Episode 43: CBD Product Trends with CStore Decisions



Joe: On this episode of "The CBD University Podcast," imagine having a job testing the newest CBD products in the industry, from edibles to topicals, everything in between. We're giving you a taste of that on this episode of "The CBD University Podcast" and it starts right now.

I'm Joe Agostinelli, host of "The CBD University Podcast." If you are a returning listener, welcome once again to our podcast. If you are a new listener, we are glad you found us on your podcast platform of choice. Remember, hit that Subscribe button on your favorite podcast platform, you'll get notifications when new episodes are released each week. You can also tune into live video episodes of all of our podcasts on the Global Widget YouTube channel, and the YouTube channels of our brands. And this is, if you are watching on our YouTube channel, this is another one of our Zoom podcasts, which have become kind of the norm during this thing we're going on, this health pandemic. And on this episode, I'm excited...we CStore Decisions all the time and I'm excited to welcome Thomas Mulloy of CStore Decisions with a great back trap [SP], nice profession, he's rivaling our professional setup here. So Thomas, I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy day. I know you have a lot going on over there, you guys are doing a lot of great things, but thanks for...

Thomas: We do. I don't have the neon light you've got back there. I wish I had something like that but, you know, they're not gonna send that to my basement because we're all working at home now. But we do okay. Our graphics department put these things together and they're terrific, yeah. They really are.

Joe: And you can see more of those in some of the videos right on their website, and we'll talk a little bit more about that as we get going here in the podcast. But as I mentioned on the intro, you're no stranger to any of the new products that come out to the market. But first before we get into some of the products and some of the trends and what you're seeing in the industry, a little bit about yourself. How you got involved with CStore Decisions and into the CBD space?

Thomas: Well, I've got some radio background. Early in my career, I worked in some local news. I was a news reporter. Then, I also worked at a small weekly newspaper here in Cleveland, and then I kinda got into some other things. But I always kinda kept something going on. For awhile, I volunteered doing a little entertainment, 10-minute entertainment broadcast. I would record that at home, and then they would play it on a Sunday program, on a weekly basis. So I always kinda kept in touch with different things like that, and I've always been doing just media stuff and writing, and always keeping the juices flowing. And I got into photography and things like that, and it all came full circle, and now I'm doing all that stuff here at CStore Decisions and for CBD Retail Trends.

Joe: And as I mentioned in full transparency, as part of Thomas' role, he's tried out our newest products, and we'll get to that...

Thomas: I have.

Joe: ...in a little bit. But first, let's start off with the state of the industry. Is there one type of product over another, whether it be edibles, whether it be topicals, whether it be something else that you're seeing more and more of now that you may have not seen of prior?

Thomas: It's gotta be the edibles. I mean, it's just an easy entry way. I think right now in the convenience store business, their customers are just getting familiar with CBD products, and these are most familiar with other products they've had. So you know, anything from gummies. Also, the sodas are a good thing too, you know, to drink. They've bought sodas before so folks who are just a little curious and are gonna try it, once they get convinced that it's a good thing and it might help them out, I think those are two of the top ones that I'm seeing a lot more of. A lot more of the CBD waters as well. So a lot of the drinkables, a lot of the edibles, I'd say. Plus, the price point is right on those too.

Joe: And speaking of the edibles, one of the videos that you had done not too long ago was when we came out with our new CBD gummies from Hemp Bombs. Your thoughts on the gummies and as you see more and more edibles, what was some of the feedback for us?

Thomas: Well, first off with any gummies, it's rare that I've found a bad one that tastes bad, that tastes like it has a bad flavoring, whatever science behind it. I don't know what they do. So you gotta be careful not to treat them like candy. But the ones I've got from you guys, there's the regular strength and the extra strength, I think it is. And so, I'll take at least one of two of those during the day, and then I pop one of the sleep ones at night just before I go to bed.

Joe: Awesome. A fan of the new flavors?

Thomas: Yes, I am. All the flavors.

