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Ep. 2: Retail Reality Check: Differentiate Your Product with Packaging

Episode 2: Retail Reality Check: Differentiate Your Product with Packaging


In this episode, the hosts Christine Wright and Trevor Lewis discuss lessons learned from watching the Kansas City Chiefs’ season and Super Bowl win, the importance of packaging for CPG brands wanting their product to stand out on shelf, and emerging trends in the retail industry. They also give shout outs to local brands and share their personal reflections. The episode concludes with Trevor’s “Memo to Myself” and Christine’s “I am” for the day plus a preview of the next episode.


  • Packaging plays a crucial role in the success of a brand on the shelf.
  • Technology platforms like Shelfgram can provide valuable insights into brand performance and competition.
  • Local brands like Cherry Co. and Meat Mitch are making waves in Kansas City.
  • Emerging brands need to consider how their packaging will transition from online to brick-and-mortar stores.


00:00 Introduction

01:13 Lessons from the Kansas City Chiefs

08:49 Shout Outs: Cherry Co., Meat Mitch

11:25 Trends: Packaging for Emerging Brands

16:04 Lightning Round

23:12 Conclusion: Trevor’s “Memo to Myself” and Christine’s “I am” for the day.



⁠Nickle and Suede⁠

Kilee Nickels on ⁠Instagram⁠ and ⁠LinkedIn⁠

Cherry Co.

Thalia Cherry on LinkedIn

Meat Mitch


Exit 5 Podcast

Refined Labs Podcast

New Heights Show

Episode 2: Transcript

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (00:00.)

Attention shoppers, back to back blue light specials on aisle 57 and 58.

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 the talk of the shelf. Let's get into this week's episode.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (00:30.542)

Welcome everyone on today's episode, where we explore how packaging can make or break your brand on shelf. And to kick off this episode. I want to call the first part, “Lessons from the Season.” Since we're fortunate enough to hail from Kansas City and we are the Super Bowl champions, two years in a row. Back to back, baby. Back to back. Kind of like to talk about, I mean, you and I are football fans, so we watch it throughout the season. Kind of what did, what did you learn from watching the Chiefs this year? Uh, how to navigate adversity, right? How to, you know, just stay in your lane, stay focused, not listen to the outsiders. There's always going to be critics.

Always the naysayers. Always the naysayers. I think just the ebbs and flows of the season and there's peaks and valleys. There's peaks and valleys in life. There's peaks and valleys in business. That Christmas day game was a... That was ugly. That was ugly. Even I was saying a few choice words coaching from the couch. Yeah, I think it was just fascinating to be able to watch them persevere through some of the different levels of adversity and then you know, you can't help but kind of relate to that as well. So that was a few of them Yeah, I just it's I know I know we get choice clips sometimes that we're seeing on social media news. But I do like to see not just Mahomes but just the rest of the team kind of pumping each other up and and not putting themselves down when they did have a bad game when they're hitting those valleys and they went peaks and

Peaks and lows and peaks and lows all season long. So that was nice to see. Definite leadership for more than just Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes. I think leadership throughout the entire team. We saw that through the year. I know just the classic Mahomes, and I don't even think it was this year. I think it was last year. But I think it's when we played the Raiders. And you can see him. I'm here all day long. I'm here all day long. Love it. And they are, good or bad. They're here all day long. Absolutely. Yeah.

Yeah, fascinating is cool to be, you know, here in Kansas City and, you know, you kind of give it a little bit more, um, you know, firsthand exposure to some of it as well. Uh, even seeing some of these folks and these guys out in the community or different, uh, members of the team out in the community. And so that's been, you know, super exciting. Watch Pat operate is just incredible, but how he conducts his emotions. Um, and I think you've heard of a lot of the sport,

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (03:04.622)

You know, the, the sporting guys that are the talking heads of the media, you know, make a lot of different comments or throw a bunch of his players underneath the bus. He never waivers. He never, he's like, I'm going to keep, I'm going to keep coming back to them. I'm going to keep coming back to them. And I think that that's just in life and in business. There's a lot of examples of that where there's critics, right? There's naysayers and there's times where you want to maybe throw somebody or blame someone else, but he was just as consistent.

