Overcoming Myth and Misunderstanding in the CBD Market
Michael Wandschneider, Director, Strategic Planning and Natasha French, Client Services Lead
Strategic Insight - Wellness and Lifestylec
Despite the challenging business climate over the last couple of years, cannabis companies have continued to push forward with new product launches and expanded production. Undoubtedly buoyed by the increasing number of states legalising adult-use cannabis, not to mention growing mainstream awareness and acceptance of CBD, this entrepreneurial and creative spirit addresses the basic economics of supply and demand. But it fails to answer of the fundamental challenges still facing the marketplace – namely how to align products with the emotional and physical needs of consumers.
Despite the legal and regulatory hurdles still to overcome in medical and adult-use cannabis (or perhaps, ironically because CBD currently lacks them), it is really the CBD market that is most in need of an intervention. Can anyone argue that the best way to convey confidence in the physical and emotional benefits of CBD in its many forms is by promoting in strip-mall vape shops? Or adult gift bazaars? How about this non-sequitur – Family Video & CBD? For all the positive articles we see nearly every day, these conflicting meanings only undermine the credibility and tremendous potential for CBD.
One of the great challenges in the CBD category is the lack of consumer knowledge leading to myths and misunderstanding when it comes to the broad, often conflicting, benefits claimed, the myriad of formats from topicals to edibles, and the overwhelm of differing strength and ingredient combinations, with all this even before you consider the stigma for many in the connection to pre-legalisation cannabis. It’s no wonder that many are hesitant to try CBD unless recommended by a friend or in desperate need.
That said, there are some great examples of companies rising above the noise. While they cannot single-handedly fix all that ails the CBD market, their products consider how individuals make sense of their world and needs, and the complexities and context of their individual experiences. The result is an authenticity that inspires confidence in performance and efficacy of their products.
Clean CBD for athletic performance
One category going great lengths to prove the clean credentials and legitimacy of benefits for both physical and mental performance is the CBD for sport category. Beam has been the leading light here, with the brand developed by two founders who’s experience as “avid crossfit competitors, ironman triathletes, marathoners and former professional athletes” led them to see the potential of CBD for sporting performance and recovery. With a lack of products offering the required reassurance of quality, efficacy and ingredient transparency, they decided to create their own. This reassurance and the clarity of their clean credentials means their products are now trusted by individuals from all walks of life, far beyond the sporting field and locker-room.
In THC legal markets, brands are working hard to resolve some of the myth and stigma that remains, something which can only help in the acceptance of CBD as a product of every-day appeal. Premium edibles brand Kiva have a whole category of work-out products promising to “perfectly complement the natural high you get from endorphins and help keep your mood elevated and pain mitigated for the length of your action-packed workout”; a world away from outdated associations and concerns of ‘couch-lock’. Professional athlete are even getting on board, with basketballers Larry Sanders and Omri Casspi investing in cannabis spray brand Click.
But CBD has the potential to provide solutions to even more complex and divergent needs in categories that have traditionally lacked investigation and innovation.
Versatile CBD to support the natural variation of women’s health
While the cure-all claims of CBD can cause concerns of overpromise, this variability can prove a real plus when considering more complex challenges. The constant change and variation in the female hormone system, not only monthly, but through changing life stages means that much clinical testing rules women out. The flexibility and versatility of CBD’s promise and its interaction with the human endocannabinoid system mean that CBD can be better placed to support women’s natural variation from menstruation to menopause. The plant-based power of CBD also offers women a viable alternative to regular reliance on more synthetic pharmaceuticals.
The Good Patch offer discrete long-acting CBD infused patches to help manage menstrual cycles and the symptoms of menopause proving the versatility of CBD. And they aren’t alone in considering interesting new formats to allow better targeted and more discrete delivery. British brand Daye launched a CBD infused tampon, and where they found regulation and certification lacking, sought to define standards, clinically prove performance and produce a consumer accessible white paper ensuring reassurance, transparency and education.
So, the question to CBD brands or brands looking to move into the CBD category: Are you creating a clear and consistent voice amongst a crowded category with overwhelming choice and often underwhelming performance? Are you aligning with consumer resonant needs and meanings? Are you able to target the meaning driven needs of large but underrepresented cohorts of consumers? If you want to use these insights to lead the way in a rapidly developing category, contact us.
At Recipe Design everything we do is focused on what things mean to people and why these meanings matter.
Our world-class team has pioneered the use of semiotics and cultural analysis as integral to the design and NPD process for over 15 years. Blending insight, strategy and creativity allows us to see the opportunities, express them with clarity and bring them to life through design. If you wish to rise above the noise, please contact us.