Cannabidiol products have been on the shelves of specialist health food shops and hemp “dispensaries” since 1998. It’s estimated that there are 1.3 million regular users of CBD in the UK and 6 million people have tried it in the last year. The UK market is forecasted to grow almost £1bn a year by 2025 and more brands than ever are infusing products with the extract, offering a remedy for everything from anxiety to arthritic pain.
CBD is fast becoming normalised and seen “very much as a health and wellness product rather than a 1970’s class A drug” according to Rebekah Hall, founder and CEO of juice business Botanic Lab. The CBD market has exploded in recent years.
The infused products have complex regulatory standards, so how are brands positioning themselves to embrace this trend?
Marketers are maximising on the craze
Marketers have to work closely with regulatory bodies to keep up with the fast-paced changes of the complex regulatory standards and to advertise products in a way that shifts consumer’s connotations of the substance. The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) admit there’s no “one size fits all” definition and that rules vary from product to product.
56% of CBD users are said to trust CBD brands more than some established pharmaceutical brands, highlighting the power a well-marketed product has in building consumer trust.
In the USA, Heineken-owned craft brewery, Lagunitas Brewery Company partnered with CannaCraft to launch a CBD sparkling water drink in response to more consumers seeking less alcoholic drinks. Karen Hamilton, director of community relations at Lagunitas Brewery Company strongly recommends partnering with a company with greater knowledge of the extract, as “They were a big brother on the legal side.” Hamilton urges marketers to “Do as much learning as possible” to keep track of the changing regulations.
Founders of CBD-only retailer LDN CBD, launched after attending cannabis conferences in the US and recognised a lack of UK retailers. After a successful popup store, they opened a permanent shop in Camden in 2018, the first of its kind. They’ve developed a loyal following and believe it’s down to customers wanting to experience CBD in real-life and talk to staff. Consumers seek stores to “experience products offline but then buy online.”
Education is key
It’s human nature to pick brands you know, especially in a new industry, but CBD is likely to carry weight no matter the brand. Consumers are at a point where they have probably heard of CBD but for brands to get consumers to the stage where they make a purchase, they must educate. The market is young, and consumers are seeking trusted recourses. Brands must create campaigns that change behaviour and disrupt enough to gain attention and educate.
Viridian Pharmaceuticals, a firm focused on developing safe and effective delivery of natural therapeutics, have taken a scientifically driven approach to the crowded CBD market to set them apart. Their stance represents a broader market perspective held by medical professions who are intrigued by CBD treatments but preach temperance in its application as more research is conducted on its effects.
Future of CBD product advertising
As the market rapidly evolves, regulators are playing catch-up and call on marketers as it being their “responsibility to establish which regulatory regime applies to their individual product” and to act in a way that’s responsible.
Partnerships are an effective way for brands to target consumers responsibly. One US company has teamed up with a medical community and run launches to educate the locals on safe cannabis use and LDN CBD hold in store workshops on wellness and yoga to educate consumers. User experience has already played a significant role in building trust and changing the perception of CBD from a Class A drug to an extract that’s produced from a natural, holistic origin.
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