From 2012 until 2018, Margaret Caldwell grew sun-grown cannabis in the mountains of Santa Cruz, California. After the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized the production of hemp, Caldwell transitioned her business from cannabis to focusing on building a business around cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is a compound found in and extracted from cannabis plants. CBD comes in different varieties, including some that contain the compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Unlike cannabis that contains THC, some varieties of hemp are completely free of THC or contain very low amounts of it. Even without THC, however, marketing and promoting a CBD brand and CBD products can be challenging.
“With the passage of the Farm Bill, suddenly the market for CBD went from a handful of states to an entire nation,” Caldwell explains. “As a veteran of the medical cannabis movement, that was an opportunity I felt had to be seized.”
Many of the same questions that those working with tobacco brands have to consider when launching a new company also apply to those working in a niche and heavily scrutinized industry like CBD. These questions include:
- Who are you trying to target for your line?
- How is your product superior to competitors’ products?
- How are you going to get the word out about your brand?
- What kind of materials do you plan to use to promote your brand?
Caldwell understood that in order to make her company, Caldwell Botanicals, stand out she had to take a different approach to marketing and brand development. Many companies in the CBD industry are referred to as “green rushers,” or those who entered the industry before the Farm Bill had been passed and have no experience in hemp or cannabis industries. Caldwell is no stranger to either industry, and Caldwell Botanicals is the product of many years of experience with growing and nurturing cannabis plants. Just as those in the premium cigar industry have known for years, it’s important to focus on quality, which Caldwell does in order to help her brand stand out from the crowded CBD marketplace.
“Our products are U.S. Hemp Authority certified and GMP certified,” she says. “The U.S. Hemp Authority certification is our industry’s initiative to provide high standards and the best practices and to give the consumer and retailers confidence in hemp and CBD products. Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification is a system that makes sure that your products are being controlled and produced to the proper quality standards.”
For its flower products, Caldwell Botanicals uses grove bags that are engineered for cannabis and keep flowers fresher for a longer period of time. Similar to many premium cigar products, every Caldwell Botanicals bag also contains a Boveda two-way humidity control packet to help maintain the moisture level of the flower.
How to Stand Out
How does one market a product in an overly saturated market that’s also heavily regulated? This is a question many tobacco businesses have had to deal with for decades, and it’s one that Caldwell and those building businesses in the CBD industry are also having to address early on. First and foremost, the story behind the brand is key to how it’s marketed. When choosing a name for her own company, Caldwell had concerns against using her family’s name because her brother, Robert Caldwell, already had an established and successful premium cigar brand by the same name. While doing research following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, Caldwell came across the story of Samuel Caldwell, a man who was the first to be arrested for cannabis just one day after the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937. Naming the brand after him and having artist Jade Rivera incorporate his image in the brand’s logo helped give the brand a story that could be branded and marketed.