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CBD has made a huge splash in the market recently, with sales expected to reach over $800 million this year alone. But with a newer marketplace comes a lack of consumer understanding around the products and marketing challenges for CBD consumer packaged goods companies.

Our team, led by Anthony Bratti, Western Region President & Head of National Cannabis Industry for USA TODAY NETWORK, understands the unique challenges that come from marketing a CBD brand. He and his team work firsthand with CBD businesses to help them reach the right audience in the right ways. And, with a CBD marketing study about to be released that goes into detail about who’s using CBD, what makes them unique, and the best ways to connect with them, we wanted to get more information from Anthony about the study, what it’s like working with CBD brands, and some teasers.

Let’s dive right in. Why did USA TODAY NETWORK | LOCALiQ want to conduct the CBD study?

We initially conducted a cannabis study, and as we were planning for that study, cannabis and CBD were really merged. However, over the last 12 months, as CBD has exploded onto the market, it’s really evolved into its own direct-to-consumer marketing brand, so we recognized a need for information that could help us set it apart from cannabis marketing. And then at the same time, CBD is not like other consumer products. There’s regulation around CBD and around what CBD businesses can and can’t do for advertising. We wanted to gather data to help these businesses understand who to target and how to attract them, so we used our unique position to do so.

Tell me a little about the study itself?

So, one, it’s the largest CBD study ever conducted in the U.S. We’re excited about that and about what that means for the data we were able to collect. Two, the findings from the study enable us to be able to understand the buyer’s journey based on their demographics and where they are relative to education and use of the products as they come out into market.

There are so many different types of CBD right now. There’s the CBD oils and edibles, then there’s makeup, there are pet products, and more. And each of these types of CBD products have their own target audiences and ways they should be reaching those audiences. This study allows us to understand those people and better equip our CBD clients to reach them.

It sounds like there are a lot of opportunities when it comes to marketing CBD right now.

Yes, so many opportunities. There are opportunities to break into the different product lines I outlined, connect with your audience, and really stand out in those spaces.

But, right now, there’s still regulation around what you can and cannot advertise ““ whether it’s on social media networks, search engines, and more. So, the opportunities are around finding the best way to deliver an effective message that educates people on CBD ““ what it is, how it works, the different options.

For example, we’re working with a brand that has CBD makeup. I had no idea there was a makeup line that incorporated CBD and all the benefits that come with that. And I know a lot of other people are the same way. So, we can create awareness and education around this product line for this brand, which will bring in new customers.

Another thing is educating on what your brand is doing to stand out or go above and beyond. The CBD brands we work with do a lot of independent testing done beyond the regular product testing, and that’s something we found that consumers are interested in. You can get CBD at pretty much any grocery store or Amazon right now, and there’s not really any regulation. So, by getting independent testing done and further verifying you have a trusted product, you can attract consumers and set yourself apart in a crowded marketplace.

You briefly mentioned the benefits of CBD ““ what are some of the misconceptions around CBD?

Consumers are very new to CBD ““ they want to know is it legal or is it illegal? It is cannabis or is it not? So, that’s always the first question: is it legal. Second, they want to know if it’s legal everywhere. Can they take it on a plane?

And then beyond that, they truly don’t understand the true health benefits.

So, going back to opportunity ““ this is the chance for brands to tell their story and communicate the clear benefits. I think the key with CBD marketing is education because consumers aren’t sure what CBD can do. They don’t know how to buy it and what to buy it for.

Once brands provide that education, there’s a chance to build their brand and really hone in on the audiences they want to target.

That’s one of the reasons I’m excited about this study. We really outline the audiences that are using CBD and the best ways to reach them.

Speaking of the study, what teasers can you give us?

So, we had over 10,000 respondents, and over 20% of respondents said they saw a significant reduction in alcohol use once they started using CBD. The eye-opening data that came from this study is pretty amazing, not only to help us better hone in on marketing strategies for our clients ““ but also to help our clients get the word out there on the positive impact CBD is having on the lives of the consumers across the country. We also examined consumer behavior as it relates to what consumers think about CBD in a traditional retail space, how to drive trial, brand loyalty, and ultimately basket size. Last but not least ““ we have found that each CBD brand has its own unique attributes and appeal to different consumer groups. Because of that, we took a more granular approach with how we looked at audience segmentation so we could assist our partners with creating brand strategies that make them stand out in a crowded marketplace. And that’s the power of the USA TODAY NETWORK’s network of consumers coupled with our data and intelligence capabilities.

I think this study allows us to see a direct result of our data and intelligence in how we deliver marketing solutions for our partners. That’s the most important thing for me.

What advice do you have to CBD brands looking to market themselves?

Number one: Determine what your brand’s unique value in the CBD Marketplace and who that value appeals to. Two: Make sure you have a full understanding of your audience’s journey and barriers to entry. What’s keeping them from maybe buying from you in the first place? How much do they know about CBD in general, your specific product, and your brand. Three: Start small. You can start with a trial and develop brand loyalty from there. Four: We know that success doesn’t happen overnight, so it’s important to be patient. Five: Measure and refine your strategy.

How can people find out more about this report?

We’d love to share it with them. Just email Jennifer Metzger at [email protected], and one of our experts will get back with you.

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