Are you a company trying to market cannabidiol (CBD)? Are you a CBD marketing manager? However you plan on getting your message across, you're going to need a good strategy for marketing CBD.
However, you're not alone in marketing your business. We've compiled a list of our best tips and tricks for marketing CBD. From pen and paper plans to digital marketing, learn how to market CBD successfully and safely no matter where you operate your business.
Read on to learn all the best tips for marketing your CBD business and wellness products.
CBD Marketing Guidelines
When it comes to marketing CBD, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the organization "in charge". In essence, CBD companies are responsible for adapting their marketing strategies and business practices to meet the FDA guidelines.
While the FDA has a comprehensive webpage dedicated to the regulation of cannabis and cannabis-derived products, including CBD, we hope this article is a bit more user-friendly and can help you to navigate the challenges of marketing hemp and CBD.
It's sad, but some companies are making products that contain cannabis and CBD in ways that violate FDA guidelines. These companies make it harder for CBD companies trying to produce products with pure intentions. Luckily, there are still many things you can do to safely and appropriately market your cannabis and CBD-containing products.
CBD Marketing Companies
If you're worried about marketing CBD, you can always hire a CBD marketing agency or expand your marketing team. These agencies and teams should be more familiar with the regulatory pathways for lawfully marketing cannabis and cannabis-derived products while protecting health and consumer safety.
Selling products using false claims is a serious matter, and can put people at risk who don't understand how to use CBD properly for the potential benefits. While it can be frustrating, it's important to use information about CBD to educate consumers instead of influencing them one way or the other.
Our invitation to you is to join us in using lucid, transparent marketing strategies. The FDA is concerned about deceptive marketing, so we want to encourage you to be as upfront as possible about the potential benefits of cannabis and cannabis-containing products.
CBD Marketing Claims
There aren't many clear marketing CBD laws, but there are general regulations and past FDA warning letters that can let us know how to cautiously proceed.
When considering marketing claims, it's important to understand that the FDA sees CBD products as a "drug". Drugs that receive FDA approval are the only products allowed to make specific healthy claims.
In other words, it's important not to make specific claims about what CBD does for a person's health. Instead, here are three tips for safely marketing CBD.
Understand How A Health Claim Is Defined
Health claims pertain to any language that is used to define the relationship between a substance and its ability to reduce the risk of disease. It asserts that the product is intended to be used as a drug and, unfortunately, is often aimed at vulnerable populations.
Understand The FDA's Concerns
The FDA monitors the CBD industry very closely, even to the point that websites, links in blog articles, and social media accounts can be reported. It's important to use careful language when discussing the relationship between CBD and certain diseases or health disorders. Even links to evidence can be misconstrued as a claim, so it is better to err on the side of caution.
The FDA is "concerned that some people wrongly think that the myriad of CBD products on the market have been evaluated by the FDA and determined to be safe, or that using CBD 'can't hurt.'"
While CBD is recognized as relatively safe for most people, it is incredibly important to acknowledge the role of experts and clinicians in using CBD. Encouraging users and consumers to check with their physician about interactions and implications before use is an important part of including CBD as a potential part of the healing process.
Understand Your Personal Responsibility
Your personal responsibility is to make sure your marketing doesn't link CBD to:
- Disease or disease prevention (i.e. Heart disease, Anxiety, Chronic Pain)
- Diagnosis (i.e. PTSD, Diabetes)
- Mitigation (i.e. "lowers blood sugar", "provides heart benefits")
This is true of both packaging and digital materials. As a retailer, you'll primarily be dealing with digital media. The following section can help you figure out how to get your message across without crossing the line.
And, don't worry. If you're already feeling overwhelmed, we've created a free checklist that can fit on one page. It's a helpful resource to assist you in making sure your marketing materials are up to industry standards.
CBD Digital Marketing
In digital marketing, there are certain vulnerable populations to be extra careful about marketing CBD products to:
- Children (and unborn children)
- Pregnant or lactating women
- Elderly people
- Certain animal populations
Being careful with how cannabis and CBD are marketed online can help to close the information and education gap, both in regards to safety and where potential benefits are concerned.
