One year after WEBB Banks launched WB Canna Co. & Wellness LLC to focus on the emerging Cannabis and Wellness industries, the subsidiary has had great success growing these categories in the Caribbean, Central America, and travel retail, Phillip Jarrell, WB Canna COO tells TMI.
“We had high expectations of CBD, but Wellness has surged ahead to be the leader of the two categories. We think that CBD will catch up and eventually surpass, but right now Wellness is really where we are focused on turning a lot of volume. But that gives us a lot of opportunities with placing/seeding the market when it comes to CBD,” says Jarrell.
When the WEBB Banks subsidiary was launched in March 2021, its CBD division was announced with anchor brands that are still leading the way for WB Canna, says Jarrell.
cbdMD, which is a leader in the CBD industry, comes with a varied portfolio of CBD oil tinctures, gummies, sleep aids, and other products which are currently available in more than 30 countries across the globe. Publicly traded cbdMD also sponsors and supports numerous influencers and athletes who use and endorse their products, including pro golfer Bubba Watson, MMA fighter Daniel Cormier, top fuel drag racer Leah Pruett, and the NOBULL CrossFit Games.
WB Canna Co. & Wellness also launched with Docklight Brands, producers of the Marley CBD portfolio. Docklight brings Bob Marley’s belief in the positive potential of the herb to consumers worldwide through infused teas, wellness shots, chocolates, and skincare products crafted with intention and respect.
Rounding out the launch portfolio was Secret Nature, offering award winning crafted premium organic CBD flowers, vapes, pre-rolls, and Rare Earth Medicine (REM) sleep capsules. Founded in 2017, Secret Nature products are all-natural lab-tested small batch CBD flowers and extracts.
New CBD brands
“That early wave of brands for us, including Marley CBD, Secret Nature, and cbdMD, are still our leaders. We are so excited to have them as part of our portfolio. The category needs and requires a broader base of brands for consumers to pull from and answer different consumer need-states. We’ve added some interesting brands recently,” says Jarrell.
WB Canna has signed with Peels, which is an orange peel-based CBD brand, which Jarrell sees as an opportunity in some markets where hemp-based CBD is illegal.
“The legislation in countries never outlaws CBD. When it is outlawed it is hemp-based. Peels has a bit of a legal opportunity to circumvent some of the rejections that hemp-based CBD might have. We see this as an opportunity for people who are flying to the Middle East, Africa, or East Asia where hemp-based CBD might get them in trouble. Likewise in the Caribbean in markets where there is a larger Muslim or Hindu population like in Trinidad.”
The company has also added Quatreau, which is a CBD seltzer from Canopy Growth.
“We see a big opportunity; beverage is our wheelhouse. Quatreau will be the number one CBD beverage in the United States in 2022.”
“In other newer brands, Martha Stewart is another opportunity to invite in new consumers. We see it inviting the 45 plus crowd into the category and delivering quality, safe, and effective products,” says Jarrell.
“We also see good potential for Island Girl, especially in the Caribbean. We think the name Island Girl connotes the attitude, the image for the type of consumer we want to attract to it.”
With CBD still not legal in all markets, Jarrell sees education as key to growing the category.
“CBD is legal in a handful of markets at this time, but the CBD legal landscape is evolving greatly and we think 2022 will be a great year. But even where legal, even in markets where it has been legal for three or four years, there is still a lot of uncertainty with the marketplace itself. There has to be more education,” he says.
“We, along with our brand partners, are going to be leaders in driving the education necessary to get everyone to the level that they need to be. We are still dealing with some very prohibitionist types of laws. Even after prohibition is over there will still be some concerns over how to really do it well. That is where our educational platform, our team, and the power of our brand portfolio should hopefully flatten that curve a bit.”
“Right now the consumer is more educated and knowledgeable in what they are looking for than the trade is. The trade is playing some catch up and needs to listen to what the consumer is looking for. We are trying to educate on all levels.”
Leading CBD markets
CBD has really taken off in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Bermuda, says Jarrell.
“Puerto Rico is our biggest success. It is our biggest market and the most mature when it comes to the CBD category. It will also be our biggest Wellness market. We have aimed our resources there. We have employees living on the island and are very tied into the dispensary community, the pharmacy community, and the supermarket and convenience store channels.
The fact that Puerto Rico also follows U.S. Federal law, along with the U.S. Virgin Islands, makes selling easier with fewer hurdles to clear.
Jarrell says that he sees more opportunities for CBD in the travel retail sector now as well.
“Restrictions are being relaxed right now. There are now opportunities to do more activations and consumer engagement in the stores in a domestic environment, onboard cruises, or in airports. Some of the other markets that we are excited about this year for CBD are led by Bermuda, Costa Rica, and Aruba.”
In Wellness, BioSteel, WB Canna’s anchor brand in the category, is doing exceptionally well onboard Norwegian Cruise Lines, says Jarrell.
“Norwegian Cruise Lines was an early adopter of BioSteel, and the success speaks to the shared values and belief in ‘better for you’ brands — for consumers and for the environment,” he says.
“The incredible quality of the brand’s ingredients coupled with zero sugar meets consumers new expectations for healthier lifestyles, the eco-friendly packaging meets NCL’s and the industry’s march toward sustainability and less single use plastics, and the cultural phenomenon of BioSteel with its explosive growth with associations with great sports individuals like Luka Doncic and Patrick Mahomes, teams like the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers and national programs like the US Soccer Federation which includes the U.S. Men’s, Women’s and all youth soccer.
“We expect to see other cruise lines and the travel retail network across the Americas continue to adopt brands like BioSteel throughout 2022.”
Jarrell says there are a lot fewer obstacles for its Wellness brands in the Caribbean.
“We have been able to expand to many more markets where CBD is not legal. We see focus this year in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and larger population center markets,” he says.
“While Biosteel is the cornerstone of our Wellness portfolio, Dream Water is another interesting Wellness brand. We see Wellness being a broad category that we can find the right brands that consumers are looking for to enhance their mental and physical well being.”