If you are considering developing a CBD product or adding CBD to one of your existing products, the time to pull the trigger is now. Everyone is excited about this ingredient. If you’ve come up with a great idea, know who your target customer is and you’ve got a funding plan — all the regular business stuff — and you’re ready to jump in, here’s how you should you prioritize your energy to optimize for this specific niche.
Define your value IN the market
CBD is being added to everything under the sun. The market is still expanding, but saturation is on the horizon. What will your product offer besides just CBD? Will it outperform existing similar form factors, or be a new form factor altogether?
When articulating your value proposition remember that medical claims and structure-function claims are off limits. You are not allowed to market an anti-anxiety soda (not yet, anyway). Learning how to state your products unique benefits without using prohibited language is an invaluable marketing exercise.
Hire A STRONG TEAM
…especially if you are new to product development. Everyone knows the right team can make or break any product, but it’s especially true in the CBD world. An emergent market with lax regulations is the perfect circumstance for unprofessional and/or incompetent entrepreneurs to thrive. Your goal is to weed through the charlatans without weeding out talented partners from the pre-legalization market.
Get ready to do a lot of interviewing. Think about unknown unknowns: the things you don’t even know that you don’t know — and hire people who can illuminate your dark spots. You’ll likely need to create new roles to deal with the unique challenges of formulating with CBD, such as a packaging specialist or an extraction consultant. Even with systems as easy to use as SōRSE, you will want to make sure your ingredients are optimized; contract with a cannabis expert who has worked with CBD before and have them review your formula.
Focus on process — but stay nimble
Most companies in the CBD market are severely lacking in the process department. Thousands of worker hours are wasted reinventing the wheel whenever a problem crops up. Don’t get so caught up in iteration that you neglect process. It won’t be long before the federal government is forced to create a real, enforceable legal framework for CBD. Those who invest in strong systems now will survive the upcoming regulatory onslaught.
That said, the regulations are likely to remain volatile for some time, just like everything in this market. Consider paying a premium for smaller packaging runs rather than saving money by ordering in bulk, for example, because label overhauls are the rule rather than the exception. Don’t expect that customer demographics will break along the usual lines; CBD has tremendous crossover appeal. Always be ready to pivot and adapt.
Do your trademark homework
So many companies have had to rebrand as a result of insufficient competitor research, or worse, the hubris of believing that since CBD is quasi-legal it is immune to trademark infringement complaints from fully legal markets. You don’t want to go through the work of painstakingly building up a brand identity only to find out via cease-and-desist that you have to start all over. Think outside the box and find an unusual, attention grabbing name.