and operates in this arena. So I think that that is something we're going to piggyback on this. But.

Look, the role of consultants, it's everywhere. Now I think we can even take a look inside our own business and say, Hey, you know, there's three to four consultants in our business working in different capacities and on different projects all the time. I honestly think it's because, and really I saw just the growth after the pandemic, but there's so many more channels to be in now and so many more places that you have to have.

content and that you have to exist in that we're starting to see people specialize in those channels. And so we're asking for that expertise to be brought to us. Yeah. You're spot on. I think the way that I also think about it is you're renting expertise. And, you know, before you would always try to have somewhat of a generalist or with a level of specialist that they would bring to the table.

Um, but not only for brands, but it's in business in general. Um, I think you're looking for some very niche expertise often, and it's definitely sped up post pandemic, uh, for sure. Um, but I think that's one thing that no matter your business, uh, I love the idea of running expertise. I also love the idea of bringing outside insight into your business.

And I think within the framework that we work in, which is with brands helping them tell their story on shelf, we've just started to see the beginning of the consultant, in my opinion. I think to your point, there's consultants that are working to help you tell that story in app. There's consultants that are helping you and that's a broker consultant. And it's Basically you're renting their expertise of the category, the relationships and everything they can kind of bring to that table in that.

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kind of broker is more of the buzzword that I think you hear from time to time in the CPG world. And then you also have Amazon. You have specific consultants there and I'm sure there's a multitude of other consultants that are impacting businesses. But, you know, I think it's not going anywhere. It's not, no. I think it's either consultant or broker. I think that they can be used interchangeably, but the way I've seen it and experienced it just...

from my business aspect is I partner with these people because they're helping brands to either launch into retail or gain more premium space in retail. And once that happens, then they're referred to me to then capitalize on that space. So the referral partnerships that I've had with consultants or brokers has been really good over the past few years. And then I've also had, as emerging brands come to us, then I've kind of reciprocated that back to

hey, these brands are looking to get into XYZ retailer or they're trying to land in cap space, they're already in there. And so I will refer them back to the consultants or brokers. Because what it appears, if you just kind of look at a lot of their expertise has been on the retailer side for the most part. And so they have a significant amount of understanding about.

you know, how it works inside. Let's just take Target as an example. And so I know that we recently had a great conversation with a consulting group that was Target specific brokers and specific specialists. And a lot of that's because they've sat on that side before. And so they're able to now, you know, advocate, but also support. And it was an emerging brand that they were supporting because that was a brand new retailer that they haven't launched in. And so how could that brand's rent expertise?

I'm sure was intriguing in their business. And so that was just one example. But I think the commonality that we've seen is they often bring this expertise. Yeah, they're usually at least not always, but a lot of the times post pandemic, a lot of the long time retail, you know, aficionados left the big retailers had all of that knowledge and then started consultancies to then help new emerging brands or established brands.

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to excel within that retailer because they had that knowledge. So what are there, are there any, I mean, we've kind of talked about the broker consultant and understanding their play. Is there any other, I mean, I think you're seeing just in the creative side as well. Are there any other common themes that you're, that you've heard or seen recently in which a brand is an engaging a consultant? Uh, yeah, I will say.

It's either an individual consultant or broker, or there are a lot of agencies that have established themselves to do this certain thing. And it's not just within brick and mortar, you know, it's Instacart, it's Amazon, you know, they're also directing them with dot com business as opposed to brick and mortar business and how all of that comes together because they are all in those channels. I think one of the themes that I heard last week, even in a meeting with one of these companies,

That consultancy or brokerage really took it to heart that they work with a specific retailer, they work with Walmart, and if they help brands launch into that retailer and then that brand is not successful once the launch happens, they take that personally. Then it is seen negatively from the retailer onto that consulting agency. So those agencies and brokers...

They're really not just getting that brand in store or winning space. They're invested in, okay, what are we doing with that now? How successful are those skews? How are we going to introduce new skews? The longevity of that brand in the store. Well, I, yeah. Uh, thanks for sharing the story. And I think that's one of our objectives here is just kind of to highlight.

You know what, what we're seeing and what we're looking for. So, you know, I think that we're going to continue to look at how we can bring some of these specialists and consultants onto the show and really just learn from them firsthand. So I'm excited to be able to bring that to the future episodes. But, you know, again, I think we can look at our own business and say, Hey, consultants are impacting us in a positive way. There's a lot of direct benefits that we're able to obtain.