And that was a lot to admire just how he would navigate that. I mean, yeah, watching, you know, MVS drop balls. I mean, there's plenty of opportunities where he could come out and potentially say something, but all he would say is I'm going to keep coming back to him. And I was like, wow, that's impressive. So super cool.

All right. Our first segment we're going to jump right into is “Show and Tell.” Christine, tell us what you've been experiencing in retail that kind of stands out. I will say recently we kind of learned of a platform or software called Shelfgram and it really really opened our eyes and allowed us to then help our clients kind of see their brand in real life on shelf in various retailers and not just see the brand on shelf but you're seeing the entire category you are able to see through this platform and it's kind of crowd sourced visuals.

What’s your competition is doing? Are there out of stocks on shelf? Is the pricing correct? Did they really set the signage that was supposed to be set? Is the display set correctly? All of those questions you're asking from various cities nationwide in various retailers, you can go on to Shelfgram, pull up your brand, pull up that retailer and give it certain prompts and you're able to see that and know that information. So then you can go back to your merchant and buyer meetings and know if you had good sell through or not. Well, maybe there was out of stocks or maybe the price didn't get changed. Things that you really, really need to know across the entire category of your brands. It's just phenomenal to see that that information is there. Efficiencies are there. I mean, I think it's really cool because the old way of achieving this was to physically go into the stores, right? That's labor intensive. Obsolete.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (05:24.974)

That's subjective in terms of what you're relying on another person to potentially see and then report back. And as a brand manager or someone at ShopperMart, you have multiple different channels that you've got to cover and kind of do some of this due diligence for. And so being able to have a piece of technology that can serve this information up in real time, but you can also be setting at your computer and you can do some of this auding, or you can look for inspiration, right? You can look at, hey, what were all of the campaigns?

That were tied specifically to the Super Bowl. And you can map all the different brands. So if you wanted to have a campaign or a program that was leveraging something like the Super Bowl, you could at least get a glimpse of what has been done in the past that's leveraged that same theme. And so I think as all brands are looking for this slight edge of how do we show up and pattern interrupt the shopper by leveraging a trigger event like the Super Bowl that we know is going to change shopper behavior.

It's fascinating that you can go and see what other brands were doing, whether they're in your category or not. And that should inform you, right? That should inform you how to be slightly different. And so I think there's a multitude of different ways you can leverage this technology. It's fascinating that, you know, they also have the ability to integrate AI as part of it as well. And so you're able to get a lot up to your point, you know, how is my cost being represented across?

All of these different channels, not just this one, and be able to comprise that information in a way that you can analyze it and you can make decisions with. So definitely Shelfgram. What else is some of the things you're looking at? Well, Shelfgram, I would say Shelfgram and AI were the top ones just because you not only see your brand, but then you're also seeing competition. So especially brands can use it, obviously, to garner all the data that they need to go back in for merchant meetings.

But for us at IDD, I think it helps us to guide the programs that we are developing for our brand clients. You know, and it gives us some data to back up why we're pitching certain things and guiding them a certain way. Yes, totally agree. And, you know, I think that AI in general, we're going to continue to see where it impacts, you know, shopper marketing and different arenas, whether, and it's here now, right?

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (07:51.694)

And it's exciting, but I think we're hopeful it'll continue to create some efficiencies, better analytics, better reporting, and just looking at all of this different data that someone has to kind of analyze and create like cliff note versions of it. If someone was reporting into me, I'm like, I don't need to look at all this. Give me the cliff notes of what we're looking at here. And I think with the Shelfgram and then overlaying AI to do some of the analyzing of the information. Some really cool tools that I think are coming out that will impact shopper markets in a positive way. Definitely, definitely.

Well, let's go into this week's “Shout Outs.” We always love to acknowledge brands. You and I are kind of out and about or just have brands on our radar and there are a few. We shouted out last time and I kind of want to keep on the same streak. We did a lot of local brands last time in our last episode and this time I'm going to go ahead and shout out another local brand. It's Cherry & Company.

