Waiting For FDA Guidelines On CBD Marketing? What You Can Do Now
The Food and Drug Administration has yet to clarify marketing guidelines for CBD products, but that’s not stopping regulators from cracking down on companies that advertise carelessly. The Federal Trade Commission took sweeping action against a group of manufacturers in 2020, asserting that those companies made unsubstantiated health claims. Some violators faced monetary fines — an industry first. Another case was settled in May 2021, and it likely won’t be the last.
As a marketer in the industry, you might face scrutiny from law enforcement, or CBD ad restrictions from major platforms. Despite these obstacles, the future looks bright. According to a SingleCare survey, one-third of American adults have used CBD products at least once, and the industry is a hotbed of innovation.
This surge has led to more competition in the space. In a highly saturated market, building trust and credibility is critical to driving sales. Here are three tips to make that process easier:
1. Let existing regulations and laws guide you. Despite the lack of regulatory clarity from the FDA, there are established rules you should follow. For instance, it’s illegal to claim your product has FDA approval unless you’re marketing the one CBD product (Epidiolex) that’s been approved so far.
It’s also currently illegal to market CBD products as dietary supplements or foods, or claim that your product can prevent, treat, or cure diseases. If you’re not up to date on the laws governing the industry, seek advice from an experienced professional before crafting your brand messaging.
2. Aim to understand your target audience. Your job is to find out what’s compelling your target customer to purchase CBD products. What positive impact are they seeking? How does CBD differ from other solutions? What advantages might that give customers?
When it comes to messaging, tailor your language to the benefits that your specific audience is looking for without mentioning the discomfort that’s driving their search. For instance, you might say your product “supports a healthy appetite” or “promotes calm.” Don’t say it “makes you hungry” or “eliminates anxiety.” That type of verbiage cannot be used in marketing collateral.
3. Prioritize education. Perhaps the biggest obstacle facing most marketers today is a lack of education about the products they’re promoting. In the media and among the general public, misconceptions abound surrounding CBD’s relationship to marijuana, its short- and long-term effects on the brain and body, and its legal status, among others. Moreover, Shivani Patel, who holds a doctorate in pharmacy, led a 2020 study that revealed many community pharmacists lack knowledge of, and confidence in, CBD products.
You can (and should) promote clarity by educating consumers through existing channels. Additional education will generate more interest and help dispel some of the myths you’re currently fighting against.
Although the FDA plans to quicken the development of CBD regulations, there’s still no real timeline in place. Until that changes, you’ll likely face hurdles when advertising CBD products. By keeping these tips in mind, you can avoid regulatory penalties, build credibility with audiences, and lead the ongoing evolution of this exciting industry.