Creating a brand that stands out in a highly competitive market such as the CBD industry is certainly one of the most complex parts of building a long term marketing strategy, mostly because the process of creating ‘brand value’ has a life of its own. In other words, branding happens from moment customers first see and interact with a product and develop their own opinions about it, or alternatively, an opinion is formed from industry leaders, influencers, or celebrity endorsements. Nonetheless, there are strategies that brands and marketers can leverage in order to steer the branding process according to their vision and goals.
Up until early 2018, it would have been almost impossible to build a CBD brand for athletes. However, ever since the World Anti-Doping Agency decided to remove CBD from the list of prohibited substances, more and more athletes have opened to the idea of experimenting with CBD. In fact, famous athletes such as NFL linebacker Derrick Morgan, MMA Fighter Nate Diaz, and NFL offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, have publicly admitted to using CBD related products. Additionally, BIG3 has announced that will allow players to use CBD for pain treatment and recovery.
Now that we’re moving past the stigma surrounding CBD, you can build a reputable CBD brand that targets the specific needs of athletes. Here’s what it takes to design and launch a CBD brand and business targeted to athletes.
ESTABLISH THE NEEDS OF YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
With branding strategies, things tend to get a little tricky when it comes to controversial products like CBD products, but the principles of marketing remain the same. It all comes down to knowing your target audience. So, why do athletes consume and use CBD products? Well, most of them do so to cope with the negative effects of the stress that they put on their bodies. Pain caused by physical trauma is one of the major factors that drives athletes to use legal cannabinoid products, which offer a safer alternative to over-the-counter pain relievers. With professional athletes, there is also the psychological stress to be considered, which usually leads to the main cause of depression and anxiety among top athletes.
“Exercise causes tiny micro-tears in muscle fibers, which when repaired, allow the muscle to grow back stronger. But there’s an inflammatory response,” said Andrew Kerklaan Ph.D., creator of the Dr. Kerklaan Therapeutics line of cannabis-infused topicals.
Scientists are still in the early stages of studying CBD at a clinical level, but according to Laurie Brodsky, HBSc, ND, Dirty Lemon‘s in-house naturopathic practitioner, CBD has been shown to suppress the inflammatory response, along with the neuropathic pain that athletes may experience. “Plus, it may improve sleep quality, and sleep is very important for recovery after exercise,” she says.
KNOW YOUR COMPETITION
Thanks to CBD-infused protein powders, muscle rubs, and better-than-Epsom-salt soaks, CBD products are making their way into the sports supplement stack and post-recovery routines for everyone from amateur athletes to CrossFitters, and runners alike.
Nonetheless, the competition is not only CBD brands, but also over-the-counter pain relievers. Your best bet is to make a comparison between cannabidiol and traditional pain relievers, highlighting the pros and cons of each option. Since athletes put a lot of value on their health, you should highlight the natural side of your products, and the side effects of synthetic pain-relievers.
LEVERAGE THE VALUE ATHLETES BRING TO YOUR BUSINESS
Aside from the fact that they tend to have high incomes, athletes are influential people, so their purchasing habits are likely to be imitated by their fans, which will help you be visible to a wider audience. Even local amateur athletes are micro-influencers, and you can even consider partnering with them for some marketing campaigns. Professional athletes are less likely to be open to such collaborations, but it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot.
One sport that puts its athletes through a great deal of physical stress and trauma, it’s football. Players who participate in this sport – whether on an amateur or professional level – are putting themselves at risk for serious injury, considering the substantial contact between players on the field. It’s not unusual for players to experience at least one major injury – or more – throughout their football careers. One top athlete in particular who claims to use CBD oil to effectively treat pain and inflammation that’s commonly linked to football training and injuries is Derrick Morgan, an NFL linebacker for the Tennessee Titans. In fact, he’s not the only football player in the NFL to support the use of CBD oil for athletes, and he likely won’t be the last.
CREATE A BRAND STORY THAT WILL RESONATE WITH ATHLETES
If there is one concept that resonates with all athletes, that concept is definitely “the struggle” or the “competition”. When you market to athletes, don’t pretend to sell the ideal products for their needs. Instead, highlight how your brand has evolved in time, and detail the plans that you have in order to continuously improve your products. Talk about the rigorous lab tests that your products undergo and the challenges that you had to deal with in order to create premium products.
A perfect example is the Provacan CBD brand by CiiTECH which now sponsors the Israeli Rugby team. “Israel is the undisputed home of cannabis-based science and research and we are proud to be working closely to support grass-roots initiatives in an effort to promote the Israel Rugby Union – as well as advance the sport among the country’s growing youth player pool,” said Clifton Flack, founder and CEO of CiiTECH and developer of the Provacan CBD brand. “While Provacan CBD products are not yet available here in Israel, we have seen several high-impact athletes across the UK and Europe switch to CBD for recovery purposes after relating to certain head injuries, an unfortunate outcome of contact sports.”
“Israel is the undisputed home of cannabis-based science and research and we are proud to be working closely to support grass-roots initiatives in an effort to promote the Israel Rugby Union – as well as advance the sport among the country’s growing youth player pool,” said Clifton Flack, founder and CEO of CiiTECH and developer of the Provacan CBD brand. “While Provacan CBD products are not yet available here in Israel, we have seen several high-impact athletes across the UK and Europe switch to CBD for recovery purposes after relating to certain head injuries, an unfortunate outcome of contact sports.”
CREATE VISUAL ELEMENTS THAT APPEAL TO ATHLETES
Most CBD products feature natural designs, with green and earth tones. While athletes value natural products, keep in mind that you are addressing an audience that is all about vitality. So, try to avoid the earth tones, and instead choose more vibrant colors like green and orange. Black is also a good color choice, as it inspires power. Nonetheless, stay away from blue and purple shades that can give your products a synthetic vibe.
Strong brand identity in the CBD industry can mean the difference between your company succeeding, or falling flat. The good news is that whether you succeed or fail is in your hands. Of course, CannaImpact is available to help every step of the way.
If you are a Cannabis or CBD based business that’s ready to take off, we are ready to support you in establishing your vision. We are a full-service brand and marketing agency that has helped dozens of growing Cannabis businesses tell their story and make an impact in today’s highly competitive landscape.