Yep. Which is a fashion and apparel local company started by Thalia Cherry. Really getting into all of the kind of local, not just collegiate teams, but we have Kansas City Chiefs, we've got Royals, we've got Sporting KC, we've got KC Current. So there's a plethora of sporting teams that she can play off of with some really, really cool apparel.

Yes, I've seen it. I think I've seen Mayor Lucas rocking one of the jackets. Yes, he had the jacket on. Yes. Which was cool and, you know, on brand in terms of representing Kansas City. So I think she's done a great job of leaning into that. Obviously, I know that her husband has some direct connections to the chiefs and the NFL as well. So I think you're definitely, you know, seeing some themes here.

One of the brands I've been paying attention, and I don't know, I've been traveling a decent amount recently. So I've been hanging out in the new Kansas City airport, which is pretty cool. Um, but a brand that I've paid attention to for a while because I love barbecue. And if you're from Kansas City, you don't love barbecue. You kind of have to, right. But Meat Mitch. So, um, I don't necessarily know exactly where the, uh, the company originated from, but I know that they did a lot of their start within, you know, sauces, uh, as well as seasoning.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (10:04.59)

Now they have a few physical restaurants and then they was, they opened a brand new one as part of the new airport to have a Meat Mitch location there. Really cool to see how they're kind of not only managing their own brick and mortar, selling, you know, their, some of their SKUs into retail as well and offering those products. But another homegrown Kansas City brand that's doing a lot of really cool things, leveraging KC barbecue.

And next time you're in the Kansas airport, you may sneak through there and see if you don't find some marketing sauce. And I bet Cherry Co Apparel is also in the airport. I haven't been there in a while. I've been to the new one a few times, but I bet that's in there. And just to plug her a little bit more, last week I talked about Nickel and Suede with Kylie Nichols. She and Thalia have teamed up. OK. So she's got the sports jewelry and Thalia's got the sports apparel and they're teaming up for a true KC sporting experience. So game day head to toe they got it all. They've got it all absolutely.

Awesome all right well it's time for “Heard on the Street,” working side by side with retailers and brands on the daily we are in the know when it comes to trends. Christine, what's some trends you're seeing? Well, the latest trend just based on the latest conversations I've had over the past couple months.

I really see an uptick in emerging brands and emerging brands that where their life cycle is they're getting ready to move from D to C, so online direct to consumer to brick-and-mortar. And what does that look like for them? And I think the biggest trend I'm seeing as far as how I can help them is they're realizing that the packaging they started out with for their brands and their products doesn't really work or transition from direct to consumer to brick and mortar. Because before, just be just like an Amazon, you're pulling it off a shelf, putting it in a box and shipping it. It didn't really matter. But now you're talking brick and mortar and sometimes those things have to hang from a display or sit in a PDQ tray or sit on shelf and the packaging isn't conducive to that if you're just throwing it into a box.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (12:19.918)

So I don't think a lot of emerging brands think about, oh my gosh, I'm going to have to completely sometimes redesign my packaging or at least reconfigure it as I'm moving into brick and mortar and launching on shelf and in store. Awesome. Is there any specific categories where you've had a direct impact on this? I think the biggest one I've seen personally is jewelry. They're moving from something that's just a little maybe a pouch or something that they're mailing out or shipping out to something that has to hang on a peg because it's a peg display with all of their product on it or something that has to have a flat bottom on it because it's sitting on a shelf rather than being put into a box. So yeah, jewelry was really effective. So back to what we say is you don't go to school for this. No, you kind of. So they're not teaching this in senior level marketing or anything? We rely on experts or OJT on the job training. Yes, every time. Awesome. Well,

Another trend, I wouldn't say it's necessarily a trend, but something that's definitely impacting that's the packaging, specifically in the cannabis sector. But I know that the way that the cannabis industry regulates it tends to be state to state. Recently here in Missouri, they've made some changes to the way your packaging can be presented. One of them being the word marijuana has to be the biggest word on the packaging. Interesting. Which is definitely interesting.