As Lowell Schiller, JD (one of the principal professionals for policy) said in a 2019 Council for Responsible Nutrition Conference, "A consumer has a right to access supplements that are safe, that contain what the label says they contain". Misinformation, on a label or online, can become a public health problem.
Recent Developments In Marketing
The most recent development in marketing that you'll need to know about is the 2018 Farm Bill (The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, Pub. L. 115-334). It changed the way hemp and cannabis plant extracts could be produced and marketed. Hemp or any part of the plant includes:
- Cannabis sativa L.
- Hemp seeds
- Hemp derivatives
- Hemp extracts
- Salts or salts of isomers
- Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) less than 0.3% by dry weight
The most significant aspect of this bill is that it removed hemp from the controlled substances list under federal law. However, this bill didn't change much with how the FDA deals with cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds.
Schiller, quoted above, succinctly summarized the role of the FDA in regards to cannabis in his remarks at the National Industrial Hemp Council 2019 Hemp Business Summit (emphasis added):
"We don't hold a grudge against them, but we also don't hold them to a lower standard of safety or absolve them of other requirements. Consumers have a right to expect the same level of FDA protection with respect to hemp and derivatives like CBD as they would expect with respect to any other substance. "
While this doesn't remove all the challenges in talking about hemp and cannabis online, it was a big step in getting products out on the market and a big step forward for marketing.
To date, there aren't any approved marketing applications for cannabis that make it appropriate to link to any specific disease or condition. However, it is possible to spread positivity about cannabis and its potential effects without violating FDA regulations.
Tips For Marketing CBD Online
There are many opportunities to market CBD products online, including:
- Marketing CBD on Facebook
- Marketing CBD on Instagram
- CBD affiliate marketing,
- CBD email marketing campaign
- CBD influencer marketing
It's easy to get overwhelmed trying to navigate what you can and can't say about CBD online. Instead, here are three quick questions for online and social media. Use these to make sure your outreach aligns with the rules and regulations your business abides by.
Tip #1: Ask yourself, "Does this post comply with federal guidelines?"
As mentioned above, the FDA has rules about what you can say regarding CBD. Be intentional about the words you use to convey your message. Regardless of what state you live in, it's important to avoid using language that links CBD to any disease state or treatment.
Refer back to "three tips for safely marketing CBD" under the "CBD Marketing Claims" section above if you need more guidance on this topic.
Tip #2: Ask yourself, "What is unique about the state I do business in?"
Especially with online business, it is vitally important to understand state regulations. Greenstate has an interactive map that can tell you more about both state regulations and cannabis/CBD attitudes by state.
It's important to note that even if the state you practice business in has legalized CBD, you will also want to abide by the state's rules that your product is being used in. It's better to cover all your bases than to leave your business vulnerable.
Tip #3: Ask yourself, "What claims can I make about cannabis-containing products in my community?"
Getting to know your platform and the community you serve is essential to marketing CBD the best way possible. Some search engines and platforms restrict the word "hemp" while others aren't so strict. It may not seem fair, but we do have to play by their rules for the time being.
There are a few words that can help you safely navigate helpful CBD claims in almost any community. First, gauge the attitudes and interests of the members of your community towards cannabis-containing products and CBD.
Then, try including the following words in phrases about CBD to make them more "acceptable" to the audience and agencies you serve:
- May help to
These words help support a more ambiguous relationship between CBD and health while still conveying the benefits CBD might offer an individual.
The Bottom Line On Marketing CBD
It can easily seem complicated to market CBD, but our advice can be summed up in four words: step back and simplify. As long as you are considering the FDA's concerns, health claims you can and cannot make, and understanding your role and relationship with the consumer, you already have everything you need. Refer back to this post for quick tips and advice on marketing CBD.
Hahn SM. FDA Advances Work Related to Cannabidiol Products with Focus on Protecting Public Health, Providing Market Clarity. Fda.gov. Published March 5, 2020.
Lagano, Laura. The CBD Oil Miracle. Castle Point Books, 2019.