CBD Retail Trends recently chatted with Casey Taylor, vice president of client development for market research firm CivicScience, about growing opportunities and strategies for brick-and-mortar retailers looking to join the CBD marketplace. Below are five topics excerpted from that conversation.
CBD Retail Trends: Can you give us an idea if a smaller retailer is trying to get into CBD and what is your take on the market and what can somebody like that … what kind of products can they find and that will appeal to their customers?
Casey Taylor: So I think really relevant thing to think about it, if you’re a c-store, is where are you putting the product? How are you positioning it? It’s not about getting high. It’s not about inebriation. It’s about health. It’s about to the extent that the effects are helpful, to the extent that users believe in the effects, they’re going back to it because it’s calming them down.
If you’re carrying vitamins, and they’re behind the counter – because it’s an expensive, a bigger ticket item that you don’t necessarily want out and at risk of theft – maybe that’s where you should be putting it instead of next to the Marlboros and the Camels, right? That’s kind of how I would think about it.
CBDRT: Now we’ve got topicals, we’ve got the edibles … CBD is branching out, depending upon what the delivery system is or delivery product is, to other folks who are maybe older, who are looking to get some relief for achy joints and muscles, some athletic folks who are looking for the same thing. … Do you have any insight on all those different products and how that kind of shakes out for a smaller retailer?
CT: It’s going to depend on what you’re selling. If behind the counter, all you have are cigarettes, it’s probably not going to make much sense, right? … But if behind the counter you have … cigarettes on one end, and on the other end you have your family planning stuff or your vitamins and Advil and ibuprofen that you don’t necessarily have out in the aisles, it might make a lot of sense to have those types of things there.
I mean, as our culture more broadly accepts it as something that you can use aid something: For your anxiety, for PTSD, for actually neurological symptoms and the research that’s been done there, right?
It becomes a lot less taboo and it becomes something that’s embraced by … it’s like yoga moms, right? And people that are like, “Oh, this helps me sleep.” It’s a much different profile of consumer, which means you have to think about it much differently than how you would have.
Focus on Your Customer Base
CBDRT: And do you think in those states where they do have cannabis outlets, right away when you think CBD, you’re going to equate it with the dispensary, there might be an opportunity there for smaller retailers to provide more of a comfort level for some of those folks who are a bit reticent of going to a dispensary?
CT: There’s less stigma right around … there’s no stigma around walking in a convenience store, right? You go in and you get something. Now, I mean, I would say on the other end of things, and this is kind of at the, this would be at the discretion of the c-store owner operator, or in terms of their comfort level. But when you go into a dispensary in Colorado or something, there’s also such a diverse array of products that people tell you exactly what they’re going to do for you, right? This will do this to you. This will do this, this’ll do this.
I think the differences, while it may be a more comfortable environment for some people if they’re there for other things or if they don’t want to hold up a line or something like that, it’s like, can your cashiers actually talk through the difference between individually CBD products?
Educate Your CBD Customers
CBDRT: There are retailers who they are approaching it that way. They understand that. And they either have some of their personnel trained to know the CBD products that they are carrying … or they have literature that you can just pick up off the counter. So you can kind of study up on it on your own, go to their own website, things of that nature. And then you’ll feel a little more comfortable and you’ll be able to make that choice the next time you go; it’ll be just a little bit easier and a little more comfortable for the customer, too.
CT: I don’t think it could hurt. And in fact, I would say that if you’re serious about it, that’s going to become more and more the consumer expectation of things in that category.
It’s just how now it’s running with that craft beer analogy. I mean, I’m only 34 years old. I’m not that old yet, but I can remember the difference between going to a bar when I was 21 versus now when there were five beers on tap, and if you asked a question about one of the local ones, the bartender looked at you like you were insane.
Whereas now it’s like every bar has 30 beers on tap and can describe, every bartender or waiter or waitress, can describe the difference between each beer. “Oh, this one’s more of a piney IPA versus a citrusy one.” And it’s just I think that it becomes a trend that’s niche. And then as it’s niche and it catches on, it becomes (for the customer) like, “Wait, if you don’t do that for me, why am I here? I should be somewhere else.”
Learn From Specialty Shops
CBDRT: Do you have any insight on those smaller CBD specialty retailer shops. Because it’s a different kind of environment, different kinds of shopping – it could mean there is opportunity for mainstream retailers, c-stores and things of that nature, to offer the other CBD products that the older demographics are looking for, but also millennials, as well?
CT: To me, the opportunity there is those places may be boutique and they may have a different type of clientele, but because of that, they’re going to know what’s popular and what’s hip before everyone else. And so it’s probably not a bad idea to be checking in, even as a secret shopper, to see what do they’ve got, right? Because I think the opportunity there, the advantage that convenience stores have on that type of retailer, is that you offer everything else.
Someone’s going to stop for gas and they might be a specialty boutique store consumer of CBD. But, hey, if you have the product they like when they’re out of a pod and they just came in because they’re paying for 20 bucks on pump four and they see the product they want, you’ve increased the odds that you’re going to make that sale, right?
So trying to align with what is being offered at those stores, isn’t a bad idea. I just don’t necessarily think the consumer expectation is the same. And the consistency of the consumer profile is different enough that I wouldn’t view yourself as competing with them directly. Or if you are going to get into this space, you probably want to know what they’re doing because they’re going to know better than you, because that’s all they have to focus on.
To access the full podcast conversation with CivicScience Vice President of Client Development Casey Taylor and CStore Decisions Senior Editor Thomas Mulloy, visit https://www.cbdretailtrends.com/podcast-cbd-strategies-outlook-for-retail-stores/.