Joe: Do you have a favorite one? You could be honest. We ask folks...

Thomas: I don't.

Joe: ...on our social media all the time if they have a...

Thomas: Whichever one I'm having right at that moment is my favorite.

Joe: Awesome.

Thomas: That's all I could tell you.

Joe: Awesome. Well, we're glad to hear that. Now, in addition to edibles, we seem to be seeing more and more topicals on the market, and among our line of CBD topicals, our award-winning bath bombs available from both our brands, Hemp Bombs and Nature's Script. What have you seen from companies in regards to topical products, and maybe how they can work hand-in-hand with some of the edibles that are on the market today?

Thomas: I think the topicals, a lot of that is wellness and you're gonna...I've seen kind of maybe two types of consumers on that playing out. The older folks who, you know, I'm almost there myself, well, you know, my wife will tell me sometimes that I am there. But, you know, aches and pains you get when you get older, and they're little things but they can be a real problem. You know, they can hamper you and get in the way a little bit, so I'm seeing a lot of creams, a lot of roll-ons, that kind of thing, targeted at older consumers. But also, the athlete, either the weekend warrior, those folks, and that goes hand-in-hand with guys who are getting old and still wanna take part in different leagues and things like that, whether it be football on weekend or softball during the summer or anything like that. But, you also see a lot of very active athletes who are using CBD topicals to relieve pain, that you know, either with the menthol in them or without the menthol or whatever. All different kind of mixes of stuff. There's an awful lot of products out there and they run the gamut on all three of those consumers.

Joe: And our newest product on the topical line that just came out, the CBD lip balm, if you're a coconut vanilla flavor fan, maybe we'll send you a sample of that.

Thomas: You could call it pina colada. Is that...?

Joe: There you go. Yeah.

Thomas: No, I'm just...

Joe: I like it.

Thomas: I'm just kidding. Send me one of those. Yeah, that'd be great.

Joe: Yeah, absolutely.

Thomas: Thomas: Absolutely.

Joe: Absolutely we'll do that. Without mentioning, you know, any specific brand or company, I mean, obviously as an organization who is, you know, has a finger on the pulse of everything in the CBD industry, have you been sent or seen products that folks have sent in the, you know, just don't make the one, the list of the ones you actually do test or promote? Have you seen some crazy products yet or is this industry not yet to that phase?

Thomas: I think what we've gotta be careful of is the...THC, like, too much THC or a lot of the retailers are weary of this, because anything that has to do...especially in the convenience channel, anything that has to do with getting high or marijuana, they don't want that because all their CStores, they're family places, you know? You bring the kids, you get the chicken there, you get whatever, the hoagies, or a lot of people get dinner there, there's candy, there's drinks and everything else. They don't want, you know, it's a family place. And anything that has to do with that kind of thing, they don't wanna see that connection, I'd say in the CStore channel anyway. I once had a...I was sent a tincture and as soon as I opened it, it smelled like a big bag of pot. And that ain't...no, that's not gonna...I don't think that's gonna work, you know, that kinda thing. Most products I've seen though across the board, are done really well. They don't have that kinda thing there. But I'd say anything that has to do with, you know, that's too connected to marijuana and too connected to, you know, the whole high thing, I think if you stick with wellness, you stick with how this is gonna help you get through the day and make you feel better, and just, you know, function normally, I think that anything like that, those are great products and that's what they're gonna be looking at.

Joe: Thoughts as we head now into the final quarter of 2020 and into 2021 in the CStore space. Do you see still the edibles, you know, or do you see some maybe emerging products there that may share some of the shelf space with the edibles when it comes to CBD products?

