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In Session

Consumer need drives CBD innovation

CBD and hemp products.
When looking at the budding hemp business, industry leaders Brad Gruno, Unna Goods; Jim Hamilton, Neptune Wellness Solutions; Jason Mitchell, Hemp Fusion; and Todd Runestad, New Hope Network discuss what goes into the thinking around innovation and product differentiation.

“One of the things that is really important as a community trying to have this budding business, pun intended, I believe we have to look and understand what the consumers are wanting.” 

—Jason Mitchell, N.D., Hemp Fusion

Part 1: The business of hemp


  • The business development of hemp should be measured by categories and size.  
  • The growth of the hemp business is a phenomenon that is rarely seen.
  • How important is legalizing marijuana to the business of CBD? 
  • For people in nutrition products to be successful, it’s about engaging with the consumers and the value-added proposition. 



Part 2: Hemp as an ingredient 


  • Look at hemp as a whole food, utilizing the whole plant, the seed, the stalk and the oil.
  • There is value in creating a product that combines hemp with other ingredients to maximize effectiveness. 
  • In this fledgling industry, scaling and consistency are considerable issues. 
  • Companies can build trust and relationships by having a consistent source of ingredients. Don’t prioritize price, prioritize quality. 
  • Transparency is about education on every aspect, from growing to processing.



Part 3: Regulations


  • The rise of the CBD industry allows the opportunity to refresh regulations across all channels in the food and nutrition industry.
  • Canada is a good test market because it does not have the same constricting regulations as the U.S., especially with banks. 
  • Research is valuable for start-up brands. “Where science leads, markets follow.”
  • The challenge will be to work with companies that are delivering a consistent quality and supporting the science. It’s a symbiotic relationship.  



Part 4: Brand differentiation 


  • Consumer needs should drive innovation. 
  • Address common health issues, and embrace the whole food category, using products that are backed by science.
  • Stress, sleep and pain are the main reason people try CBD products initially. 


This session—Merry Hempsters & Ganjapreneurs: Innovation at the Brand Level—was recorded at Natural Products Expo West 2018.

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