Have you heard of CBD? …Just kidding. Unless you’ve been stranded on an island for the last couple of years, we’re pretty confident that you’ve heard about CBD. It’s basically everywhere—in food, drinks, cosmetics, and even in pet treats! And if we’re to believe some of the forecasts, there is no slowing down for this industry – according to an estimate from cannabis industry analysts the Brightfield Group, the hemp-CBD market alone could hit $22 billion by 2022.
So while consumers and the media may have some amount of CBD fatigue, entrepreneurs and innovators are energized by all the progress and momentum in this space. We see new companies launching; new ideas incubating; and first-time entrepreneurs lining up to join the CBD rush, at a pace we’ve never seen before. While there is plenty of room to grow, the million-dollar question for entrepreneurs planning to launch new CBD brands today is—how to stand out in this extremely crowded marketplace?
Having worked with numerous companies from the ground up—right from inception to their launch, we’ve gathered the following insights on how brands can be distinct and stand out amongst other players:
1. Pick a niche
Too often we hear from new entrepreneurs that they want to capture the entire market! They have no idea who their target market/demographic is and they are eager to sell to everybody. But in the process of trying to appeal to everyone, brands often end up appealing to no one. This lack of focus has the opposite effect, as brands who don’t differentiate themselves in the market blend in with the thousands of other ‘blah’ brands. Instead, we advise companies to pick a target demographic and speak to them with a clear and loud voice. The brands that identify a specific need and offer a unique value proposition are the ones that do really well. One great example is Serene Jane, a community and product that unites women around the issue of perimenopause. Leveraging the direction derived from our brand strategy, Serene Jane was able to tap into the niche market of perimenopause (not to be mistaken as the much more well-known menopause.)
2. Invest in your brand strategy
This point goes hand-in-hand with the one above. A brand strategy helps companies frame their goals before going too far down the road. You may have a good engine, but if you don’t know where to point your boat, you’re not going to get to where you want. We like to start with any “raw material” clients have. Do they have a personal story that encourages them to pursue this dream? What is their philosophy on their offering? What are their vision, mission and values? The entrepreneurs who are willing to pour some heart into their brand’s strategy are most successful in crafting a brand story and creating a powerful and motivating foundation that not only attracts consumers, but also brand partners, media and investors in the long run.
3. Dive into data
After doing the soul-searching work to understand the core of a business, companies should dive into as much data as possible to refine their positioning. Analyzing a vast amount of data (whether it’s randomized studies, summarized data of purchasing habits or even anecdotal data) allows companies to understand consumer consumption habits, market trends, consumer pain points and areas of need, as well as purchasing behaviors—all of which can inform and guide a pre-launch company when it comes to market positioning, product development and innovation, advertising, sales and marketing. Without data, companies could be shooting in the dark for years.
4. Protect your brand
Last but not least, once you have built and launched your brand, don’t forget to protect its identity. Consider all the different elements that go into sharing your brand voice with the world – social media, public relations, events, and consumer-facing collateral. We’ve seen many entrepreneurs pour big dollars and huge amounts of time into launching their brand and then simply redirect focus on sales and distribution, accounting, and day-to-day operations. While those are all critical elements for a company to succeed, don’t lose sight of the fact that consumer loyalty and trust need to be nurtured throughout the company’s lifespan. If you don’t engage with your consumers in your own unique way, they will find another brand that does what you do.