The CBD and cannabis industries have always had a bit of an identity crisis in terms of branding. After all, the plant has both medicinal and euphoria-inducing properties, so it appeals to different types of people for different purposes. Will your target consumers use it to have a good time, to medicate, or a little bit of both? If it’s both, how do you straddle that line? Are your competitors simply natural remedies and over-the-counter medicines, or are they alcohol and coffee manufacturers as well?
The emergence of CBD products is complicating the matter even further. Because CBD does not have the psychoactive properties of cannabis, it has been entering the mainstream at a much faster rate. Since the passage of the Farm Bill in 2018, large retailers have entered the space, catapulting the industry's growth expectations to $24.4 billion through 2025. CBD brands, online market places, e-comm platforms, and large retailers are all involved and trying to identify ways to further differentiate their company and products from this increasingly saturated market.
If CBD manufacturers are to effectively stand out, they need to make sure their marketing and positioning strategy resonates with their core consumers. These companies are looking to identify consumer attributes that are beginning to look like the comprehensive buyer personas CPG companies have been leveraging for decades. Companies need to develop robust marketing strategies that span across search, social, PR, and be able to leverage partnerships that further gauge market interest. It is not longer enough to fill your site with the word CBD and assume people will gravitate to it. Quality content, messaging, and user experience - aligned with your brand - and targeted to the proper consumers is what will drive results.
Additionally, by further understanding their core consumers, the most successful CBD brands have been able to leverage value-based marketing to further resonate with customers online. Many CBD companies fall into one of a few key values categories based on how they position their company and products. These values are directly aligned with how consumers view themselves and the motivations they have when aligning with any new company.
Companies hoping to successfully market and sell CBD products must rethink both their development, marketing, and branding strategies altogether. If you are growing a CBD company, it will be worthwhile to ask yourself:
Is my company and brand aligned with my core consumers?
This can be a tough question to answer as it requires researching whether your brand resonates to the people you want it to resonate with (and on an ongoing basis). Confusing or mis-aligned branding to the wrong people can be a heavy cost, both financially and to brand equity. Once you build a solid brand strategy that aligns with who you are as a company and who you want to target, you can begin to optimize your sales funnel to bring those that are aware of your brand into lifelong customers.
What can I do to stand out in a rapidly growing market?
Companies that want to excel need to heavily invest in marketing while the industry is still dominated by CBD brands. As more large retailers and CPG companies enter the space, they will acquire and partner with the best brands. This will become even more pressing for CBD companies as the FDA makes progress on legal pathways for CBD, paving the way for the retail, beverage, and beauty giants. These large companies are used to developing expensive, complex, and integrated campaigns and strategies to acquire and retain new customers. CBD brands have time on their side to get ahead but it is quickly running out.
Last updated: December 15, 2018