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3 Ways CBD Brands Can Build Consumer Trust

CBD may have had a slow start in the mainstream, but trust remains the entrepreneur's best tool to reach those new consumers.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

CBD as a category has trust issues. Lack of regulation, lack of transparency, and "snake oil" marketing may unfortunately set the CBD category up for a slow start with mainstream consumers. Trust is everything when it comes to wellbeing.

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Here are three key avenues CBD companies and marketers can use in order to build trust with the consumer. 

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1. Focus on transparency 

New brands in an emerging category must be hyper cognizant of this lack of trust among mainstream consumers. For this reason, my company Healist decided to commit to a content strategy focused on transparency and education. The content channels our team selected were the ones that spoke directly to consumers.

The goal is for the brand to be 100 percent consumer-centric. We desire to have a conversation with consumers at all times. This transparency and communication can come through whatever method works best for them, whether it be on social media, email, newsletter, or even by phone.

While other brands focused on celebrities or spokespersons, we decided to instead create a person-to-person approach and ensuring accessibility to information. It’s not just about having content, it’s about making it available at every touchpoint. A good way to do this is by creating content at multiple touchpoints on your website; social media channels, through email, and third-party editorial publications. 

The goal is to guide the mainstream consumer through the benefits of CBD and the efficacy of plant-based products and ingredients. We understood that CBD may be confusing to some consumers because it has multiple benefits. Is it for sleep? Is it used for anxiety? Is it used for pain? Can it be used during the day or at night?  Consumers are aware and curious but unable to find clear and simple information about what CBD means for them.

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Consumers believe in the power and science behind plant-based ingredients. It’s evident from the rise of vegan foods; plant-based diets have mirrored a desire for plant-based medication. However, consumers do need more practical information. This is how they build trust. Share lab test results for the CBD used in your products and vetted clinical studies to support other key ingredients in our benefit led products like ashwagandha, l-theanine, and lavender. Your brand needs to champion ingredients and the research that backs their use up.

2. Create a dialogue 

In addition to creating video content on the science of CBD and putting forth clinical trials, we made a commitment early on to work with influencers. Not to sell products, but to share their experiences with consumers. We openly worked with paid and unpaid influencers alike asking them to share their genuine honest experience with their audiences about their use of our products.

It is important for people to hear the experiences of other people to truly understand the benefits of the products. For many of our influencers, it was their first-time trying CBD. They were curious, but not early adopters. We spent time speaking with them about our products and gaining their trust. Since CBD is a new category of plant-based wellness products, many haven’t experienced yet and for that reason. It may benefit consumers more to hear first-hand information from friends, family, and trusted influencers versus a brand team. The influencers we selected were trusted, admired, and known for their honesty and transparency. Favorites include Katie Sturino, Cory Wharton, Nicole Berri, Hannah Bronfman, and Sophia Amorouso.

This first-person narrative helped consumers understand the benefits, what they could expect to feel after taking the product, and the pros and cons of another person’s point of view versus just branded marketing content. The response from consumers was overwhelmingly positive and creating a dialogue of communication via Direct Messenger on Instagram that I have never experienced with any other brand I managed.

3. Amplify the consumers' voice

After the influencer response, we doubled down on amplifying the voices of our consumers as the most valuable piece of content. We publish our consumer reviews and our consumer use test results on all owned and third-party media channels. The brand's early adopters are an extension of the Healist family and our ultimate advocates for CBD and the brand.

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Consumer reviews submitted through a verified third-party platform and have been the number one source of information for would-be customers. Testimonials explain the benefits of cannabis products in the most authentic way. Our strategy is to share both good and bad reviews because CBD is different for everyone. It takes time and an individualized ritual to truly achieve wellbeing.