The other thing is they've simplified the level of your choices of color. So I believe it's down to just one color. Oh my gosh. That limits you. So there's a lot of limitations when you think, you know, most of these brands are in an emerging brand phase, right? They're the same life cycle for brands. They're just starting. They're just launching in this case, you know, Missouri. And so a lot of them are trying to differentiate their brands through their packaging. And so this has created some some challenges, now you got brands that have a bunch of inventory and packaging that can't be used. So you've got some cost challenges there. You've got the ongoing challenges. How do I differentiate this brand inside of this dispensary, right? There's a whole bunch of things that are happening. It's new. These are all new shopper environments, so there's not a ton of data on the shopper in terms of how they're going to select. We know that Budtenders do a lot of influencing along the way.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (14:39.63)

And that's great, but it can also be biased, right? And so that's going to create a challenge. The unique part is that same level of regulations does not apply to their displays. So we've seen a yeah, for us, it's a way to differentiate. Absolutely. It gives them a way to kind of tell that brand story. So if it's a playful brand, you can articulate that through the display, which is nice, but you cannot necessarily tell that same brand story on the packaging. So.

It's going to create some uniqueness. It's going to create some challenges, no question about it. And as these brands continue to scale, I think what's pretty consistent is there's change that continues to happen. So those are just a few of the packaging things that we're seeing on the cannabis side, totally different sector than jewelry per se or direct consumer packaging, right? And a lot of brands, a lot of consumers are, you know,

Identify a brand and associate it because of its packaging. That's often the first experience So a lot of important things are happening, but it sounds like changes just beginning. Yes, definitely Well, it is time for the lightning round and I sat on the hot seat in episode one So now it's Trevor's turn for me to ask you a few lightning round questions. Are you ready? Fire away What's one new brand you recently purchased and why?

So I, um, I think last time I mentioned, I'm, I'm kind of in this going after this marathon thing. So I've been consuming a lot of, you know, tips and tricks on tick tock or, uh, following, you know, uh, folks that run a lot of marathons on Instagram and Kevin Hart continues to get served up in my feed. And it's all these like two shorts for the price of one. Um, and so I took the splash, right. And it's an interesting model because you actually have to go and become a member.

I was a little bit sold on just this two shorts for, I don't know, 24, 25 bucks or something. I thought it was a great deal, but you got to kind of do this membership. So they got me. I did get the shorts. I'll probably buy some pants. And who is it? Because I think I know who it is because I almost tried the same thing for my workout. Fabletics. Fabletics, yes, for my workout year. Yep. Yep. So kudos to Kevin Hart. You got me. And you're also going to remember as well. Kevin Hart. He's a good salesman. He is.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (17:02.254)

Okay, what's one thing you've bought on TikTok or Instagram? Well, I guess I could kind of double on that one with the purchase there. So I'll probably just stick to that. I'd say most of the other purchases are on the behalf of my daughter, less on me. Teen purchases on social media. What piece of technology can you not live without? It's a split between and my Outlook calendar. My outlook calendar pretty much manages my life. And so if it's not on there, then the likelihood of me being to that event on time goes down tremendously. So if I had to pick one of the two, I'd probably say my Outlook calendar for sure. It is - That's a word and personal. Yes, totally. Yes. Okay. What's the worst career advice you've ever been given?

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (18:06.094)

I'd probably, this one's a little bit unique. So I would say it has to do with when you're getting onboarded, you have a chance to kind of figure out how you want to allocate to contribute to like 401ks or other benefits that the company may be offering. And so early on, I was told to not contribute to those. And just to contribute to them outside of the company offering and I think that that's always a unique thing that most people just simply don't understand and so you can listen to one one person articulate what you should do and it's not necessarily right so I think that's probably one of the negative piece of advice that I've been told is to do something specifically without kind of looking at from a holistic overview.

Where do you go to consume information to do your job better? Podcasts for sure. I'm a podcast. You know, I actually really don't listen to a significant amount of different podcasts. I have like two or three because I'm kind of of this mindset. Like if you take insight and advice from too many people, you ultimately are just an idea generator and you just listen to the next thing and going after that. So I really listen to only.

