Capitalizing on Cannabinoids
Retailers cannot afford to miss out on the sales potential of the rapidly growing cannabinoid category.
For many retailers, the cannabinoid category represents an untamed territory filled with more questions than answers. With concerns over safety, efficacy and even legality, some pet business owners are too intimidated to stock CBD oils, treats, balms and sprays. However, with the right research, knowledge and products, a retailer can take advantage of this burgeoning category and boost sales.
The first step to harnessing the sales potential of cannabinoid products is to understand how they promote pet health. Retailers shouldn’t feel like they need a biology degree to comprehend the science behind cannabinoids. In fact, many manufacturers of pet cannabinoid products provide valuable resources that retailers can use to learn about how cannabinoids affect the body.
Cannabinoids activate the endocannabinoid system (ECS) possessed by all mammals, including humans. The ECS interacts with the cardiovascular, digestive and neurological systems within the body. It also plays an important part in the body’s anti-inflammatory response.
The endocannabinoid system is controlled by the CB and CB receptors. CB receptors are found in neurons while the CB ones are found in the immune system. By activating these receptors, cannabinoids allow for greater communication between the different systems found in mammals, thus treating conditions like inflammation, pain and anxiety. They can also limit and activate other compounds in the body. For instance, cannabinoids can increase the levels of pain-inhibiting chemicals in the bloodstream.
Many pet retailers and customers may automatically assume that, like marijuana, cannabinoid products will get their pets high. However, most pet products do not contain THC, a cannabinoid with psychoactive properties that induce euphoria. Instead, most pet cannabinoid products are made only from cannabidiol (CBD) oil or hemp, which do not contain THC and are therefore legal in all states.
In order to explain this process and clear up any misconceptions, many companies that produce cannabinoid pet products provide valuable resources to retailers, including brochures, informational displays and training sessions. By educating retailers, these companies hope that their products can be presented in an accurate and enlightening manner to potential customers.
“It’s pretty easy to learn, but there is a lot of misinformation out there with so many products on the market,” says Christy Love, co-founder of Reno, Nev.-based Super Snouts Hemp Company. “The best source of information comes from personal training with our staff and the brochures and informational documents on our website that we have created to make learning simple.”
An offshoot of the Super Snouts health supplement brand, Super Snouts Hemp Company recently launched a new pharmaceutical grade, THC-free product line of tinctures, gel
caps, topicals and chews.
Holistic Hound shares Super Snouts Hemp Company’s enthusiasm for education. Located in Berkeley, Calif., Holistic Hound is both a natural pet store and a manufacturer of phytocannabinoid-rich (PCR) hemp-based health products.
“Education is so important,” says Heidi Hill, Holistic Hound’s founder. “I love the science behind it. I love explaining how the endocannabinoid system works to people, so they know why and how these products work.”
Hill also emphasizes the importance of knowing the terminology that is used in the cannabinoid product category. For example, phytocannabinoid-rich or PCR can be used interchangeably with CBD, and both designations mean that the product does not contain THC, which can be toxic to animals. By clarifying labels and terms, retailers can more effectively allay concerns about pet cannabinoid products containing THC.
KING KANINE is another cannabinoid pet product company that uses education to eliminate any undeserved stigma given to its merchandise. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based company initially battled incorrect assumptions about its products.
“This is not THC. This is not going to get your dog high,” emphasizes Jeff Riman, CEO of KING KANINE. “This is not psychoactive. This is not something dangerous for your pet. We fought that for the first year.”
The company provides informational resources to retailers in order to effectively explain the benefits of its full line of CBD products, which includes three different oils, three flavors of treats and a soothing balm. In fact, KING KANINE believes that independent retailers have an advantage over large chains in selling cannabinoid pet products, especially those
that emphasize natural, green products and pet wellness.