Thomas: I would say seeing an awful lot more drinks. I think I said this before, was the sodas. You seen a lot of different sodas and iced teas, and some of these teas are really good. There's some creative flavoring going on, there's some mango and other stuff. They're mixing, like, mango and strawberry and things like that. There's some really creative combinations there. But I'd say the drinks are probably the next one, and again, it's an easy, I don't wanna say gateway, but it's an easy entry point for folks who are looking to just try CBD and see if it helps them out. So I think that one and of course, these topicals are, I think anyone's looking for relief, the topicals are something they're gonna reach for. As long as it's not too high in the price point because, you know, even though a lot of folks don't understand, and this is another point too, one more question, is what CBD, how long does a tincture last. They don't understand how many doses and all that stuff, and it's gonna take time to get that education across. But right now, it's the familiar stuff and I'd say the edibles and I'd say beyond that, you're looking at the sodas and drinks and things like that.

Joe: And that takes us to the next question. Is education one of those, you know, the emerging issues that you see in this industry that face retailers? Is it that education for consumers of exactly, you know, what this product does for them, how much they should take, that is one of the issues? And what are some of the other issues that you may hear from industry insiders in regards to selling CBD products in the CStore space?

Thomas: Yeah, I would say the education absolutely is a big thing because folks just don't know. And you know, with the explosion of all the products across the board, the whole industry, you know, the retailers don't know and they're trying to learn this as best they can, so they've got a big job ahead of them. Then, you've gotta get the consumer who's just going in to buy a product. They're not there to go to school and study this stuff, but still, I have run into some retailers who find that pamphlets, just they don't force them on people. They're just there at the counter if you're interested, or if they got a separate CBD display, they've got them there. They have information on their websites. They're also going to specific CBD retailers to train some staff members to learn about these things so they can answer any questions.

There's a chain up in the Northeast, up in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, VERC. They have, I don't know how many CStores, maybe two or three dozen. I'm not sure off the top of my head, but they are all in on this. The owner, I did a podcast with him not too long ago, about 6, 8, 10 months ago, and he is all in for it, I mean, based upon his first-hand experience with CBD products. I think he's in his early to mid 60s, he says that it has helped him out with his daily aches and pain, he feels better, he moves better, he wakes up better, he sleeps better, and he's using CBD. And so, just based on that, he did a little bit more research, got some more information. So what he's done is he has taken, he took out a small quick sort of restaurant, you know, like, I'm not gonna mention any kind of brand or anything, but he took the restaurant out and he put in a CBD store. Not just a kiosk, but there's a store there with a dedicated staff member who works for him. But they have, you know, a little smock or shirt or whatever, for the partner that is operating the store. But they bring in all different brands. But that person is trained in what CBD can and can't do, what the different types of products are, what the dosing is, why this is this, why that is that. And I really think this is gonna be, I'd say the wave of the future for an awful lot of convenience store chains.

Joe: And something else you mentioned during our conversation was the price point. You know, is there a price point, price level in the CStore space for products to be competitive and still be top of mind for that impulse buy from consumers?

Thomas: For impulse, I'd say you gotta be, you know, no more than $15. But I would say up to $30 bucks if they're thinking about it and doing their research for your buyer that's already into it ta little bit. You know, and after that, maybe once they get acclimated to it and they learn more about it, I think they'll be more comfortable spending more money. But right now, I think most of those consumers, you know, you've gotta get the min. Price is definitely gonna be an issue. As we said before, the familiarity as well. So I've seen products that go as low as 5.99 for a couple of gummies or something like that. And of course, we've seen the ones that are a lot higher too. So I think getting them acclimated and getting folks the education end of it, the price end of it, and then also the familiarity as far as the product goes, I think all those three things together, it's going to take all of that to just make this more mainstream and get these benefits of CBD to all these consumers.

Joe: And it's certainly been a challenging year in 2020 with everything that's gone on, and the CStore space is certainly, you know, susceptible to all the challenges that everyone else has been going through. What are some of the changes in the CStore space that the industry has faced that you've seen this year?

Thomas: As far as CBD goes, you mean or?

Joe: Yes.