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Um, I think the consultants like it as well, right? They get fresh new projects. They're not working with the same thing all the time. Um, so I'm excited to be able to have them onto the show, continue to learn a little bit more about their expertise, uh, and see where they fit in. So more to come, uh, you know, down the road and certainly if there's any specific consultants that want to kind of come on and tell their story, uh, we'd welcome to have them as well. We'd always welcome them because I, I feel like at least for me.

I like partnering with them and just sitting down with them every now and then just to learn, you know, what are these brands up against just trying to get into that space? Because if I have that knowledge and brand comes to me later on down the line, I'm able to help them. I had a meeting last week with a brand that's already in Lowe's and they're already in Walmart and they only have one skew in the pet category in Walmart. And she was asking me how.

How do I win premium space? The buyers really aren't paying attention to our SKUs. There's nothing really new and inviting about it. And the information I gave her came from experience with a consultant was they want you to elevate the category, not just your SKU. So let's look at maybe you could partner with another brand within the category. Both of you can work together to help do category lift rather than just SKU lift. And that was something that I learned from a consultant. So anytime we can bring that to the table and bring that to our clients, it's just for the best.

So you heard it. We're out there looking for you, consultants. And again, I know that you guys can impact brands in a positive way to a multitude of different areas. And so, uh, we're open to having any and all of them on and come in and kind of tell their story and their bit and what they do. So, uh, you know, let us know for sure. Uh, we're going to transition in to our next, um, topic, which is always show and tell. So let's get into it. Let's discuss show and tell Christine, what are some of the things you're seeing, uh, that's out there.

Out in retail in the last couple of weeks, I am seeing kind of a growth and an explosion more of experiential. I actually was down in the Bentonville area a couple of weeks ago and Henkel was doing a pop -up shop, not only just a pop -up shop, it was for their

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Schwarzkopf brand keratin blonde. So it was an experiential event where they took over actual brick and mortar space within a Walmart store. I think there had been some kind of pet in there previously. They're doing it in five stores and they had an activation going on where people were actually coming in. It looked like a beauty salon and they had AI mirror sitting there and people would sit down in front of that AI mirror and they could see the different hair colors before they actually went back and had their hair colored.

But then they also had a parking lot experience going on with an Airstream and music and teams out there getting excited and handing out samples and things like that. So the parking lot experiences, the pop -up shops, those are things that I'm starting to see. And they only took over five stores in the Bentonville market, but the strategy was we have it for three months. Let's just kind of do some intermittent pop -up events. But at the end.

they're going to do a big event for shareholders in June. So that was kind of the whole strategy behind it. Awesome, awesome. And yes, I think that I have definitely personally experienced some of these. You know, I think that it's also here to stay. I think it's, it's brands got to think a little bit differently. And it really starts with how do I get budget to try some of this, which is an experiment for the most part.

when you're trying something that's not been done and especially, I mean, those are not, it wasn't free to produce those level of activations. And so I think kind of a few episodes ago, we talked about a brand's need to look at and plan for experiment budgets. I think that this is going to be one. And then you're seeing more uniqueness happen. I just saw, you know, the dude wipes.

Uh, they, they were everywhere leveraging media in places that you wouldn't traditionally look at, at least in my opinion. So, uh, I think they, I don't know if it was WrestleMania or what it was that they sponsored, but they're at the entire ring of the, uh, of the wrestling event was dude lives and they were trending. And so, uh, and then I think, uh, I saw their CEO post on LinkedIn where he just, just showed a direct impact to their web traffic.

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as a result of some of these activations that were taking place. But if there's one brand that I would say is definitely leaning into this, it's definitely those guys. You see Liquid Death and the Elf Cosmetics. That was quite the partnership. Partnership as well. And they had some activations and pop -up experience that was kind of leveraging some of that as well. So I'm excited. I love it when brands kind of...

challenge the status quo. And I think these activations give them that platform to really, you know, how do we bring this to the masses? Experience to the customer. But also test in a way that we can potentially learn something and then form future decisions. Well, yeah, the Hankel thing was perfect. You're only doing five. Let's test it. Let's pull some data from this and then maybe expand that, you know, later on down the road in Q3, Q4.

or certain components of it, right? You know, once you go to at scale, you may have taken all those different things that they learned and you may say, Hey, we're only going to take two of the three of the activate two of the 10 activations because this was why. And so now you kind of have that input to be able to, you know, inform decisions as well. So, um, good stuff for sure related to our show and tell.