“The smaller chains, the local chains, the regional chains, the mom and pop stores are much better placed to promote CBD as compared to the large big-box stores,” says Jon Neveloff, an owner of KING KANINE. “What we’ve seen over the past few years is that people like to go to mom-and-pop stores because there’s an inherent knowledge that they can’t get from some school kid working a few months. They’re built from knowledge and passion.”
According to Super Snouts Hemp Company, small independent retailers also have an edge over big-box stores in promoting and selling cannabinoid products because of the personal relationship they have with their customers.
“Pick a customer or two and ask for their feedback on the product,” advises Love. “Their stories will be great for learning how many uses CBD products are great for.”
Gaining personal testimonials from customers can put into context the many benefits that cannabinoid products can provide to pets.
“CBD has a whole host of possibilities when it comes to helping pets maintain their health and wellness,” says Adam Mizrahi, marketing director for Diamond CBD. “It can help with ailments such as allergies, anxiety, loss of appetite, arthritis, anxiety and phobias, and skin problems.”
With its U.S. headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Diamond CBD offers multiple lines of all-natural industrial hemp CBD products. Its Medipets collection for cats and dogs include organic-flavored hemp oils available in multiple sizes. The company manufactures Pet CBD Food, a bacon-flavored hemp oil supplement.
Ravi Singh, CEO of Advance Pet Product, also embraces the health potential of cannabinoid products. “There are many ways these products can improve pet wellness, from hair and skin health to heart and organ health,” says Singh. “Hemp products have the perfect amount of omega fatty acids.”
Advance Pet Product recently launched its k Herbal brand, which includes natural, functional treats such as its Hemp Oil Cheese Snacks. The Waterford, Mich.-based company was inspired to enter the cannabinoid category by the increasing popularity of natural pet products, and a rising interest in cannabinoid products as more states legalize marijuana.
Singh explains that retailers can effectively highlight the advantages of cannabinoid products through their store setup. “They can also categorize the products in stores based on benefits,” he says. “Some products may benefit heart health, while others may be designed specifically for anxiety.” With color-coded labels and signs, retailers can create a strong visual representation of the multitude of uses for cannabinoid products.
In addition to possessing many benefits, cannabinoid products can also be administered in numerous ways. From treats and tinctures to oils and topicals, retailers can help pet parents select the item that best suits their pets’ needs and preferences. For example, with picky pets, retailers can suggest an oil that mixes well with food or a flavored treat, like Holistic Hound’s PCR Hemp oil, which is available in multiple concentrations.
Hill also mentions an important tip that retailers can provide customers looking to start their pet on cannabinoid products. “We recommend that people start with a low minimal dose and then go up incrementally from there if they don’t get the results they desire,” she says. “More is not necessarily better.”
Retailers can also take advantage of seasonal events as an opportunity to sell cannabinoid products. With summertime arriving, pet parents may be searching for solutions to calm dogs during thunderstorms and fireworks celebrations. The anxiety-reducing properties of cannabinoid products make them ideal recommendations for solving this problem.
KING KANINE has seen the calming benefits of its products in action. The company recently teamed up with Marley’s Mutts, a dog rescue group, by providing CBD calming products that made the adoptable dogs less anxious and more likely to socialize with their potential new families.
Retailers should also discuss some of the unexpected benefits that cannabinoid products have for pets. While some pet parents may already be aware of cannabinoid products’ potential for reducing anxiety, they may not know about the healing effect they have on skin.
Several companies have developed products that utilize the dermatological benefits of cannabinoids. Healthy Hemp Pet, which is headquartered in Salt Lake City, offers CannaBalm, an all-natural natural PCR hemp oil salve that treats skin rashes and relieves achy muscles.
Like Healthy Hemp Pet, Pet Releaf has also developed a skincare solution that uses CBD oil. Located in Littleton, Colo., the company offers Canna Care Topical, which promotes skin healing and has anti-inflammatory properties. Its CBD oil combines with uccuba butter and andiroba oil to deliver high amounts of important fatty acids.
