Retail Trend Watch:
There’s a new retail trend in town. It’s no organic bone broth or trendy ghost pepper potato chip. It’s CBD (Cannabidiol), and it’s had a long journey to the shelves.
To follow this controversial product’s path to retail victory, we’ll have to look at the source of CBD, which is usually the hemp flower. While hemp and marijuana are often perceived as one and the same, they are actually two different plants entirely. Since hemp has remarkably low levels of the psychoactive substance THC, using it won’t exactly give you the munchies.
2014 Farm Bill
Because of their diminished psychoactive effects, non-viable hemp materials were legalized by the 2014 Farm Bill, as long as they held .3% or lower of THC. So, CBD oil became an approved substance to create, sell, and consume—but only within state borders.
The real legislative kicker came just last year, in 2018, when the White House administration made CBD oil eligible for interstate commerce. As the iron doors around cannabis products swung wide open to the free market, multi-level marketing businesses peddling CBD products hit the ground running and, behind the scenes, some of our most beloved retailers started planning.
Coming to a Store Near You
Just one month ago, CVS announced that in 800 of their 9,800 locations, they’d be selling CBD products as an alternative wellness option. Soon after, CVS’s competitors Walgreen’s and Rite-Aid went public with the same information, eager to remain neck-and-neck with one another. Then, health store The Vitamin Shoppe began offering CBD soft gels, and shared their plans to incorporate more strains of the hemp-derivative, including oils and topical creams.
As of right now, it looks like big box retailers Walmart and Target are on the fence when it comes to distributing hemp derivatives. Amazon has been staunchly against it for a while now, and even prohibits their private vendors from selling the stuff. Just one year ago, however, the product couldn’t even be shipped over state lines. We suspect the big box retailers won’t be far behind once they’ve missed out on a bit of revenue.
New Product Category
For Customer Impact, CBD’s entrance into pharmacy and health chains means an entirely new industry is learning how to merchandise their products in a traditional retail environment. Usually, this would be no big deal. However, with the winds of hemp hostility whipping around them, CBD product manufacturers have an extra force against them as they attempt to market themselves to a more diverse buyer demographic. Despite the negative outlook, we’ll still be watching the horizon for CBD announcements from big box retailers. Where there’s a CVS, there’s a Walgreen’s, and where there’s a Walgreen’s, there’s a Safeway, and where there’s a Safeway, there’s a Wal-Mart. You get the picture.