Natural Foods Merchandiser
Jordan Fink merchandising CBD

Q&A: Practical tips for selling hemp-derived CBD at retail

Where should you merchandise CBD? And how can you help customers understand what it is? We asked one retailer who's had great success moving CBD products in his Indiana store.

Indiana has become ground zero in the tussle over hemp-derived CBD as the state police and attorney general target the ingredient. Yet residents have taken to the product like they have across the country. Where a year ago Adele’s Naturally, based in southwest Indiana, sold maybe 10 boxes in a week, on a Saturday in December, the store sold 150 boxes in a single day. We spoke with Jordan Fink, who is known locally as “Mr. CBD,” about his store’s experience riding the wave.

What merchandising tips can you share with other retailers?

Jordan Fink: First, I look for third-party verification so products can demonstrate that what’s in the bottle is truly in there. Retailers can merchandise hemp-derived CBD in a number of sections. I think of it like probiotics—I have probiotics in our digestion area; I have it in our refrigerated section; I put probiotics in our men’s section, in our women’s section, in our brain section, in our immune section; I cross-market it in every area of our store. With our hemp CBD, it began for us in the adaptogens section. Since then we have moved it right to the front of the store—it’s become the backbone of our store for the time being, so we gave it prominent placement right up front. We have a lot of people who come in and 2 feet into our store is as far as they make it. It fits in joint, brain, immune; we put it everywhere.

We have signage so people can know what hemp is and who the companies are. We’ve been playing with putting up photos of the founders. It’s a conversation starter. All of a sudden they’re interested because we match people with product. This goes for a variety of categories, not just our hemp-derived CBD lines.

Brand-provided literature is important because people like taking stuff home with them whether or not they buy the product. If you have that brand-provided literature with a product logo, and they tell a friend about hemp-derived CBD and it has a brochure with a picture of a product or a brand name, they associate the brand with the product.

Testers work particularly well with topicals because they are easy to test. But also, if you can get samples of capsules, customers want to see how big they are, if they can swallow them, see the consistency and size and all that.

What are the top questions customers ask?

JF: My favorite is, is this that pot oil, wouldn’t it be so much better if it had THC? For certain people, who knows, maybe. I tell them that for a lot of people, full-caffeine coffee is better than caffeine free. For others, it’s the opposite.

The one question we get most often is: Am I going to fail a drug test? My answer has changed several times over the two years we’ve carried this product. My answer now is you can absolutely fail a drug test. There are different drug tests. Everyone is taking different doses. The possibility is absolutely there. Our recommendation is that if a customer is using any kind of hemp-derived CBD or extract, he or she should take the bottle and show it to his doctor, show it to his manager, to HR. If they have a problem with it, a customer shouldn’t use this product.

What advice can you give to other retailers about selling hemp-derived CBD?

JF: Be knowledgeable. If you don’t understand the product and you don’t understand what we’re dealing with is hemp-derived CBD, don’t sell it. This is not a marijuana extract—isn’t that exactly what we’re trying to get away from? Use the tools at your disposal, whether it be literature or signage or education. Use all of it right now. Doing all this, you brand your store and you brand yourself—I’ve embraced my personal brand as the CBD guy. 

Fink recently participated in New Hope Network's free webinar, "CBD in Retail: A Year in Review." Watch the webinar on-demand here.

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