We're gonna jump right into our next segment, which is heard on the streets Which some of this has to do a bit with some of the the show and tell so it's gonna piggyback on that a little bit I know that you mentioned just the the pop -up experience but continuing kind of hurting hearing on the streets What are some of the other trends that you're? Demoing is back Obviously went away during COVID. I think it kind of started to make a little bit of appearance

After that, but I think there's going to be a bigger push. Now demoing is definitely back and we, we talk about experiential and pop -up. I think the whole trend and theme is interacting with the consumer, getting your brand or sample or whatever in their hand and interacting with them and letting them have an experience. And I know you've seen this quite a bit too. And, and you know, some agencies out there that that's all they do. Yeah.

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One of them that I've been paying attention because they're doing a heck of a job is Lime Media. And I'm sure there's a multitude of other ones, but I know that I've just been kind of watching the different types of products that they work on and then how they've just kind of streamlined and created some efficiencies where there's a bit of a rent component. So think about it as, you know, if you go to any major...

I see him most notably in bar districts where they have a bike and someone's peddling people around just to create a convenience. Now they're activating those bikes and they're telling brand stories and they're offering certain products as they're transporting people around. It was a big thing down south by Southwest. It's a big thing at most bar districts that have this, that there's a decent amount of walking distance from one bar to another. And so that's an example where a company like Lime Media is now offering

brands ability to rent that bicycle with that branding real estate. So you can activate it. So you think events, trade shows, wherever the, where you're saying, Hey, I have a captive audience. The people that March madness, March madness crazy in all the cities that have those games. That would be great. Yes. How do we take this, you know, experience to them? How do we introduce our brand in a unique way? How do we do it? That's memorable. How do we most likely maybe get some.

free media because people are excited or think it's clever and funny. And so now they're capturing on social and they're sharing. Um, and then, you know, I think that the more and more of these events that pop up, we will see brands recognize that, Hey, our consumer base is there. How do we go play a role in being a part of the events? Um, versus just maybe a billboard ad per se, because I think in, in reason they're accomplishing the same, they're attempting to accomplish the same thing, but yeah.

the KC Currents game, you know, there was some of those opportunities there. I think definitely, you know, Kansas City, we had the big 12, is it still called the big 12? Big 12 tournament. I don't know if it's still, I know basketball was here. It was a basketball. And so they had a bunch of different activations down there. They blocked off the whole road, road. And so I know just in talking to brands and the hurdle that they saw.

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trying to do kind of experiential, you know, parking lot events or things like that was securing the assets to do that. And I think there are agencies out there kind of like Lyme that you talked about where they have fleets in a warehouse of the Sprinter vans or whatever it might be, the air streams that are ready to be wrapped and ready to go now. So it's not as hard to secure those assets and pull the trigger and arrange these events as it used to be.

Well, back to the experiment topic, right? What they have essentially done is lowered the threshold of entry into some of these experiments because sure, you certainly don't want to own an Airstream to realize that that was a terrible idea and now we're stuck owning this thing as well. And so, you know, I think that they're definitely, we're going to see more where you can kind of rent and test. And then if it's validated through that, then you may choose to go and, you know, purchase an asset like a

an Airstream, but because I know that, you know, there's ongoing, one of our clients, uh, actually deploys an Airstream, uh, pretty regularly, but realize that there's a decent amount of maintenance, uh, ongoing maintenance that's required. Not everyone knows how to operate and navigate the Airstream. And so that created some, some challenges, whereas there's companies like, I think you mentioned live media where they already offer that. They're also going to tee you up on how to be successful. What, what you.

to do and most likely even go and set that in the parking lot. Yes, and as a brand you get to rent that, you get to test it and then if it's validated you can continue to kind of pursue those as well. Okay, well we are going to move on to, we didn't go to school for this. It's where Trevor and I relay what we would tell our 25 year old selves now that we know what we know and I think...

I think for listeners, the way to paint that picture for us is when I was 25 years old and you were, which for you wasn't that long ago. It's old. You know, what does the day in our life look like now? Because I don't think that that's what we expected when we were 25 years old. What does that day look like for you, Trevor? It's, it's, it's a heck of a lot different, um, for sure. And I, you know, when I think about my day,

