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Educating pet owners about common misconceptions about cannabidiol (CBD) products can help boost sales in the category.


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As more dog owners seek out natural solutions for their pets’ ailments, cannabidiol (CBD) products have continued to gain steady traction. Pet specialty retailers and manufacturers report growing interest in these products. 

Chelsea Joyce, vice president of sales for CBD-product manufacturer Pet Releaf in Littleton, Colo., said the company is seeing major growth in the overall supplement and vitamin segment because pet owners are not only looking for all-natural alternatives to traditional pharmaceuticals, but also effective preventives to help keep their furry family members healthier for longer.

However, word-of-mouth advertising and increasing consumer awareness about the effectiveness of CBD products in particular are helping to grow this segment of the category, Joyce added. 

CBD-based supplements and remedies come in various forms, from powders, oils and oil capsules that can be taken orally to topical ointments and pet treats, and manufacturers are touting their effectiveness at addressing a variety of concerns from achy joints to anxiety.

“With the growth [of legalized] medical marijuana [in many] states, we see the conversation expanding in terms of what the cannabis plant family, like hemp, can do on a medicinal level,” Joyce said. “More people are becoming comfortable with the idea that, when produced properly and safely, cannabis products are a great holistic alternative to traditional pharmaceuticals.” 

Steven Saxton, CEO and founder of Green Gorilla, which has U.S. headquarters in Los Angeles, agreed. 

“Many feel this is a healthier and more impactful way to deal with health issues,” said Saxton, whose company manufactures CBD products for people and pets. 

New Products

Treat Them Right

A variety of new cannabidiol (CBD) products have recently hit the market. At Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Fla., in March, Berkeley, Calif.-based Holistic Hound introduced three products: Mighty Mojo Mushroom CBD-Rich Hemp Oil, Mighty Mojo Mushroom Powder, and Lamb Liver CBD and Medicinal Mushroom Dog Treats. These three products have joined Holistic Hound’s full line of supplements for both cats and dogs. 

Ian Quinn, CEO of Phyto Animal Health in San Diego, said that in April, the company launched HempBone Bacon Apple Donuts, an artisan soft-baked pet chew. Made in the USA, each soft baked chew contains 4 milligrams of CBD.

Pet Releaf launched two products at Global Pet Expo, according to Chelsea Joyce, vice president of sales for the Littleton, Colo.-based company. Hemp Oil Liposomes use water-soluble technology and can be administered on food. It is available in two potencies. 

Pet Releaf also added Edibite Soft Chews, a grain-free soft chew recipe, to its Edibites product line. These soft chews are available in two flavors: Sweet Potato Pie and Peanut Butter Carob Swirl.

Consumer Education

Debunking the Misconceptions

Before a retailer can educate their customers about any product, they must educate themselves.

“Simply put, if you can’t educate your customers on [cannabidiol] CBD because you don’t understand it well enough yourself, you’re not going to sell it,” said Denise Strong, co-owner of Pawz On Main in Cottonwood, Ariz. “The key to sales is education.”

Chelsea Joyce, vice president of sales for CBD-product manufacturer Pet Releaf in Littleton, Colo., said the company sees a direct correlation between a retailer’s sales and how much time they’ve taken to learn about the product line themselves.

“When it comes to CBD products, it’s all about the retailer being able to give the customer confidence in what they are purchasing,” she added. 

Ian Quinn, CEO of Phyto Animal Health in San Diego, agreed. He said that first and foremost, pet owners want to know these products are safe and legal for their pets to use. Therefore, it’s important for retailers to ensure their customers that CBD products do not require a prescription as one would need for medical marijuana. 

In fact, pet owners often think CBD products are the same as marijuana. They assume their pet is going to get high or stoned, which has led to a lot of misinformation about how the products work. CBD does not have THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. In other words, CBD is not psychoactive and will not create a “high.” 

Kim McCohan, chief happiness officer for Bend Pet Express, which has two locations in Bend, Ore., said that she gets passionate about education and loves the opportunity to change peoples’ opinions on CBD products. 

“My personal favorite analogy to hemp versus marijuana is the citrus family,” McCohan said. “On one side, you have oranges, and on the other side, you have lemons. Both are part of the citrus family but have very different audiences. This usually opens [customers’] minds enough to listen further.” 

Even so, there are always going to be customers that don’t like trying something new. Ryan Oaks, general manager of Mini-Critters in Sioux Falls, S.D., said he has come to realize that some customers just might never be onboard, but he doesn’t let that discourage him from educating customers who are interested. 

“There is a lot of opportunity for education and helping people understand what these products are—but with that said, you have to accept they’re not for everyone,” Oaks said. “I am always going to have a customer who says, ‘I don’t want to get my dog high,’ even though that’s not what this product does. Not everyone wants to be educated and learn about something new.” 

Marketing

Talk to Customers at the Till

There are many ways to promote cannabidiol (CBD) products that will get customers excited about giving them a try. Chelsea Joyce, vice president of sales for CBD-product manufacturer

Pet Releaf in Littleton, Colo., said that the company’s No. 1 recommendation for retailers who want to promote these products is to first try it themselves. 

“CBD for a first-time consumer can be very intimidating,” Joyce said. “When a customer can speak to a retailer who has used the products and seen a difference in their loved one, they can give the customer great confidence in giving it a try for their pet.”

The try-it-before-you-buy-it mentality is also helpful in this category. 

“In my opinion, the best way to engage consumers about our products is to offer samples at the front counter or register along with brochures and signage about the benefits of supplements and CBD,” said Heidi Hill, trained homeopath and founder of Holistic Hound, a manufacturer CBD-based pet products that also operates a pet store in Berkeley, Calif., which focuses on natural food, treats and supplements. 

Communication is valuable as well, Hill added.

“Email blasts to your customer list are also effective. So many customers are curious about these products and often don’t know that they are available outside of dispensaries,” she said. “Organizing a talk or lecture by a local expert is another great way to educate and create interest and demand.” 

No matter how a retailer chooses to promote CBD and other supplement products, focusing on education is key, said Steven Saxton, CEO and founder of Green Gorilla, which has U.S. headquarters in Los Angeles. 

“There is a wealth of information about how to use CBD and its effectiveness when used as a remedy for certain conditions,” Saxton said. “Retailers need to cut through all the hype and clutter and provide customers with the facts. Providing a fact sheet at the point-of-sale, for example, would be hugely beneficial.”  

Kelly Kaliszewski, owner of Zoey’s Place, A Natural Pet Market, in Littleton, Colo., said that she purposely keeps CBD products near the front counter to promote conversation and education. 

“When it’s right in front of [customers], it brings up questions and generates interest,” Kaliszewski said. “We certainly get a lot of customers who mistakenly assume it’s marijuana. But when it’s right at the register, I get the opportunity to educate, which, in turn, helps promote the products.” 

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