CBD Sales Going Slack? Consumer Confusion Could Be Why
by
Eliana Lachter
|
January 1, 2020

As consumers begin to learn about CBD and approach products with more sophisticated understanding, companies must differentiate themselves from their competitors through smart branding and effective consumer education. When consumers feel that a brand is both a knowledgeable and trustworthy source of information, half the battle has already been won. 

Research from The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) recently discovered that while 62% of Americans are familiar with CBD, most have little understanding of the products that are flooding retail shelves and e-commerce shops. 

This consumer confusion includes:

  • Uncertainty about what CBD actually is (39% of Americans believe CBD is just another name for marijuana.)
  • Whether CBD can intoxicate or cause the feeling of a ‘high’ (more than 50% of Americans believe that CBD has the potential to intoxicate.)
  • Whether products made with CBD are regulated and safe to consume (76% of Americans incorrectly assume that CBD products are already subject to federal regulations and uniform safety oversights.)

This lack of consumer education is shaping up to be a major factor in hurting CBD sales. 

CBD companies can claim a critical edge by educating consumers and building brand — and product — trust. 

CBD confusion causing a slump in sales

The consumer confusion is eye-opening, especially since one in three Americans is already using CBD products somewhere in their health and wellness routines. For the curious, albeit confused consumer, trying to find the real distinction between products (ingesting, inhaling, or topical application) can be difficult, if not futile.

This begs the question of why so many Americans are jumping on the CBD bandwagon without a proper understanding of the product. Maybe the willingness stems from the perception that CBD products are all-natural or organic. Perhaps their enormous dominance on the health and wellness scene simply has many assuming CBD is regulated. The GMA study found that:

  • 92% of American consumers have no idea if CBD is federally regulated or not. The confusion makes sense as it's certainly hard to keep up with the ever-changing regulations. 
  • 82% of Americans expressed concern when told that there were no CBD safety regulations in place. 

Although hemp-derived CBD is technically legal as a result of the 2018 Farm Bill, cannabis remains illegal on a federal level causing laws to be heavily fragmented by state. This constant shifting of federal laws and a lack of a uniform regulatory structure has left the CBD industry with a loose set of guidelines that many companies take as mere suggestions.

So why are Americans using CBD?

A consumer walking into any supermarket or browsing the internet will come across a slew of CBD ads and related products. Since it burst onto the market as a coveted cure-all, many Americans are turning to CBD as an all-natural, organic remedy for their ailments. So what are the most common conditions making American reach for CBD?

  • Pain management (52%)
  • Stress or anxiety (50%) 
  • Sleep-related issues (43%) 
  • Skincare (44%)
  • Dietary supplements (39%)

How can all this help improve your CBD marketing?

While many potential consumers could be interested in purchasing CBD products, the public wants the same transparency and standards already part of other industries, including the ability to purchase from brands they know and trust.

It is important to turn potential consumers into educated brand-loyalists by helping find the product that is most suited for their needs. Conveying clear information can be done in the following ways:

  • Define your product. It’s hard to market a product when you lack a clear grasp of its unique features. Before moving forward, clearly define what your product is and how it’s meant to help consumers.
  • Create killer content. Create blog posts, videos and podcasts that are accessible, informative, and help position your brand as an industry knowledge leader. 
  • Segment and target. Create interesting, informational, and SEO-optimized content that educates your target audience. If your product is geared towards pain and insomnia, you’ll want to have well-researched content surrounding what questions customers might have about CBD pain or how it helps give you a good night’s sleep.
  • If content is king, SEO is its loyal queen. Do your keyword due diligence and compile a list of the most common keywords you can use in your content that are relevant to your company/product. Make sure to use keywords that are slight variations of the most popular phrases to ensure your marketing has more of an impact. 
  • Promote your brand. Expand the impact of your perfectly curated content by using cannabis-specific ad networks such as CannBe and sponsored content promoted on other popular websites.
  • Stay compliant. Remember that your customers are buying your product to improve their health and quality of life. Among a sea of dubious brands making unfounded health claims and going against FDA guidelines, set yourself apart by being a stalwart of honesty and transparency. Your customers will trust you for it and you’ll see the difference in your bottom line.

The take-away

In a market that is quickly becoming saturated and fiercely competitive, consumers are suffering from CBD confusion and an overall lack of product education, causing a weakening of sales. Only companies that focus on proper consumer education can gain a market advantage. 

You can accomplish this by using a content strategy on hyper-targeted, customized content marketing like blogs and short videos across the digital suite of paid searches, social media, and your brand’s webpage. By creating a brand that is a trustworthy source of information, you’re cementing your place as a valuable player in a billion-dollar industry.


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