Rewind two or three years and CBD wasn’t even on the radar of the UK retail sector; now it’s a £300m industry. To date over 6 million adults have put CBD to the test and the industry shows no signs of slowing down. Given the size of the market in the UK, what do retailers need to know to take advantage of the rapid growth in this sector?
CBD – or Cannabidiol – is a naturally occurring extract derived from the Hemp plant, cultivated for industrial use, containing less than 0.2 percent THC. Unlike THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis responsible for its recreational high, CBD has no psychoactive effect and can be legally sold in the UK as long as its THC content is below 0.01 percent for a 10ml CBD product. Goodbody Botanicals’ range is THC free (tested to less than 0.01% THC).
CBD as a standalone product is somewhat unregulated. Manufacturers operate within the guidelines of the Food Standards Agency and act with their best approach with regards to safety, compliance and efficacy.
The Home Office also has guidelines regarding the controlled elements of the Cannabis plant (THC) which must not be detected in products. However reputable CBD brands put their products through a rigorous, specialist CBD testing facility like PhytoVista Laboratories.
The MHRA has put strict guidance in place to avoid CBD wellness manufacturers making medical claims. CBD is currently classified as a ‘food supplement’.
Taking the confusion out of CBD
Consumers tell us they are confused about many aspects of CBD, so a product range that is easy to understand, with clear labelling is incredibly important.
Goodbody Botanicals conducted focus groups which established that clear, consumer-friendly labelling was vital for consumers to be able to identify the different strengths of product available and the best usage for every individual. We also have QR codes on all of our packaging so that consumers can easily access test certificates from the laboratory for additional peace of mind.
Education is really important for the sector as there is still a lack of awareness and understanding amongst consumers. However quality and trust are the two most important factors when selecting a CBD brand.
Categories driving growth
Oils, soft gels and balm are the clear formats of consumer choice (in that order). Oil is by far the most popular format and is believed to be the most effective way to take CBD. Oils come in various strengths and as each consumer will have differing requirements and budget, it’s important that retailers stock a range of various strength products. Taste is also important and our oils have gone through a taste test profiling exercise to produce a pleasant and well received flavour.
Many consumers like the ease of taking CBD in a soft gel format so this is also worth including in any range, and many wish to apply a CBD balm directly to their skin.
How will the UK CBD category reach its full potential?
Awareness, education and trust will all allow significant growth of the CBD category. Adjustments to the product classification of CBD, and the demise of poor quality brands, will also make a considerable positive impact.
Products containing CBD will inevitably increase in demand so the initial key factor in driving their success is for retailers to stock the category. However, research from the CMC has shown a wide variance in the accuracy of product offering amongst many brands. It is therefore vital that retailers stock a trusted and fully laboratory tested brand so that both they, and their customers, understand exactly what is in each product.
Positioning and promotion instore
Consumers need to be aware that the retailer stocks CBD so clear signage and messaging to show that products are available is a must. Positioning should be in a good location where products are clearly visible – we have seen the best results achieved though counter unit displays. However we also offer solutions like gondola ends, digital boards, hanging posters, shelf wobblers and barkers depending on the retail environment.
Consumers have clearly told us they require more information and education so displaying materials such as Goodbody Botanicals’ “Guide to CBD” will help customers with any questions. The most important consideration for any retailer is to partner with a reputable brand with products that are fully supported by laboratory test results, with clear and consumer friendly packaging and which offer support in terms of POS material.
Future potential for retailers
It seems inevitable that CBD containing products are going to be a significant category with the UK health and wellbeing market. As this market grows consumers will expect to see this category widely stocked across all types of retailer. It is highly likely that in the future, products containing CBD will sit alongside many leading over the counter medicines and food supplements as standard in the retail channel.
The CBD category will become more and more normalised over time and a must-have for any buyer’s portfolio.
Investing in medical research is a key way to pave the way for future growth whilst also providing a body of evidence. Having been awarded a Home Office controlled drug to grow medicinal cannabis last year, Sativa Group Plc is currently working with King’s College London on an exciting project to research the impact of cannabinoids on inflammation using respiratory models. Sativa will supply the university with specific strains of cannabis plants that contain various combinations of the spectrum of at least 113 known cannabinoids.
With the UK catching up fast in terms of recognising the benefits of medicinal cannabis, in-country research from the globally-recognised King’s College will assist the medical profession, Government and Regulators in their deliberations.
By George Thomas of Goodbody Botanicals, part of Sativa Group