TPE 2020 Offers Retailers Tips for Joining the CBD Game

Melissa Kress
Executive Editor
Melissa Kress profile picture
Jacopo D'Alessandris, president and CEO of E-Alternative Solutions, discusses CBD on a panel moderated by Cannapids CEO Case Mandel (r).
Jacopo D'Alessandris, president and CEO of E-Alternative Solutions, discusses CBD on a panel moderated by Cannapids CEO Case Mandel (R).

LAS VEGAS — As the tobacco category evolves from traditional products like combustible cigarettes to more alternative offerings, the convenience channel must keep up with the changes, although c-store retailers may not know where to start. This is certainly true about the emerging CBD category.

As Case Mandel, CEO of Cannapids, noted at Tobacco Plus Expo 2020 (TPE), CBD "is definitely the talk of the town." And he wasn't just referring to Las Vegas where the annual tobacco show took place.

TPE's "Brave New World: Making the Jump Into CBD" session aimed to help retailers move from talking about CBD to adding it as part of their product mix.

Panelist Bethany Gomez, managing director of Brightfield Group, acknowledged that the category can be overwhelming for retailers who are just starting to look at the CBD space because products run the gamut from pillows, to health and beauty items, to edibles.

Among the most popular product types in smoke shops and vapor shops, she said, are tinctures, vapors and gummies. 

Many consumers start with CBD gummies because gummies are familiar to them. From there, they move on to tinctures, noted fellow panelist Laura Fuentes, CEO and co-founder of Green Roads. 

Fuentes also pointed out that topicals are popular now because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to approve CBD as an ingredient in food or drinks.

Think Small

While consumer interest in CBD is growing, convenience stores may find it initially difficult to draw in consumers who are looking for CBD products.

Jacopo D'Alessandris, president and CEO of E-Alternative Solutions, shared that the company's research shows that c-stores and tobacco shops "are not natural destinations for wellness or CBD."

However, if CBD falls in line with the products these retailers already sell — like vapor products, gummies or chewables — they can be. 

To that end, D'Alessandris advised convenience store retailers to think on a smaller scale. C-store shoppers will not spend $60 on a tincture bottle, for example, but they would consider pouches or two-capsule packs.

Deciding which CBD companies to partner with is just as important as deciding which products to carry, the panelists advised. 

As Gomez explained, as more companies move into the CBD category, retailers need to vet the products and look for QR codes on the products that link back to a lab report from a third-party testing facility.

D'Alessandris also offered some questions retailers should ask CBD suppliers:

  • Are you fully insured?
  • Do you take product back?
  • Do you have a certificate of analysis?

Noting similarities between the early days of vapor products and CBD, he said the industry needs to learn from the past. 

"There are a lot of cowboys out there and one day, the sheriff will come to town," he cautioned, noting that the sheriff could come in the form of the FDA as it explores pathways to regulate CBD-infused products.

When that happens, it could lead to a more crowded playing field, according to Gomez, because larger consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies are waiting for the agency to give an official greenlight.

"They will be ready to pounce when the FDA says go," she said.

TPE 2020 took place Jan. 29-31 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

About the Author

Melissa Kress
Melissa Kress is Executive Editor of Convenience Store News. Read More