There is a dizzying array of new hemp CBD products coming to market, but one recently launched brand stands out as unique: Winged CBD was founded by a woman and its products are designed specifically for women.
A few years back, after experiencing crippling anxiety as a result of a string of major life events, founder Jessica Mulligan turned to CBD. “The relief I felt was immediate and palpable; I slept for the first time in eight months,” she says. “I wanted to share the benefits I found with CBD with women everywhere.”
Thus, the idea for Winged CBD was born. Officially launched this June, Winged’s non-GMO hemp CBD oils, soft gels and gummies contain full-spectrum extracts of organically grown hemp, along with various plant oils that help address women’s health needs. For example, Winged’s Relaxation CBD Gummies, a Natural Products Expo West 2019 NEXTY Award finalist, serve up 10 milligrams of CBD per serving plus evening primrose oil for hormonal support and lemon balm, L-theanine and chamomile for calm.
Winged also excels in its quality control and transparency. All products are tested by a third-party lab for quality, potency and purity, and every label displays a QR code linking to each batch’s certificate of analysis.
We recently chatted with Mulligan to learn more about Winged’s unique positioning and the importance of independent retail to its growth strategy.
Why do women need CBD products designed specifically for them?
Jessica Mulligan: Statistically, women experience anxiety, depression and insomnia at twice the rate men do. Our bodies have different hormonal shifts and responses and need different nutrients.
How do Winged products differ from CBD products that are not gender specific?
JM: We formulate with female-specific nutrients like evening primrose oil, black cohosh, chaste tree berry and lemon balm. We spoke to hundreds of women and asked: What do you need to help you be the best version of yourself? We heard the same things over and over again—balance, sleep, mood and stress—so we formulated specifically for those conditions.
What most helped market your products in the beginning?
JM: There are bans on advertising CBD on Google, Instagram and Facebook, so we have used organic social marketing, consumer events and demos to spread the word about Winged CBD.
How do you position your products in mass, natural and online retail?
JM: We sell direct-to-consumer on our website and are sold in natural and fine retailers nationwide.
What was the first retail account you landed?
JM: We met with Wegmans early on, and our category manager, Elizabeth, immediately recognized our differentiation from other CBD brands. She was excited that Winged’s positioning and packaging will bring new CBD users into the category. Wegmans has taken an early stand on CBD and is a leader in this space.
Where do you focus your retail education efforts?
JM: We are developing retail training modules through ExpertVoice, holding monthly webinars for retailers and investing in a national demo program.
Why is it important for your products to be in independent stores?
JM: The value that independents bring to any new brand is immense. Independents will educate and advocate on your behalf if they believe in what you are doing. I can’t underestimate the power of the independent retailer.
How can independents stay in the game as hemp CBD gains a wider audience?
JM: I suggest that stores support and encourage continuing education about CBD for employees—allow retail associates to attend webinars, utilize ExpertVoice modules and stay abreast of legal issues. There’s so much confusion about CBD in the public that the more knowledgeable a retail staff is, the more consumers will be drawn to that store instead of purchasing an unknown product online or from another retailer that doesn’t have a dedicated employee in the supplements aisle.
What is the biggest challenge for hemp CBD brands right now?
JM: An oversaturation of the market and differentiation with formulas and quality. Self-regulation is also something that, as an industry, we need to continue to push for. There are a lot of bad players out there, and the quality companies need parameters in place so consumers can trust in what they are buying.
What’s next for Winged?
JM: We will be working with different delivery systems and need states to help women with all aspects of life.