WRITTEN BY SERENA HUGHES, EDITED BY MacEWEN PATTERSON
If you’ve somehow managed to miss it: products infused with CBD aka cannabidiol have been massively on the rise in the past few years. If there’s a product that you can eat or apply, chances are there is someone out there who’s managed to add cannabidiol. This single ingredient is not just reserved for specialty health food shops – even major chains like CVS have begun to carry numerous CBD-containing products. The market is growing so rapidly, in fact, that it is estimated to reach $20B by 2024.
If you’re not familiar with this term, cannabidiol is a chemical found in cannabis, alongside about one hundred others like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While the marijuana plant has more THC, the hemp plant contains majority CBD and minimal THC. In fact, to be classified as hemp, a cannabis plant can contain no more than 0.3% THC. To stay in line with current laws, manufacturers can only currently use hemp-derived CBD due to the lower THC content.
CBD has garnered a following from it’s reported ability to treat pain, anxiety, and a variety of other ailments without the high of THC. Last year’s amendment to the Farm Bill removed hemp from the schedule I controlled substances list, where it sat alongside psychoactive substances like heroin and LSD. Now regulation surrounding CBD is in the hands of the Food and Drug Administration, who had their first regulatory hearing on May 31st, 2019. The plan for these hearings arose after people voiced concerns. The apprehension surrounding CBD ranges from the side effects of regular exposure to unsubstantiated health claims attached to some products. With the increasing scrutiny on CBD, it is crucial to keep several things in mind when determining how you’re going to market your CBD product.
1. Understand where to advertise…
Currently, the two major advertising giants, Google and Facebook, do not allow for the promotion of CBD products through their platforms. Don’t get defeated, though, as there are many alternatives to embrace. You may find that utilizing influencers in related industries such as the health/wellness communities is an excellent way to get your product exposure. These don’t need to be influencers with huge followings either – influencers with smaller audiences have shown to have up to 85% more engagement than users with large followings.
Native advertising – i.e., ads that conform with the style of content of the publication in which they appear – is another great way to integrate your CBD products into the marketplace seamlessly. A surprising option is to leverage Amazon, which does currently for the sale of CBD infused products on its platform. If you’ve got a bit of extra cash, you can even pay to show up at the top of specific searches.
2. Check your language…
Over the past few years, the FDA has issued warning letters to several companies who manufactured products containing CBD. Due to the increasing scrutinization of CBD by regulatory authorities, it is vital to make sure that all of your branding and copy falls in line with the law. As it stands now, the FDA views CBD as a drug rather than a supplement and is not currently approved as a food additive for humans or animals. Though there is a lack of clarity in what is and isn’t okay, what is clear is that the FDA does not take kindly to companies who make health claims about products containing cannabidiol. To find out more about FDA regulations regarding CBD, you can visit https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/fda-regulation-cannabis-and-cannabis-derived-products-questions-and-answers#othercbdapproved . It is also advisable to speak with a lawyer who has experience in navigating the niche landscape that is bringing CBD products to market.
3. Know your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)…
With so many CBD products in the market, it’s critical to differentiate yourself from the others. Is your product meant for the bougie connoisseur, or are you targeting the everyman? Whether it’s the dosage, the mode of delivery, where the hemp is sourced from, etc. know what makes your product unique in the market so you can properly promote that. Everything from your packaging to your copy should be a reflection of who your brand is at its core. Again, though, in line point #2, make sure that what you’re saying about your product is in line with FDA regulations. Making health claims isn’t worth it if it means your company gets shut down.
Our agency serves several brands in the CBD space and we effectively market them on popular platforms by adhering to the compliance guidelines set forth, and by focusing on outcomes. We work with our mutual teams to arrive at copy and creative that demonstrate how the product improves the customer’s life, which is what the shopper is ultimately curious about anyway. Removing trigger words, using landing-pages, and incorporating everyday images are all strong approaches to illustrating outcomes and working compliantly to market your products on large platforms.
The CBD space is continually evolving, meaning your marketing plan should be too. Find the right mediums by which to advertise and share your product, pay attention to the laws, and know what makes your product stand out. One way to do this is to find an agency that has experience in the consumer packaged goods business and can help guide you in the right direction for your CBD product. What’s your favorite CBD product right now? Who’s marketing stands out to you?
Let us know in the comments.