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now versus then one of the number one things that's changed is just when I get out of bed. It's probably much earlier now. Yeah. I mean, I, you know, to give just full transparency into what today actually looked like for me. Um, it's, it's always a bit chaotic in my day, but it always starts pretty consistently. Uh, so my alarm every day goes off at 4 30 AM. Uh, it's early, but I've,

became accustomed to it now. So it's not as bad as when you just start. Um, now when the time changes, that doesn't make it any easier. That is not fun. So they should definitely change that. Um, but 4 30 AM, uh, I'm up, my alarm goes off. Uh, I get to the gym. It's about a two minute drive by five 30. And so then I really start the first thing that I do, uh, is

get to the gym and start to work out. And I've really found that that's been a game changer for me because it's before I look at all the fires in my inbox that I've got to deal with through the day. It's really my time, but I can go out there and get some small wins that starts my days. And so I've learned over the years that that is huge. And if I don't get that done, I, it feels like my whole day is off. So that's where it starts up. And then,

Um, around eight 39, I have about a 35 to 45 minute commute into the office every day. So I typically get here around eight 30 or nine. Uh, once I'm here. And so for today, uh, nine o 'clock, we had a, we had a vendor meeting. Um, so that was approximately 30 minutes long. Um, then at 11 o 'clock we had our, we have our standing cells meeting.

Um, and that's about a 30 minute long on Thursdays. Um, and then we move into, uh, we have our, our leadership meetings, um, one day a week and it happens to be Thursday. So it typically for me starts around 12 30. Let me back up around 12 to 12 30. I try to take a couple of laps around the building. Uh, every day. Yes. You're, you're a lunch lapper. Yeah. So I try to get a couple of laps in just to kind of debrief level set, move my body a little bit. Um,

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And then at 1230, I'm back in the meetings, but specifically this Thursday was our leadership meeting. Um, 1232, uh, then around three. So it's pretty long. Uh, and then, you know, we're reporting recording podcasts on Thursdays as well. So on Thursdays, uh, typically around three 15, we go to the, into the studio, uh, record the podcast. Um, and then I will, uh, my.

Layla has a soccer game tonight at six 30. So at some every day, it's typically starts at four 30. Uh, it'll go to six 30 and then she has wrestling practice. After that we'll get home around nine, nine 30. And that's my day. Typically six, six days, five to six days a week. Um, it is, it's quite a bit, but I'll tell you, it all starts like my day. The success of it is really predicated on what does my morning look like? It dictates your day. It takes my day.

And so I'm very, I'm probably too much of a stickler about my morning routine, but as your 25 year old self, at what point did you kind of realize the importance of your morning and health and wellness? Cause I guarantee you, it was right about the same time of becoming a father and realizing that your sleeping habits are forever changed. Without choice, I say that that's probably about the mesh point of when this thing started to go like, Oh my gosh, I need some me time.

And there's a few times in a day that you can kind of get that and it's typically when they're sleeping And so I think I've leaned into that I've been in a morning person now if there's not practice that I'm attending I'm in bed by 830 if I can be I will be totally so last night I was off the hook. I did not have any commitments and so I was in bed asleep by 830 So it's not that I can just run

around the clock all the time, but I'd say early on, as soon as I stepped into being a father and that role is whenever my really started to think about my day and how could I maximize it. And thank goodness I figured that out early because I see people that go to the gym after work and that wouldn't work for me. I wish I could. It's not easy.

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do that, but I will have thought of an excuse by five 30 as to why I do not. It's very easy because I'm the opposite of you. I have to do it at night. Yeah. So, uh, find out what works for you. And then I think just, you know, you continue to iterate on what works, what doesn't work. And you know, I, but I am a huge component. First thing, if there's a chance for me to, to go and exercise, I better get it done the first thing in the morning. And I've adopted that for a while and continue to have it routine. It gets a little bit better.

Yeah. What about you? We all want to hear what it was. My, my, I almost probably should tell it's completely different. Like last week's Thursday is different, way different than this week's Thursday. And it's really kind of dependent on client needs and things like that. Um, today wasn't so crazy. I, I get up at five o 'clock in the morning because I have a 13 year old to get to school, but I think we leave by seven 10. I'm yelling at him that brush your teeth. Let's go.

So and I am the kind of person that I want to be up and dressed and finished before I tackle the 13 year old because if we're trying to do it together, it doesn't happen. So yes, yes. Get it all done, even if it means getting up earlier. And I still give myself about 15 or 20 minutes of drink my coffee and quiet time after I'm fully dressed and ready to go before I have to wake the beast and get him moving.

But once I get him dropped off to school, I'm in the office. I will say that last Thursday I did that. I was in the office by eight o 'clock. I had to pick up prototypes last Thursday. I'd already called the warehouse and said, I'm not happy with them at 6 a .m. Can you make changes? And they did. They love me. So I'm in here by eight o 'clock. I'm loading them up. I drove three and a half hours to Arkansas.

