February 27, 2021

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CBD 101



Cannabidoil, or CBD oil, has garnered a lot of attention in the gift and home industry over the last few years, popping up in bath and body products, candles, candy, mattresses (really) and more. While some consumers are enthusiastic about the product, others are uncertain because the ingredient comes from the cannabis plant, well known for its psychedelic effects.

According to the 2021 Gift Book Consumer Survey, 33 percent of consumers are somewhat or extremely likely to purchase CBD products for personal use, and 28 percent are somewhat or extremely likely to purchase CBD products as a gift. Among those surveyed, Millennials are the most likely to purchase at 26 percent, followed by Generation X at 17 percent and Baby Boomers at 13 percent.

Passionate users claim benefits that almost sound miraculous, from chronic pain relief to better sleep, reduced anxiety, mood elevation, diminished acne, lowered blood pressure and much more. And with so many products on the market, there can be a lot of confusion on which is the best medium and potency to achieve the results consumers are looking for.

For those customers who are hesitant to purchase, a little clarification goes a long way. Here is a breakdown of the science behind the ingredient that might be helpful in selling products containing CBD.

CBD Chemistry

The science behind CBD and the study of how it affects the body is relatively new, with the first discovery of the endocannabinoid system of the human body in the late 1980s. Since that discovery, more is being tested and studied every day about the ingredient and how it affects users differently. Dr. Hal Simeroth, formulator for CBD skincare company Mantra Mask, said: “Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a natural complex of phytochemical compounds found in the common Hemp plant (botanical name – Cannabis Sativa).  It has no narcotic effect and is rich in nutritional compounds that greatly contribute to skin health.  These active compounds are referred to as flavonoids, terpenoids and phytocannabinoids.”

Roughly 20 different flavonoid compounds are found in full-spectrum CBD made from the whole plant, Dr. Simeroth explained. “Laboratory studies have shown flavonoids to have excellent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Green tea, cocoa and some berries also have good flavonoid content.”

Terpenoids are the essential oils that occur naturally in plants, trees and flowers.  There are more than 200 terpenoids found in the Hemp plant. They provide excellent anti-inflammatory properties for the skin, reducing redness, irritation and common skin problems.

“If you combine classic skin-supporting ingredients with CBD, which calms your system down at an even deeper level, the skin relief product is that much more powerful.” —Jason Kasten, Green Roads

Phytocannabinoids, Dr. Simeroth continued, are found almost exclusively in the Cannabis plant. “Cannabinoids are found naturally in both plants and animals. Our body produces them (endocannabinoids) to promote balance (homeostasis) within our bodily system functions … Using the phytocannabinoids from the Hemp plant to supplement our own endocannabinoid production has been shown to be effective.”

Jason Kasten of Cannabis Business Awards-winning CBD company Green Roads added, “If you combine classic skin-supporting ingredients with CBD, which calms your system down at an even deeper level, the skin relief product is that much more powerful.” Green Roads, represented by Ivystone, offers products from relief creams and bath bombs to essential oils, gummies, tinctures (concentrated herbal extracts) for pets and tea and coffee, all made with American-farmed Hemp.

Seed2System is another CBD company focused on topicals and ingestibles. They sell bath and body products including soaps, salts, creams, sugar scrubs, beard oils and even deodorant, plus gummies, honey sticks, gel capsules and more. Christy Thiel, director of education and partner relations for Seed2System, also touted the anti-inflammatory properties. “CBD works on every layer of this skin. It’s corrective, supports the collagen matrix, anti-inflammatory properties, even the immune receptors that are on the skin. The skin has receptors for CBD and can support wound healing from injuries, procedures and traumas. Skin is the biggest organ and CBD’s benefits are well known and a joy to experience.”

What to Look For

CBD has become a buzz acronym, which means the market is now almost flooded with options. But as many vendors will tell you, not all CBD is created equal, and it can be hard to know beyond the packaging which is a quality, effective product and which is relying on the placebo effect.

First, consumers will want to pay attention to the “spectrum” of the Hemp product, which denotes whether the product simply uses CBD or includes other beneficial compounds from the Hemp plant. There are three spectrums: Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum and Isolate. Broad Spectrum is CBD enhanced by natural Hemp compounds with additional beneficial properties and contains less than 0.0 mg THC, the psychoactive ingredient of the plant. Full Spectrum is CBD enhanced by natural Hemp compounds with additional beneficial properties, but the difference is that it can contain up to .3 percent THC, which is the legal limit. Isolate is the purest form of CBD, with no additional beneficial Hemp compounds, with absolutely no trace of THC. One is not necessarily better than another, but the average consumer and CBD novice might not know the difference and will want to be educated.