In making products like its Canna Care Topical, Pet Releaf maintains control over the entire manufacturing process—from planting the hemp seeds to selling the final product. The company is transparent about its methods and its dedication to using only the best quality hemp.
“We don’t cut a single corner, so we can always guarantee not only the highest quality products, but also the absolute safest and most effective,” says Steve Smith, co-founder and president of Pet Releaf.
Pet Releaf is the only pet company to work with the largest certified USDA organic hemp farm in the U.S. and has planted over 300 acres of its own hemp strain. All of its products are third-party tested as well.
It seems like the increasing popularity of “made in the USA” pet products is also a trend found in the cannabinoid category. Healthy Hemp Pet also uses U.S.-grown hemp in its PCR hemp oils, treats and topicals.
“In our research on foreign sources of hemp, we’ve seen a lot of dubious hemp oil suppliers,” says Dave Merrell, the company’s founder and CEO. “We routinely found heavy metals and pesticides in products we tested. I like to be able to walk the greenhouses where our USDA certified organic hemp is grown and to be able to watch the processing in the lab.”
This greater transparency in manufacturing processes and sourcing will prove to be a vital asset to retailers as more and more companies attempt to take advantage of the cannabinoid craze. As new products flood the market, retailers should use the information they gain from this transparency to ensure that they stock quality options for their customers.
“There is more competition than when we started in 2014,” says Merrell. “A lot of that competition are companies white labeling the same products or they’re marketing companies, rather than pet companies.”
In earning greater popularity, the cannabinoid pet product category will most likely be subject to stricter regulation, which would provide a stronger guarantee to pet retailers and customers that these products are safe for pets and of premium quality. Companies like Pet Releaf see a need for this greater regulation as more and more cannabinoid products become available.
According to Smith, “Since CBD in the pet industry is relatively new and has no regulated quality assurance, many manufacturers are hopping onto the ‘CBD trend’ without doing their own research about how to correctly and safely bring products to market that are genuinely good for our pet companions.”
Retailers should also keep tabs on what’s happening with the legalization of marijuana. Though cannabinoid pet products are separate entities from this drug, they can still feel a ripple effect from changes in marijuana regulation.
For Advance Pet Product, this connection between a pet product category and federal Schedule I drug is not necessarily a bad thing. With widening legalization of marijuana, there is now greater interest in its health potential.
“As many states move to legalize cannabis, they’re allowing for the research on the health benefits as well,” says Singh. “We’re seeing that there are a lot of benefits for people and pets. The more research that comes, the more people seem to flock to these products.”
The health potential of cannabinoids has captured the attention of a U.K.-based company called GW Pharmaceuticals. The company is currently in the process of obtaining a patent for CBD because it developed an epilepsy drug derived from cannabidiol. This action could place limits on the use of the term “CBD” on product labels. Retailers should expect to see changes in terminology, packaging, product names and ingredient lists.
“They’re expecting their first product to be approved like literally any day and when that does happen, none of us will be able to use the term CBD anymore,” says Holistic Hound’s Hill. “Many of us have already stared making changes in our product labeling. Instead of CBD, a lot of people are calling it phytocannabinoid rich.”
For most manufacturers, the CBD patent is only a small hiccup and they are still planning to release new products that cater to this category’s high demand.
Pet Releaf plans to highlight its new Hemp Oil Liposomes at SuperZoo under its recently launched Professional line, which is only available to retailers who have undergone specific training and veterinary professionals. The Liposomes contain certified USDA organic CBD hemp oil mixed with salmon oil.
Pet Releaf isn’t the only company looking to offer new options to retailers and consumers. “Right now, Diamond CBD has plans for a whole host of new products coming out, starting with CBD pet treats,” says Mizrahi. “They will be the perfect way to show pets just how much they are loved.”
The pet cannabinoid category is growing for a good reason: these products make pets happier and healthier. By being knowledgeable about these products, retailers can unlock the potential of this category and help pet parents improve the lives of their cherished companions. PB