I had three meetings. I dropped off prototypes to two clients. I literally wheeled the luggage rack out to my car at the hotel from one of my clients, loaded it up and wielded in there and gave him all of his prototypes. We reviewed everything. I drove three and a half hours home and pulled into the parking lot of baseball practice to pick my son up. And that is not what I thought my 25 year old self would be doing. No, no, no, no. That's why you wear that.

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Superwoman Cape that I tell you to wear all the time because, yeah, well, what a day. And that was a day. That wasn't even a week. That all happened in one day. Yeah, that was one day. But I got a lot accomplished, you know, for me that I did get a lot accomplished that day. Yeah. And that's, you know, you've learned over time that that's what it takes. It is what it takes, at least in our business and servicing our clients. And when somebody has a meeting with Walmart.

you get in the car and you drive down there and take them what they need. You do. And you also, you know, when something's not right and you know that it has to be right. I just wasn't happy with it the night before. And I know the warehouse comes in at 6 a .m. and I was ringing their phones. Can you just add this little piece and I'll be happy. And they did. They did. Well, teamwork makes the dream work. Yes. Definitely a testament to, you know, all of the things that you.

do and accomplish in a given day and my goodness, that is a heck of a day. So kudos to you for sure on that. All right. So to conclude for our last segment, we want to give you a little glimpse into our minds. We all have those moments where we reflect, learn, remind ourselves of certain truths. For me, it's my memo to myself and for Christine, it's her, I am for the day. It's a chance for us to give you a bit of a vulnerability for us.

share our thoughts and maybe some of it will resonate with you. So for today, I'm going to put you on the hot seat to start again. Tell me a little bit about what is your IAM. Okay, my IAM, for those that don't know where it comes from, I have a group of accountability ladies, my tribe, that every morning we text each other, what are you today? Kind of like you said, how you start your day.

sets the precedence for your day. So we're asking each other, what are you? What are you stepping out in the world and embracing with today that you're going to live by and it's going to guide you? And I will say that mine speaks to the day that I just described, but I am thankful. It's a crazy schedule and it's a crazy day, but looking out at the world and what other people are dealing with, I'm thankful to have a job that might require me to drive.

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three hours one way and three hours back, but I'm thankful that I have clients. I'm thankful that they give me opportunities. I'm thankful that my, my son is healthy and I'm thankful that he can play baseball and I can support that. So kind of giving a different perspective rather than, Oh my gosh, I'm exhausted, which I am, but I'm very thankful for the things that exhaust me. Awesome. That's terrific. And, uh, yeah, I don't know if, uh, uh,

Jackie, our producer can drop in the baseball clip of your son taking that stroke. Oh yeah. We had, we had two out of the park home runs. I drove to Branson this weekend. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And she drove to Branson for a baseball terminal weekend. And yeah, maybe we can get our producers to drop in this video because the young man's swing was legit.

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My memo to myself right now, you know, uh, is really that I believe growth comes through and we've kind of talked to the looted this a bit, but growth from ghosts comes from, um, failure, but then it's the corrective action that you take to fix it. And so right, right there, I think that's where growth actually happens. Um, and I've been telling myself a lot that because, you know, whether it's my personal life, work life, uh, anytime that you're trying to push boundaries, you're inevitably going to run into some friction, some things that break.

And so it's really, in my opinion, that I've been at least telling myself is it's what you do in the action you take to fix that is that's the sweet spot of where growth happens. People often have a tendency of thinking you can grow without running into failures. I don't believe you can. I just had this conversation with several people because they asked, how did your son do in Branson?

And they played all weekend and they won every game until the championship and they lost by one run. And all I kept telling those boys was it's baseball boys. You have to fail. What you guys do with this and what you learn from it is going to make how you are as a player is going to make you successful. But what are you doing with that failure? That was my memo for sure. And again,

Uh, just always enjoy that this part of the show where we kind of talk about that. I'm sure all of you guys are telling you're either telling yourself something positive or negative is what I've kind of learned. So, uh, you might as well figure out how to give yourself some, some positivity self -talk. And I think that that's huge. All right. Finally, join us from next week where we'll dig into the life of a brand manager. Don't miss our conversation where we talk all things, uh, brand managers. And thanks for listening.

keep your questions and comments coming. We love tuning in to what you want to know about helping your brand stand out in store. 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 Berra make all of this possible. So a big thanks to them and the entire team at In -Store Design Display. Stay tuned for our next episode on YouTube or wherever you consume podcasts.

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