Joe: On this episode of the CPG & CBD University Podcast, expand the brands, staying on top of the latest trends, and being a category leader doesn't happen by accident. How we use leading industry data when expanding our in-house and private label offerings behind the numbers and trends on this episode of the CPG & CBD University Podcast. And it starts right now.

I'm Joe Agostinelli, host of the CPG & CBD University Podcast. If you are a returning listener, welcome back to our podcast. And if you are a new listener, we are glad you found us on your podcast platform of choice. Don't forget, you can get full video episodes of our podcast on the Global Widget YouTube channel. And I invite you to subscribe to our podcast, audio, and/or video versions by hitting that subscribe button to receive notifications when new episodes are published.

Talked about it on our last podcast episode, as we made the evolution into our new name, it doesn't happen overnight, just like new products, new brands, new offerings to consumers, wholesale, retail, and private label partners doesn't happen overnight. There's science and data behind it and ongoing research into the latest industry trends. And, answering the increasing demand for CBD health and wellness products, we're expanding the brands and products we offer and discuss here on the CPG & CBD University Podcast. I welcome back to our podcast, Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of our Amazon Business Unit, John King, and the Vice President of Sales Operation, Scot Wooster. Welcome back to both of you.

John: Thank you.

Scot: Thanks for having us, Joe.

John: Yeah, thank you.

Joe: First time under the new name, in our second episode as the CPG & CBD University Podcast. If you haven't checked out the new sign yet, you can check on the YouTube channel.

Scot: Did we change the colors, Joe? It looks good.

John: It does.

Joe: We did. Well, we're red background still.

Scot: Still?

Joe: Yeah. Still.

Scot: Okay. Looks different.

Joe: As maybe this will be the episode that pushes over 100,000 downloads, maybe we'll change the color for...

Scot: Nice.

Joe: ...the next episode.

Scot: All right. Let's make it happen.

Joe: It's our claim to fame. Scot, we'll start off with you. Back on Episode 64, 15 episodes ago now, we discussed the organization we used on industry-leading data and research into brand success and product offerings across multiple channels. How do we continue to use data to expand our offerings to our retail and wholesale partners and our private label customers to set them up for success?

Scot: Mm-hmm. Yeah, SPINS is our partner for data, and we use them all the time. A recent example... I think last time when we spoke, we talked about some of our brands and how we used the data for our brand development. But we just had a major grocery retailer, as an example, in our office a couple weeks ago, and they were here to audit our facility. Basically, audit our team to see if they wanted to do business with us. And as part of that discussion, they spent about a half a day with us. And they wanted us to evaluate their current lineup of gummies in the, you know, multivitamin and vitamin segment of their store for their private label brand. And so this was a contract manufacturing opportunity, so we reached out to SPINS.

I mean, we have a lot of data, but we had to go deep on some data for just U.S. grocery, so we could do a compare on what their current lineup looked like? Do they have the trending ingredients, you know, that people are looking for? Are their price points in line, that kinda thing? And so we did that, and they also asked us for, you know, suggestions on possible line extensions. So, again, without SPINS or a data partner like SPINS, that would have been very difficult to do without their help.

Joe: John, being able to offer premium CBD health and wellness products, not only in retail locations nationwide, as Scot mentioned, but on e-commerce sites, both our own and e-commerce stores from our brands and additionally e-commerce stores that we'll talk about here, obviously, comes with a lot of research into the industry, the trends, functional ingredients, as Scot had mentioned, and an investment in innovation, surrounding right formulations and marketplace factors. How have you been able to pull that in?

John: Yeah. Joe, one of our strengths has always been speed to market, but now it's getting even better. We've been investing in formulation in our automation and efficiency. And that's leading to innovative, high-quality products that we can get to our customers faster.

You've already seen this with Defense Boost, and, I think, last week you talked about Forever Well. I'm excited to introduce a new brand, Garden Grown Essentials, and it's gonna be an Amazon-only brand. And what that's gonna allow us to do is get products to consumers and find those trends more quickly. And then take what we learn from those consumer trends back to our private label customers and our own wholesale brands. So, we're very excited about how that innovation is going to help us be more responsive to our current customers.

Joe: And you can learn more about Defense Boost in Episode 72 of our podcast. And, as we mentioned, last week's episode, Episode 78, we discuss some of our upcoming brands, which we'll tell you more about in future episodes. Way to tee all that up. See, we don't get to 100,000 downloads by accident, either.

Scot: Right.

John: It all blends together.

Joe: Scot, so many emerging categories in the industry, hard to stay on top of it all. How hard is it to stay on top of the category trends in a constantly evolving industry?