Skincare company FarmHouse Fresh has been incorporating CBD into their product lines for roughly a year and a half after doing extensive research, testing and scouting for a quality, consistent ingredient supplier. In March 2019, it launched a CBD line called Hi-Bio Hemp Total Swellness, which uses Broad Spectrum CBD. The company prides itself on ingredients grown with no pesticides and the effort made to encapsulate the extracts so they absorb faster, bring the consumer benefits faster. “Quality, verification and consistency are the cornerstones of delivering health benefits through total Hemp plant-derived skincare,” said Delia McLinden, VP of sales and business development for the company.

“All CBD products, regardless of their use, can sometimes share shelves with sub-par options,” Kasten said. “A high-quality CBD skin cream starts with responsible sourcing from American Hemp plants with certificates of analysis. You can be more confident if the topical in question is pharmacist formulated. Both the ingredients and the whole, finished product should be tested for quality by an independent laboratory.”

Jennifer Culpepper, co-founder of CBD bath-and-body company I+I Botanicals, also stressed the importance of lab-tested products. “Transparency in lab testing is important in identifying quality CBD in any product, which is why we share third-party lab tests on all our products.” I+I Botanicals offers myriad bath and body products, including bath teas in relaxing scents such as lavender and eucalyptus; exfoliating CBD coffee body scrub made with Ethiopian coffee, aloe vera juice and Irish moss seaweed; and face serum with prickly pear oil, vitamin b5 and hyaluronic acid, with each product containing lab-tested CBD.

The way in which the CBD is extracted from the plant is also something of concern. Extract Labs, a CBD company four years running, offers tinctures, edibles, topicals, bath bombs and more, using high-potency Full Spectrum CBD with organic ingredients. Grant Rogers, digital marketing manager for Extract Labs, explained, “Many products out there are extracted using ethanol, which is abrasive and yields a darker, harsher oil. CO2-extracted CBD is much lighter in color and will typically not carry a super earthy scent to it, which can be undesirable when using CBD topically. Also, watch out for products that are just using CBD as a buzzword to make a sale. There are creams and lotions out there which only contain around 100mg of CBD or so. This is usually not enough to make any sort of difference in the effectiveness of a product.”

Tips for Selling CBD

In the gift industry, it has long been encouraged to offer testers to boost bath-and-body and skincare sales, however the COVID-19 pandemic this year might have changed this sales method for the foreseeable future. Even beauty retail giants such as Sephora and Ulta have pulled all testers from their stores, instead offering virtual try-ons through their respective apps, as well as offering more relaxed return policies, if only temporarily.

In the bath-and-body gift category, consumers are interested in alleviating pain and relaxing. Among those surveyed for the 2021 Gift Book Consumer Survey who said they would be likely to purchase CBD products, pain relief creams were their No. 1 CBD product of interest, at 65 percent likely to purchase, followed by gummies, (58 percent), hand lotions (42 percent), chocolates (40 percent) and lip balms (35 percent).

To sell these items, “education is key,” Culpepper said. “Many have misconceptions of what it is and what it does — or doesn’t do. When we work with retail partners, we provide them with information and training videos so they can best explain to their customers the benefits of CBD. We also provide educational information about our ingredients and what they do on packaging and website to empower consumers with knowledge.”

Kasten agreed that education is important, noting that Green Roads provides retailers with materials to help sell the product. “A good CBD company supports its retailers with collateral like educational tabletop mats, brochures and even videos. These can help the retailer become a resource for customers,” he said.

But spare casual customers the science of the endocannabinoid system. Educating customers doesn’t have to feel like a lecture. “For us, it is just a matter of passing along what benefits CBD may provide and add to their mental rolodex of what product ingredients can translate into,” Rogers said. “If a product contains lavender, it will probably be relaxing. If it contains Shea butter, you know it will be moisturizing. If it contains CBD, it is meant to reduce inflammation and/or help with pain.  It can also be helpful to point to CBD as a natural way to provide relief from certain conditions without all the artificial things that come with common over-the-counter remedies. More and more consumers want natural, organic products.”

McLinden added, “Because the buzzy world of CBD is so widespread and varies greatly, it can be confusing. It’s important for retailers and customers to understand that, with the passing of the 2018 Congressional Farm Bill, Hemp was legalized in all 50 states of the U.S. as long as it contains less than 0.3 percent THC. This includes CBD, provided it is derived from Hemp, as federally legal in the U.S.  No, it is impossible to get ‘high’ by topically applying CBD extracted from industrial hemp plants. There are no psychoactive effects. Skincare using CBD is completely safe and natural.”

While it is advised to educate yourself and your staff on the benefits of CBD to help your customers select the products that are right for them, there is a good chance that if they are looking for it, they have already done the research themselves. “I think CBD is creating its own name and reputation, said Kim Wellen, founder of Mantra Mask. “Consumers are getting savvy about CBD and are on their own personal journeys.”



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