It seems like everywhere you turn CBD is being talked about or sold. Traditional retail brands, including American Eagle Outfitters and Barneys New York, for example, are getting in on the action. But what exactly is CBD, and what do you need to know if you want to start incorporating those types of products into your business? We talked to four women in the CBD space — Jill Beraud, CEO and co-founder of Sh’nnong Beverage Company, a natural beverage company that has a line of teas infused with CBD, with its products sold at The Vitamin Shoppe; Danielle Cearbaugh, store owner of Joy Organics-Austin, a family-owned CBD brand; Cathleen Mitchell, founder of Kaya Hemp Company, a one-stop shopping experience for everything CBD and hemp in Phoenix; and Aliza Sherman, CEO and co-founder of Ellementa, a global women’s cannabis wellness network — to find out what you need to know about this trendy topic.
CBD is short for cannabidiol, and it’s a chemical compound found in marijuana and hemp. “Cannabis as a plant is sort of like a super plant or a super food,” Sherman explains. “It’s chock-full of these chemical compounds, which scientists are discovering are very compatible with our body.” One of those compounds is CBD, which may help treat conditions like pain, anxiety and insomnia. CBD is often put in products to help soothe pain and promote wellness, such as gummies, balms, vape pens and even beverages. It’s also often available in oil form. Unlike its cousin, THC, CBD does not get consumers high.
So, why is CBD blowing up now even though it was discovered 80 years ago?
“Everybody’s always looking for the next hot thing to make you healthier,” says Sherman, whose website has become a bridge between consumers who are looking for trusted products and cannabis companies looking to advertise to women. “Everyone wants to live longer, have a better life. And so whenever something comes out in the news, everyone wants to try it.”
Beraud, who previously served as global chief marketing officer of PepsiCo, also believes CBD attracts people who are interested in living healthier lifestyles. “We see CBD as something that has a very broad appeal,” Beraud notes. “When people learn about it and get educated on the benefits of CBD, it’s something that appeals to men and women. We see it as more of a psychographic rather than a demographic. Anybody that’s really interested in health and wellness will be interested in CBD.”
While CBD has become increasingly popular with most consumers, it has become especially popular with women. “Women tend to be the caretakers and the purchasers of everything in the household,” Mitchell says. “They’re just searching for the most natural way to help not only themselves, but their family, their husbands and their kids.” This is why the Kaya Hemp store in Phoenix is not just a place where people can buy CBD products, it’s a destination. Think more high-end boutique, less vape shop, which allows it to attract a whole different type of customer. Furthermore, the shop offers an education element, allowing skeptical consumers to learn more about CBD.
Though it seems like every retailer is jumping on the CBD bandwagon, a lot of roadblocks for marketing and selling the products still exist. “It’s definitely a challenge in a lot of ways because although the 2018 Farm Bill made [CBD] legal on the federal level, the regulation in terms of the quality [is still unclear],” explains Mitchell. “The FDA [and] the USDA still haven’t really given any kind of direction on how they’re going to manage or regulate. We’re all kind of waiting for that, which basically will then go to each state, much like alcohol or cigarettes. So we’re in kind of a gray area right now.”
Mitchell recommends retailers stay up-to-date on the regulations, as well as familiarizing themselves with specific state laws and requirements once they’re formed. With the CBD industry growing so quickly, there’s somewhat of an oversaturation, but Mitchell believes upcoming regulations may help with that.
“The market is so saturated right now that I think as the different regulations come into play, both on the federal and state level, there will be a weeding out, no pun intended,” says Mitchell.
Despite a lot of gray areas, the CBD industry is still expected to grow rapidly. “I think the potential is enormous,” Beraud notes. “Every time you open a blog or read an industry report, it just gets bigger and bigger — $16 billion by 2025, COWAN quoted. I think there still needs to be a lot of education about what CBD is and what it isn’t. I think the whole regulatory environment needs to be clarified. Having the FDA weigh in on regulations within the CBD space will unlock the future because right now a lot of retailers are kind of sitting on the sidelines waiting for the FDA to clarify the regulations. Once that happens, the industry, I believe, will explode.”
The biggest thing for retailers to keep in mind if they want to start selling CBD products is to make sure they are 100 percent confident with the third-party wholesaler they buy from, because ultimately their name brand is getting tied to the product, whether it’s good or bad.
“I would recommend retailers find the best wholesaler out there, with lab results that are visual for people to look at,” advises Cearbaugh. “And I would say minimal ingredients. Organic is huge because I think so many of us are realizing now what we’re putting in our body and how it matters […] The purity of the product is probably the most important thing. If you want your customer to have results, then you need to give them the best product out there.”