Tips for Marketing Hemp CBD Products in the Coronavirus Era without Drawing the FDA’s Attention
By Asa Waldstein
Understanding the do’s and don’ts of how to message a product can mean the difference between a successful business or a legal nightmare.
Recently, the FDA and FTC have been sending numerous Warning Letters to those making both explicit and implicit claims related to the coronavirus crisis. At the same time, many of us have companies to run and families to support, and still need to continue to advertise products and gain market share. It’s difficult to know how to do this in a way that is sensitive to the global pandemic crisis but will also keep us out of FDA, FTC, and class action trouble.
In order to understand how to effectively message products, it’s important to first know what to avoid. As a general rule, anything ending in “itis,” which means inflammation-of, should be reworded. Also, anything a drug is indicated for is considered a claim and should be avoided (e.g. Xanax for anxiety).
All of the COVID-related warning letters mention buzzwords such as COVID, coronavirus, or Wuhan. A good first step in developing marketing content is to remove all such language from websites, socials, blogs, infographics, and videos. This includes hashtags, as an otherwise compliant social media post can garner FDA and FTC attention simply by using a COVID-related hashtag.
Also, I suggest resisting the urge educate the consumer about what the coronavirus is. The line from education to insinuation that a product may help is very thin, especially in this time of FDA/FTC scrutiny. As an example of the overall compliance picture the FDA/FTC looks at, a well-intentioned company may get a warning letter by implying an ingredient supports immune health, mentioning coronavirus on a blog, or posting a customer product review talking about overcoming the flu.
Refrain from eluding that a product will protect from coronavirus. A “reasonable consumer” may then think other measures such as handwashing and masks are not as important, and this is the crux of many of the warning letters. Anything that insinuates this and links to a product shopping cart is fair FDA/FTC game.
What CAN You Say?
If COVID-related words are necessary, try replacing with generalities such as “this situation” or “the crisis.” It is important to not mislead the consumer, though, and I suggest sticking with quality of life language concerning mood and happiness, and healthy sleep pattern discussion.
Here are some other lower risk ways to communicate how your product can help:
– Balanced state of mind
– Happy mood support
– A good night’s sleep supports the body’s health
– Support resilience
– Slumber support for optimal health
– Mental equilibrium
– Be kind to your body with hemp oil, your body systems will thank you!
A properly functioning body with low tension and a good mental outlook has better chance at an optimal immune system. Hemp extract is great for this! Hemp is a healing plant and the more widely the message is communicated the more opportunity there is for consumers to utilize its health-giving benefits. Happy ethical marketing!
A Certified Clinical Herbalist, Asa Waldstein is SVP of Operations for Functional Remedies, a vertically integrated full spectrum cannabinoid company. He also serves as Chair of the Cannabis Committee of the American Herbal Products Association, and is founder of the Boulder Hemp-CBD Group.
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