On Thursday, CStore Decisions hosted a CBD-focused webinar for convenience retailers, “Success in CBD: What C-Stores Need to Know,” featuring E-Alternative Solutions (EAS) Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer Chris Howard and Director of Trade Marketing Mike Sullivan, as well as Brad Campbell, category leader of tobacco & CBD for Altoona, Pa.-based c-store chain Sheetz.
CStore Decisions Editor-in-Chief and National Advisory Group (NAG) Executive Director John Lofstock moderated the webinar, which covered everything c-store retailers need to know about this rapidly growing category, including regulation, the state of the industry and determining the right CBD partners and products for your c-store.
EAS’ Howard started off with an overview of CBD industry regulation to date, from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Ultimately, he said the FDA hasn’t taken significant action with regards to implementing a “regulatory scheme” as of yet.
“I often say that I think it will look a lot like the regulatory scheme currently in place for e-cigarettes,” he said.
Eventually, he said, the market will be cleared of the bad products and companies, leaving only “sophisticated offerings” available for consumers. Until then, retailers are wise to keep an eye out for CBD brand red flags, including a lack of appropriate testing or certificates of analysis.
Later, Sheetz’s Campbell gave a retailer’s perspective on choosing the right CBD manufacturers to work with and identifying the best products for c-store customers.
Campbell advised other retailers to avoid brands that make health claims and instead seek out those that are forward-thinking.
“You want to make sure that you’re paying attention to what’s popular now and what will be popular in the future,” he said, pointing to emerging trends like other cannabinoids (for example, CBG or CBN) and combining CBD and other cannabinoids with functional ingredients like ginseng.
It’s important to keep price in mind, too.
“In c-stores, consumers are much more apt to pick up a product that’s more in line with what they expect to see in a c-store,” Campbell said. ” … Where do you need to land in terms of milligram strength and price point to bring value to your consumers?”
Finally, he advised retailers to pay attention to packaging and consider brand recognition.
“As the category evolves, consumers will look for brands that they’re comfortable with and that they may be seeing at multiple retail outlets,” he said. “(But) it will take time to build that brand equity. … Trial is very important at the beginning of any new category, especially one like this.”
The presentations were followed by a Q&A session.
Mark your calendars for the five-part NAG leadership series, starting May 19.