cbdMD, the largest CBD and wellness company in the industry, is one of the key brands in WB Canna Co. & Wellness’ portfolio that it is launching into the Caribbean, Central America, and travel retail. Offering a varied portfolio of CBD oil tinctures, gummies, sleep aids, and other products, cbdMD is available in more than 30 countries across the globe.
When the Agricultural Improve-ment Act of 2018, which is more commonly known as the “2018 Farm Bill,” was signed in 2018, it legalized the cultivation of hemp and the sale of products derived from hemp (which contain CBD), publicly traded cbdMD was all ready to bring its THC-free, CBD products to market, Pancho Mangual, cbdMD E.V.P., Sales tells TMI.
“When the Farm Bill was signed in December 2018 – which legalized CBD in all 50 states, subject to state regulations, we were already set up and became the first American CBD pure play company to be publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. One of the rigors of CBD is the lack of credibility, transparency and misinformation. Seeing that we were publicly traded legitimized us for the public,” says Mangual.
Further enhancing its perception of legitimacy, cbdMD launched its products first in pharmacies, a route to market that is reflected in its packaging.
“We didn’t focus on big box retail. We knew that the challenge for CBD is education, making sure that people understand exactly what the products are (and are not). Our first go-to-market was pharmacies, which is why we chose this clean, sterile look. We wanted to put the product in an arena where customers could get proper consultation from a pharmacist or pharmacy employee who is more knowledgeable than staff might be in other outlets,” he says.
“We were very deliberate with the packaging to make it look clinical. It is a big move from some of the competitors that feature packaging with a hemp leaf or tie dye.”
Training and consistency
Education and training will remain an essential component as cbdMD’s CBD products are launched into the region, says Andy Consuegra, CEO of WEBB Banks and WB Canna Co. & Wellness.
“That is where WEBB Banks and WB Canna come into play. One of the reasons they hired us was to do a lot of the training. Just like we do with wines, where we have to do ongoing trainings, we will do that for the cbdMD products. Education is critical for CBD,” stresses Consuegra.
“Training and activations in-store are critical. When we get these products into the stores we want to make sure they are going to work. We want to build this business slowly. In duty free, for example, we want to get in one or two airports at a time and build on it from there.”
The consistency and quality of the cbdMD products set it apart from most of its competitors, says Consuegra. All of cbdMD’s hemp is made in the USA.
“A big challenge of this industry is the consistency of quality. One of the things we love about cbdMD is that they have this consistency,” he says.
The cbdMD name recognition that comes with being the largest CBD company in the industry is another key aspect of the brand.
“When it comes to share of voice and awareness, we have the name recognition. We are one of the top two CBD recognized brand names in the US, and globally we are the most recognized,” explains Mangual.
Trust through Partnerships
cbdMD has raised awareness for its products through critical partner-ships with numerous influencers and athletes. Among the top names who use and endorse their products are pro golfer Bubba Watson, MMA fighter Daniel Cormier, top fuel drag racer Leah Pruett, and the NOBULL CrossFit Games.
Not only did this deliberate approach raise awareness of the brand, but it went a long way to create a positive image.
“Our marketing strategy was to break the negative stigma of CBD through partnerships with athletes who have been trusted or at least synonymous with victory. A lot of our athletes are at the end of their careers. We wanted to show how these athletes can incorporate our products to help them extend their activities and be competitive with muscle recovery,” says Mangual.
Tailoring the right offer
The first products that cbdMD sold were CBD oil tinctures, but its portfolio has now evolved to include its best-selling CBD gummies, pet products, and brand new, a cbdMD Botanicals skincare line, which Mangual and Consuegra say is perfect for duty free.
Offering the right assortment and sizes will be imperative for the cbdMD brand as it moves into travel retail.
“For travel retail, I prefer to focus on topicals and ingestibles that make sense, ie gummies, soft gels, and pm. Because of limited shelf space, I don’t think putting out eight different tinctures is the way to go,” says Mangual.
“I think that CBD has not worked in convenience stores or travel so far due to a combination of too high price points and offering the wrong pieces. We have to make it easy for the consumer to understand and to buy. It failed before for three major reasons: brand recognition, price point, and product offering.”
cbdMD already has had success with its cbdMD products in the Galleria in Hawaii, and Mangual believes that now is the right time and WB Canna is the right partner to grow its business throughout travel retail.