In the Spring of 2013 during a retail industry presentation titled, “Satisfying Tobacco & OTP Shopper Needs,” I asked the audience about the potential of the cannabis offering at convenience retail. At the time, many just dismissed the thought — but some believed in my predictions.
Over the last eight years, the CBD/hemp offering has landed at retail with varying results. Some retailers jumped in feet-first, some dabbled in the space, others took a wait-and-see approach, and some today still have not entered the market.
I have worked with each of those groups, as well as many manufacturers and distributors. The variety of products offered is wide. The efficacy of some of the products is questionable. Consumers have their preferences. Without reservation, the gummies are preferred in the convenience store channel. (My personal experience with gummies is that I can’t eat just one!)
I have a passion for new-age alternatives and find it exciting to always market what is new. I’ve also had the privilege of working with several distributors over the past eight years. At one distributor, I helped develop a ‘new-age alternative’ offering that was received extremely well.
Overall, in my extensive travels, there is much I have observed and learned. To start, here are a few negative observations I’ve made related to the CBD/hemp offering in the convenience store channel:
- No home/no designated space
- Widespread out-of-stocks
- Poor point of sale (lack of clear call-out of pricing)
- Lack of a well-rounded offering
- Lack of education/platform to educate the curious
The CBD/hemp offering has been seriously hindered by recent conditions due to the pandemic. But I believe the convenience channel has an opportunity to capture its portion of the market.
As I sit at my desk with a variety of products from a variety of manufactures, I’d like to make suggestions to assist retailers, no matter where they presently sit in the space. My goal is to provide insight to use as a checkpoint. Direction is always a key to navigation.
The need for proper category management begs for vision, direction, goals, execution, results and evaluation. Here are some key points for selling CBD and hemp products:
- Do research on the offering. I always believe in cross-checking the info provided.
- Check out the competition — whether it’s the good, the bad or the ugly.
- Develop a plan as you develop a destination for your offering. ”If you build it, they will come.”
- Give the offering the space that it deserves in your plan. Give it a home.
- Maximize the offer with a proper segmentation that provides the best products in a c-store.
- Give the consumer the best deal. Make sure you communicate the offer clearly.
- Work directly with manufacturers.
- Eliminate the out-of-stocks and over-stocks with a product replenishment system.
- Personalize your plan — uniqueness is key. (What’s your spin?)
- Develop tools to educate the consumer and your staff.
- Excite the crew!
Managing the category will have many challenges. Managing the category properly will have many rewards. Happy sales!
Lou Maiellano is the president of Sevierville, Tenn.-based TAZ Marketing & Consulting Group, which helps clients improve their competitive advantage and profitability through executable marketing solutions, specializing in the tobacco industry. You can reach Lou at [email protected] or (865) 366-7549.