Miami-based wine and spirits distributor WEBB Banks has opened a new division focused on the distribution of top- quality cannabidiol (CBD) and wellness products, a product area in which the company sees tremendous growth potential.
The new wholly owned subsidiary, called WB Canna Co. & Wellness, will handle distribution of these fast-growing product categories in the Caribbean, Central America and travel retail.
WB Canna Co. & Wellness is bringing a comprehensive and diverse portfolio of some of the top brands in the CBD and wellness category to the market. This marks the first time many of these products have been available in the region.
Leading the portfolio is cbdMD, the largest CBD and wellness company in the industry. cbdMD 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 is also launching 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.
The Docklight portfolio also includes The Goodship CBD confections, and Rommie’s Bloody Mary Jane – a Bloody Mary mix infused with CBD.
Rounding out the launch portfolio is 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.
Andy Consuegra, CEO of Miami-based WEBB Banks and WB Canna Co. & Wellness, tells TMI that he will soon announce additional high-profile brands in the portfolio as well.
Speaking with TMI in their new Coconut Grove office, Consuegra and his WB Canna Co. & Wellness team – Phillip Jarrell, COO of the new subsidiary, Luis Consuegra, Commercial Manager, Daniela Maduro, Portfolio Marketing Manager and Paola Wolf, Portfolio Marketing Manager, explain why the company is expanding into this new product category.
“This started with a project we did last summer when everything slowed down. We analyzed what we thought business will be like after the lockdown and identified CBD and wellness as core areas for the future,” says Conseugra.
“Looking at the rapid growth of CBD and wellness brands, I’ve never before seen that level of consumer enthusiasm for new brands and categories. This is a big industry that will only continue to evolve. And we have the experi-ence, market knowledge, and rela-tionships to bring these products to market – not to mention, we’re launching with truly fantastic brands,” he continues.
“We are used to working in a regulated market with wines and spirits. And this is a very regulated market. We also understand the importance of brand and category training and activations, and we know how to navigate complex compliance regulations in a constantly changing environment. So this expansion of our product portfolio was the ideal place for us to grow our business,” he notes.
Consuegra believes that his company is uniquely qualified to introduce the category and make it grow.
“We are used to working in a regulated market with wines and spirits. And this is a very regulated market. We also understand the importance of brand and category training and activations, and we know how to navigate complex compliance regulations in a cons-tantly changing environment. So this expansion of our product portfolio was the ideal place for us to grow our business,” he notes.
Consuegra and Jarrell recognize that coming in with the right brands and a full portfolio that would offer options for different market segments would be key to the success of the new venture. Once the portfolio came together, they knew the time was right to launch this new subsidiary, especially as travel begins to open and the region comes out of the pandemic lockdowns.
“Our portfolio is about brand recognition and consistency of quality. Having a publicly traded company like cbdMD as one of our key brands is critical. We are very much in here for the long haul and I think we can be doubling our business with this. But it is going to take time and a lot of education,” says Consuegra.
“We couldn’t be happier with the brands that we have in our portfolio. They are well known brands, consumers know them, there is a consistency in quality, there are investment levels, and they all hit different need states,” he added.
WB Canna Co. & Wellness is led by Phillip Jarrell who has been with WEBB Banks for 10 years, and includes a team of dedicated sales managers with deep insight into the cannabis and wellness industries.
Like parent company WEBB Banks, WB Canna Co. & Wellness employs staff on-the-ground in the territories they serve who have existing knowledge of the category and brands, as well as regional laws and regulations. This extensive local experience gives brands under the WB Canna Co. & Wellness portfolio confidence to enter these new markets and the opportunity to expand as more countries legalize use of these products.
“There’s enormous opportunity for CBD and wellness products in our markets, especially as travel and tourism continues to come back,” says Jarrell.
“We’ve assembled a powerful portfolio of recognized brands that meet many different consumer needs, from mood modulation to sleep, and relaxation to refreshment. With these brands, coupled with new products to come, we expect our CBD and wellness business will double within a year.”
Jarrell tells TMI that education will play an important role as WB Canna Co. & Wellness launches its portfolio into the region.
“It is extremely important to come in with these well-known brands, to be able to walk in with names that can be trusted. This gives us instant credibility so we can establish what the category should look like.
“The brands that are currently out there are not to this quality level both from a product quality point of view but also how they have gone to market and conducted education. They haven’t educated the consumer or done any proper merchandising in the stores.
“We are going to be very proactive with education at all levels: at the importer/distributor level, the trade level, and with the end consumer,” he insists.
Immense market potential
According to estimates from New Frontier Data, the quickly expanding CBD industry is expected to reach $1.3 billion in sales next year, up from $390 million in 2018. Estimates from BDS Analytics and Arcview suggest that CBD sales will reach more than $20 billion by 2024.
Warehousing out of Miami, the new WB Canna Co. & Wellness division will launch its CBD portfolio in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Aruba, Jamaica, and Bermuda, as permitted by local law. Its broader wellness portfolio, which excludes CBD products, will launch in all Caribbean, Central American, and duty free markets. By the end of 2021, the company expects to open distribution of CBD products in all regulated markets in the region and travel retail.
cbdMD leads the way for CBD and Wellness channel
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.