Cannabidiol (CBD) is making its way into just about everything lately—lattes, cocktails, lotions, mists, supplements, oils, extracts, and so much more. The public is embracing CBD and its benefits as retailers are watching to see how the emerging industry will impact the future of shopping.
Today’s “canna big bang” is the beginning of a new era for product innovation, and it’s trailblazing a new narrative for the cannabis industry and cannabis retail. Pairing new uses for CBD with compelling brand experiences will shift how we approach more than cannabis, with the hospitality and retail industries watching intently.
Supplementing for Wellness
The vitamin, supplement, and personal care industries were some of the first to fully embrace the medicinal benefits of CBD. In 2018, 44% of the conversations around CBD were focused on using it for its medicinal qualities— and today, those conversations are becoming reality.
For example, the CBD Lounge in Covington, Ky., curates experiences fueled by CBD and offers one-on-one consultations to find the best personalized CBD personal care products for clients. This approach is about more than educating the community; it’s also helping rebuild the narrative around the medicinal benefits of cannabis. Similarly, modern skincare and supplement lines, such as MOOD, have integrated CBD into just about every product, professing its many benefits and applications. Brands like Mender have developed a full body care lineup of CBD-infused products including deodorant, lip balm, body cream, and more.
To accommodate different consumer preferences, brands are getting creative in how they use CBD. Recent research has found strong evidence that CBD can be used as a sleep aid and for stress and anxiety reduction. Pain relief lotions claim CBD is an anti-inflammatory, whereas pillow mists capitalize on its calming, anxiety-reducing qualities. Oils and oral supplements are said to combat issues with intimacy, and creams and lotions alleviate skin conditions such as psoriasis. Some CBD supplements are said even to slow aging!
Given that the cannabis industry is still relatively new, there’s a gap between hard evidence of its true effects and product claims. However, many CBD brands include complementary ingredients in their products that are proven to deliver a solution. For example, many CBD pillow mists include lavender and chamomile, which are known to have calming, sleep-inducing qualities. This approach has helped brands collaborate, ultimately creating a gateway for CBD products into retail spaces.
Looking into the future of supplements and skincare, we’re seeing a new take on products through self-mixing of independent CBD oils like Exhale, and individual CBD supplements such as Sunsoil vegan CBD capsules. Influencers are using it topically or mixing it into products to pursue positive results. This opens the door to more discoveries regarding the benefits of CBD and the growth of this deeply personalized approach to skincare and supplements.
CBD lounges and bars are gaining popularity as places to relax or socialize. Entrepreneurs are finding ways to offer full CBD experiences through more than just stores.
In Cleveland, Tiger Lily at Electric Gardens entered the scene last year serving up CBD cocktails and organic wines in a beautiful atmosphere. Cocktails can be made virgin with CBD to provide a relaxing experience without the risk of a rough morning following. This concept is also engaging a growing market of alcohol-free guests.
Many CBD lounges are incorporating more into their spaces than a bar. The Summit Lounge in Worcester, Mass. hosts cannabis tastings, live music, and paint and video game nights giving people more reasons to visit these new destinations.
It’s only a matter of time until craft brews and alcohol-free spirits centered on CBD will dominate the market. Coffee shops, like CBD (Coffee Brewed Differently) in Phoenix, Ariz., is in on the fun, offering CBD-infused lattes and drinks, and even selling individual CBD capsules.
CBD culture is in its inception and yet we expect tourism surrounding it to explode as these destination experiences grow. International cannabis tourism is already starting to expand with residents in cannabis-restricted countries visiting green countries to partake in canna-culture. That same enthusiasm and interest, met with physical and cultural experiences, will move mountains for the cannabis industry, of which CBD is a part.
A New Kind of Retail Experience
CBD products are deserving of unique shopping and brand-interactive experiences. Having very few industry predecessors (aside from hemp) gives CBD and cannabis companies the chance to blow the top off the typical retail experience. There is a stigma and sense of distrust of cannabis products due to decades of marketing and campaigning against marijuana. However, the experiential factor the industry is bringing to consumers is breaking down barriers and changing hearts and minds surrounding cannabis.
We’re watching the cannabis industry embrace hyper-niche, localized branding and store environments that are changing how we expect our retail spaces to feel and operate. Toronto dispensaries, such as Superette and Alchemy, are winning the game with their detailed approach to brand that penetrates everything from packaging, store design, and even merchandising a diverse mix of unrelated products that speak to its soul. Both brands perfectly demonstrate the boundless freedom cannabis brands are willing to experiment with—from Superette’s whimsical, bold pop-art supermarket aisles to the opposite high-end, luxurious, avant-garde showrooms of Alchemy.
The cannabis industry is actively putting design at the forefront of their guest experience as it provides perfectly curated brand interactions. Consumers can wake up and choose a store based on how they want to feel or what they want to experience that day, knowing they’ll get great products at both. This hyper-niche, design-forward thinking will start to bleed into other industries as consumers expect personalization more than ever before.
The interesting, beautiful, and hyper-specific experiences these new stores offer give the chance for fun and playful interaction with their brands and products. If niche, aesthetic experiences are growing more important to consumers, think of the countless retail spaces we interact with that will change as a result. CBD and cannabis brands have opened the gateway to immersive retail experiences and interaction, and it’s only a matter of time before we see the ripples these companies will cause in other industries.