If you’ve been paying attention…at all…to the CPG industry these days, then you can probably guess what I’m about to say:
CBD oil and all the products it infuses are the hottest thing since…well, anything, it seems. It’s taking the health and wellness category, and potentially the food industry as a whole by storm, FDA approval be damned. According to research from Acosta, more than a quarter of consumers use CBD products either daily or as needed, of which 56 percent of those are Millennials, and 48 percent are men. Consumers are using it to help their anxiety, joint and muscle pain, and they’re using it for wellness in general.
It seems the mantra of the pro-CBD movement is “let no product be left unturned,” thus we’re seeing CBD oil-infused pet products, beverages, lotions, and so, so much more.
In short, CBD is where it’s at.
Or is it?
I’m all for products featuring ingredients that are better-for-you, and will aid a person on his or her health and wellness journey. I’m also all for products that work in these ingredients smartly, and aren’t simply throwing ingredients into products because said ingredient is buzzworthy.
Because while a new ingredient may be making waves, that doesn’t mean you, as a supplier, should drop everything and rush to work it into your product formula, or even consider including it in your formulation. (I’m looking at you, Coca-Cola and Mondelez.)
Here are three questions to ask yourself about your product, if you’re considering going down the CBD path:
1. Is it right for your product? Assume that the FDA is going to give CBD its stamp of approval, blowing open entry for innumerable new products. (Though it should be noted that the FDA recently issued warnings to consumers about the safety of CBD. This is mainly surrounding illegal CBD products, but it’s worth remembering that there’s still a lot of research that needs to be done on this trendy ingredient.) What would your product gain from the addition of CBD? Besides, of course, tapping into a very prominent trend. It’s a question that suppliers really need to think about, because if it doesn’t work out, and consumers aren’t flocking to this new version, there’s damage control that will need to be done when you switch back to the original formula. Think about the implications beyond recent headlines.
2. Are you adding full-spectrum, or CBD isolate? There’s a difference—full-spectrum CBD is an extract that includes all sorts of other compounds that naturally occur in the hemp plant from which CBD is derived, like terpenes. CBD isolate, on the other hand, is just like it sounds—straight CBD, without all the additional compounds. and using one or the other could affect the effectiveness of your product. Educate yourself before you add one or the other. And know, too, that if you do incorporate CBD into your products, you’re going to need to educate consumers as well. As Larry Levin and Jessica Lukas write in a recent Food Navigator-US article, “Shoppers’ lack of correct information surrounding cannabinoid products creates an opportunity for manufacturers to collaborate with retailers in building shopper loyalty through educational initiatives….Trust and reliability are important to consumers.”
3. Does your audience really want it? This plays into the first question, but it’s important enough to consider every angle. Who is your audience, and are they interested in CBD-infused products? If they are, great! You could really deliver on a consumer demand. And if they aren’t, great! Not everyone is going to be a CBD enthusiast, and if your product is already a hit with consumers, there’s no reason to force the issue. (In other words, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.)
Still considering it? Cool. Also, understandable. CBD sales are expected to increase from $2 billion (with a b) in 2018 to $20 billion (still with a b) in 2024. Just make sure to do your research so you know exactly what it is that you’re including in your product, what your consumers want, and what it can—or can’t—do for your product. Be an informed supplier, and consumers will thank you.