Cannabidiol (CBD) oil-based supplements and treats for both cats and dogs continue to grow in popularity as more pet owners begin to recognize their potential benefits. Despite the fact that it’s still a relatively new category, there already are a lot of options, and shoppers might need quite a bit of assistance in choosing what’s best for their pet.
Herbal alternatives in general continue to grow in demand as consumers become more knowledgeable, aware and discerning, said Lorin Grow, owner of Furry Face in Redlands, Calif.
“At SuperZoo in 2016, there were only a few booths exhibiting CBD products,” Grow said. “In 2017, it was a flood of new CBD exhibitors. And I expect even more next year.”
Chelsea Joyce, for Pet Releaf in Englewood, Colo., said that the driving interest in CBD products comes at a time when pet owners and retailers are starting to recognize that pharmaceutical drugs can sometimes be harmful or even make a pet’s health issue worse due to side effects. As medical cannabis has become increasingly acceptable, people are beginning to understand it might also be a positive option for their pets, she said.
“Consumers are seeking out transparency and education in CBD products—just like they want with the rest of the pet products they purchase from the independent retailer,” Joyce said. “Unfortunately, there have been no regulations set up within the CBD world. In order to keep customers and retailers properly informed, it is up to the manufacturer to educate them on the difference between the products that are out there.”
Denise Strong, co-owner of Pawz on Main in Cottonwood, Ariz., agreed. She exclusively sells Pet Releaf because she believes so strongly in the product and said that her sales for CBD products grow weekly. In fact, CBD products are currently the best-selling items in her store.
“The driving trend is the fact that pet parents want natural solutions for their pets,” Strong said. “They’re doing their best to get away from pharmaceutical drugs when they can solve a problem more naturally.”
CBD products for pets are becoming more popular for treating human health needs, and the trend is trickling down to pets.
“As more and more people are either reading about the benefits of CBD for pets or using it themselves, the more they are interested in providing the same relief to their pets,” said Jodi Ziskin, communications director for Treatibles in Oakland, Calif. “Additionally, the health benefits of CBD and other nonpsychoactive phytocannabinoids have a place in every home-remedy kit. More and more people who want to get well, without getting high, are exploring CBD.”
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
There’s no question that education is incredibly valuable in the cannabidiol (CBD) category. Heidi Nevala, president and founder of Minneapolis-based Petabis Organics, said that not all CBD is created equal, and it’s important to understand the differences.
“Ask for documentation regarding your supplier’s cultivation, harvest and extraction process,” Nevala said. “As a reseller partner, your supplier should happily supply this type of information in detail. You should also verify if they are offering an isolate or actual full-spectrum CBD oil. Most CBD products on the market are isolates, but we do not manufacture CBD isolate oils. Petabis Organics products are produced via NES Vapor Distillation, a patented extraction process which produces the highest levels of naturally occurring terpenes and cannabinoids of any activated edible oil extract in the world.”
There are a lot of false claims and products out there that are not what shoppers think they are, said Denise Strong, co-owner of Pawz on Main in Cottonwood, Ariz. It can make the shopping experience for customers overwhelming.
“Because it’s still so new, and there’s a lot of misinformation out there—people buy products that are knock-offs without even realizing it,” Strong said. “I had one customer that spent over $100 on a bottle of hemp oil, and it turned out that 85 percent of the bottle was olive oil. The problem is that people don’t have the time to do all the research to understand what they’re buying.”
That’s where an educated retailer comes in.
“Honesty and transparency are the most important things for retailers in this category as they discuss CBD products with their customers,” said Chelsea Joyce, vice president of sales for Pet Releaf in Englewood, Colo. “CBD and hemp products are, quite possibly, the least understood and most widely misrepresented products in the pet industry. It is imperative that a manufacturer is able to prove where their hemp is coming from, prove with certifications if they are claiming organic and prove whether they are using true hemp strains or marijuana hybrids. Retailers need to educate themselves as much as possible so that they fully understand that CBD products are vastly different in safety and efficacy.”
Aquila Brown, president of The Yuppy Puppy in Spokane, Wash., noted that ensuring staff members are well educated is important.
“We do lengthy training with our staff so they understand what CBD products are, what they can be used for and what they can’t be used for, how they’re different from human products, and how to approach customers about it,” Brown said.
GENERATE INTEREST IN CBD
There are a lot of ways marketing campaigns can be used to draw attention to cannabidiol (CBD) products and drive new interest. Marketing efforts also pose an additional opportunity to educate the public.
Blogging is always a great outlet to get people interested in CBD products, said Jennifer A. Chiongbian, owner of Denver-based Bark Avenue. Bark Avenue also has a video tutorial on YouTube that teaches people how to make their own cannabis dog treats at home and how to buy quality oil. The more you can educate the public, the better, she said.
Taste-testing opportunities also are a great way to get pet owners excited, said Heidi Nevala, president and founder of Petabis Organics in Minneapolis.
“Pet parents are often worried that their pet will not like the taste,” she said. “We sample our CBD snacks heavily. For example, our Calming Support Snack is a direct way to measure the stress-relieving effects it may impart to their dog, and when their dog also loves the taste, the pet parent’s confidence soars.”
Denise Strong, co-owner of Pawz on Main in Cottonwood, Ariz., said she hosted a Lunch & Learn on the ABCs of CBD, and that it was incredibly popular. She ran an ad in her local paper, handed out fliers and targeted her email base. The result was a huge turnout and a lot of customers asked when the store will do it again, Strong said.
Where should retailers focus their attention when talking to customers about CBD products?