Scot: Yeah. I don't wanna say it's easy, but if you are...if you do have a data partner and you are paying attention to the data, spotting the trends isn't that difficult. I mean, we had a couple of functional ingredients super spike last year, as an example. The real challenge is to figure out which ones to act on. So, the way we look at it, as a company, is we think about, you know, e-commerce or Amazon, or our contract manufacturing partners, or our wholesale brands. Like, I'll give an example of a recent one, Ashwagandha. That spiked up a little bit.

Well, the way it normally works is you're gonna see things first, you know, come on the scene on e-commerce or Amazon. And then if it has legs, it's gonna go to the natural channel, and then if it has legs there, it's gonna go to the traditional channel. So, like that grocery partner that we met with, even though Ashwagandha was spiking, probably not ready for traditional grocery yet. So we'll let John and his team, with Amazon and e-commerce, evaluate and see how far we can go with Ashwagandha. Are you gonna launch a product like that?

John: Absolutely, we are.

Scot: Okay. There you go. And then as we see it go into natural, if we have, you know, customers for contract manufacturing in natural, you know, we'll alert them of that or if we wanna put brands in natural, you know, we'll know to go there. Or, we'll see if it's a better channel for a traditional. Or, if it gets all the way down to traditional, you'll start to see that be a bigger percentage of revenue for, you know, functional ingredient, as an example.

Joe: And talk about trending to functional agreements...ingredients, excuse me, it was Episode 75, I believe it was, when I first heard the word Ashwagandha as an ingredient.

Scot: Right.

Joe: And, now, I think I've heard that more in the last three episodes just over the course of the last few weeks. So, that just shows how quick things change and how we can adapt to the change in the industry. And, John, in 2020, we had our year of more with our in-house CBD brands, and now in 2021, introducing new products across our in-house brands, but we're also increasing capacity operations and manufacturing capabilities to meet the increasing demands. You get to lead tours, you know, here at Global Widget all the time.

John: Yep.

Joe: What have you seen on the innovation and technology side that allowed us to get to this point where we are today?

John: Yeah. So, yeah, leading the tours is very rewarding, right?

Joe: Mm-hmm.

John: So, when we bring customers here, they can see the difference immediately. They have been to some of our competitors, and some are mostly just sales and marketing companies. And when they're here, they see the difference.

We're not only just in sales and marketing. We have a full-service design team and they're... Every logo, every package you've ever seen from Global Widget, was created right here, in-house. And then, even more than that, you take them through the double doors that leads to our manufacturing area, and you open those doors, and it's so...it's so big and bright, and clean. It's just beautiful. And customers go through, and their faces light up.

And I love taking them down. One of my favorite parts of the tour that leads to the answer to the question here is I love taking them by our old formulation area and testing area. And they see, you know, it's still there, and there's still work going on. It's not very big. You take them around the corner and see the new QA lab and the new formulation lab, literally eight times the size of the old lab. And that's an indication of how much we've grown.

Not only that, we have returning prospects and customers that come for a second time. It's been a little while since they've been here, and they see all the additional equipment that we have out on the factory floor and equipment that we might have shown them last year. And now you can see we've added on to get more automation working on efficiency, lowering their prices, etc.

In addition, it's no longer a one-building tour. We're up to four buildings in our campus and literally three times the size of just a few years ago, 175,000 square feet. So, the tour has grown, and grown, and grown. And everyone who comes here and goes on that tour goes home excited about what we're capable of doing.

Joe: We'll talk more about our capacity in gummy manufacturing and production on an upcoming episode of the podcast. And we featured members of our formulation team on a recent podcast, Episode 75. And read more about our new formulation lab on the Global Widget website and our social media channels, or the press release that we sent out, and some behind the scenes video on YouTube, in case if you haven't made it down here yet to the facility. Well, Scot, John, lots of great information. Thanks for joining me on this episode.

John: Oh, you bet.

Scot: Thanks for having us, Joe. It was a pleasure.

John: Yeah. It was great.

Joe: And not only can you watch video episodes of our podcast on YouTube channels, as I mentioned, go behind the scenes, look at everything we have going on here by visiting the Global Widget YouTube channel and the YouTube channels of our brands. Hit that subscribe button wherever you get your podcast to stay on top of all the latest news and trends, new brands, new products with our CPG & CBD University Podcast. You'll get notifications each week when new episodes are published. And, sometimes, even maybe more than once a week on some special episodes coming up.

I'm Joe Agostinelli, host of the CPG & CBD University Podcast. Thanks for tuning in.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. CBD products are not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. Always consult with your personal physician about CBD and using CBD products. CBD should never be used by anyone under the age of 18. This podcast is not intended to provide legal advice regarding the legal status of CBD and CBD products.