I listen to Exit 5, so DG (Dave Gerhardt) and Exit 5 I think is a phenomenal resource for next-gen marketers or anyone looking to just level up their marketing skillset predominantly in a B2B environment. So I consume a lot of that content. The other one is Refined Labs has one. They have a few different types of shows now. I've followed Chris Walker for a number of years.

We've implemented a decent amount of some of his go-to-market frameworks that I've originally consumed there. I share a lot of his content with our CEO and CFO just because it's pretty relevant and kind of building out that go-to-market strategy. So those are just a couple that I listen to, but it ultimately is podcasts. You and I both listen to New Heights. Come on now. Yep. New Heights. That's my entertainment podcast. That's like I'm on the treadmill or whatever. Share entertainment. Yeah. It's the entertainment for sure.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (20:23.79)

Okay, what advice would you give your 25-year-old self? I think that, you know, this is a marathon, right? This is a long game. And so ultimately, I believe the most important thing that you need to be focused on is your health. And so I think that just, I can't stress how important that is that this is a very long game that we're all, you know, hopefully able to play for a long time.

But so much of what I believe success is is really how healthy you are as in both through mental physical spiritual there's a lot of different health buckets but The earlier you can prioritize that I think the better you'll be better you are for everyone totally trying to influence and help throughout your career absolutely

All right for our last segments we want to give you a little glimpse into our minds. We all have those moments where we reflect learn and remind ourselves of certain truths. For me it's “Memo to Myself” and Christine it's her “I am.” For today it's a chance for us to to be a bit vulnerable. This is probably one of my favorite segments of the show. So I'm gonna let you jump kick it off. You're gonna let me kick it off huh? Well that's fine. My I am's for today and

My I am is the state and the positive statement that I start my day with. I have a group of ladies and we're kind of accountability partners and we text each other each morning and say, what are you today? And so today, my biggest one is I am me. And we all know if you're not, if you're just listening and not watching, I have my really famous Christine boots on today, cowboy boots, pink and light blue. I mean, it's just, it's I am me and - Those are you.

That is that. Yes. That's kind of my statement. Yeah. And, and I am enough, just, just me and owning the fact that, that I'm enough and I'm, and I'm really proud of that and going out on the day and embracing that. Um, also, uh, I am knowledgeable because just really doing these podcasts, I'm just kind of spilling all of the information that I've picked up over 25 years. And I really do have a lot in there. And so, yes, I am knowledgeable about certain things, um, in my expertise. And then I'm just, I'm blessed.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (22:43.214)

Just every day I just kind of have to remember that there's always something that you're blessed with. There might be some hard times but there are some blessings every single day. Love it, love it, love it and those boots are absolutely you. They are definitely me. No question about it but they look great and they look sparky and fierce and all those things so awesome. So my memo to myself today was this one was pretty simple. This one keeps showing up. You know it's amazing. The importance of just showing up. I do go to the gym a decent amount of time and 99 % of the time I do not want to go do that. Actually going is the hardest part. It's the hardest. Getting there and doing is fine. But I am just like, I'll just show up. And after I do that every single time, I'm like, thank goodness I did that. But every time, I don't think people always realize like, oh, you love going. Like, no, I don't. It's hard most of the time. I do not.

But showing up was definitely the memo to myself. I can picture you. I'm here all day. Yes. Once you get in there. Once you get in there. Yes. That's all for this week's episode. We're grateful to have you along the ride through retail and real life. Thanks for listening. Join us next week. We'll be exploring the staying power of brick-and-mortar stores. They are definitely not dead. And you certainly won't want to miss this.

BlueLightSpecialPodcast (24:11.662)

This podcast is a production of InStore Design Display, the go -to expert for guiding and elevating your in-store experience. Our wordsmith, Julie Edge, and mix master, Jackie Barra, 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.

#productpackaging #shelfgram #packagingdesign #retailtrends #brickandmortar #cannabis #cannabismarketing


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