Thomas: Well, being just a product along with all the other products, I mean, foot traffic had dropped for awhile there. The fuel traffic dropped an awful lot as well because people aren't going anywhere. Things are starting to bounce back a little bit now but again, back to the whole pricing thing, it's, you know, just getting people to start buying again and I think there was a jump a bit in CBD products as far as anxiety, things of that nature. And they certainly do work for that. But I think a lot of people started going online, and so that kinda maybe took the edge off of that a little bit for them. But I think now, people are still gonna be buying CBD, it's just a matter of getting everything back up and open and safe and all that kinda thing. But you know, I think the retailer is gonna be good and I think they're also a lot more, are more friendly every day that I talk to, because I talk to retailers every month for my stories, for either...they're online or the print magazine, and more and more or more open and friendly to CBD and the options, and I think some of them...I was speaking to one this week and he was saying how he's just not sure what a good product is and what a bad product is. So he needs the education himself. So this is another thing that I think the reputable companies are gonna be the ones that filter down. You're gonna see a lot of these other fly by night operations go by the wayside, hopefully we'll get some federal leadership on this stuff. The dearth of regulation, I mean, there's regulation but it's not enforced, or they haven't jumped in on something else, and it's just, you know, there's no leadership there from the federal government. So you know, you're stuck with the states and the patchwork quilt and all that with states and local ordinances. But I think it's coming along and the CStore, I think, is gonna be a great place for it too because it's like all these other convenient products. It's right there. It's gonna be at the checkout or whatever, and once folks know more about it, and once the retailers know more about it, I think you're gonna see it take off and really, really mainstream.

Joe: In addition to educational resources like our podcast and your guys' podcast, obviously CStore Decisions has a lot of educational resources. And in the CBD space, what are some of the new educational resources that you guys have launched here recently?

Thomas: Well, we've been doing just across the board with our CStore Decisions website, but also I'm in charge of the CBD Retail Trends website, and we're trying to post...my outlook on that is I'm trying to post things that are gonna be helpful to retailers, so they can learn about the products, learn what they are, familiarize them with it. You know, there's kind of a balancing act you've gotta do, because some things about hemp farms and things like that, they're interesting. I find them interesting, but the retailer's not gonna know what that's about, or not really gonna care what that's about. They wanna know what's a good product, how do I tell a good one from a bad one, how do I know what a topical is gonna do, what's a tincture, what's the difference between the oils. So we have FAQs on our website that tells you, you know, what's the difference between CBD oil and CBD tincture? What's the difference between this and that, you know, that kind of thing. So you can find that information on our CBD Retail Trends. You can also find some of that on our CStore Decisions website too.

Joe: And I invite our listeners and our viewers to visit both of those websites. You can also sign up for all the email newsletters. You guys do a great job. I know weekly on the CBD Retail Trends with some of the latest new products, and then just about daily or so on the CStore Decisions. So do visit both of those websites, sign up for the newsletters and you can all stay informed and get educated on everything CBD from...

Thomas: We're trying.

Joe: Yeah. That CStore Decision has going on. So Thomas, I wanna thank you for taking time to join us for this episode of "The CBD University Podcast," and hopefully we can do this again in the new future.

Thomas: I'd love to. Thanks. This was great. Very easy, very...as I say, swift and painless or quick and painless, I guess. But it's great. You're a great host. I appreciate your time as well. You know, it's really cool to be on here.

Joe: Thank you. Thomas Mulloy from CStore Decisions, my guest on this episode of "The CBD University Podcast" and as I mentioned in the intro, if you have not yet done so, I invite you to subscribe to our podcast, the audio version on your favorite podcast app of choice or the video version, or both. The video version available on our YouTube channel, that's the YouTube channel at Global Widget, and the YouTube channels of our brands. You'll get notifications when new episodes are published each week. For now, I'm Joe Agostinelli, the host of "The CBD University Podcast." Thanks for tuning in.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The CBD products are not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. Always consult your personal physician about CBD and using CBD products. CBD should never be used by anyone under the age of 18. This content is not intended to provide legal advice regarding the legal status of CBD and CBD products.