Regulation, verification, education and consumer fears all are front and center in both the CBD and vape industries. Not only is there federal scrutiny (e.g., FDA), but states and municipalities are moving to restrict or outright ban vape products presently.
Labels that offer substantial solid, factual and accurate information can help on multiple fronts – assuaging consumer concerns and making them more educated buyers, and offering a reputation-enhancing image to regulators. While an upfront, trustworthy vape or CBD manufacturer likely won’t singlehandedly sway the way regulators view their industry, it can serve as a benchmark of how the industry as a whole should behave.
To be sure product manufacturers provide the right information and guidance in a timely way, labels need to be nimble – ready to be changed or expanded on a dime in response to stories, regulatory edicts and rapidly-evolving public concerns. Think how and how fast to do this ahead of time, to be prepared. Also think about what needs to happen right away to provide clear information consumers and regulators can take to the bank, as well as quell fears as appropriate.
First, let’s look at vape. Rocked by nationwide reports of health problems related to vaping, the industry is at a critical juncture. While the causes of ill health are being investigated, vape companies can use their labels to help steer consumers toward accurate and objective information. Note: This doesn’t mean making a sales pitch. This is not the time or place to exalt the benefits of vaping (e.g., as an alternative to cigarettes). While these are important claims and selling points, it’s vital to give consumers information that’s trustworthy, current and complete.
Labels can do this through a QR code or newer digital ID technology shown on the label itself. The prompt can say something like, “Concerned about safety? Click here.” The code can take the consumer to valuable information, either developed by the manufacturer to address concerns and/or to direct people to other sources of information (e.g., the FDA, CDC).
Just letting consumers know you’re addressing issues front and center with unbiased reports will help ensure them that you’re invested in their health and wellbeing. And it can’t hurt with the regulatory agencies either.
CBD is another industry facing numerous reports good and bad. On the plus side, high-grade CBD is proving to be a valuable pain-fighting tool for a variety of ailments from arthritis to fibromyalgia. However, given the nascent nature of the industry, it’s currently a bit like the Wild, Wild West when it comes to who’s doing what, where and when. Reports of harmful synthetic CBD products and companies with dubious ingredient claims are currently in the spotlight right along with the positive reports.
Consumers can be left wondering who they can trust to provide top-quality product. While reviews are certainly helpful, they won’t tell the whole story. What will help is labels that educate and provide bullet-proof assurance that the products purchased are authentic and are traceable from seed to shelf.
New track-and-trace technology enables consumers to access a digital ID on the label to get confirmation that the product is verified. This is particularly important in an industry where counterfeiting occurs, eroding consumer confidence. After all, it can look authentic and seem to provide everything that the buyer seeks but still be a fake that is potentially harmful to health. At the very least, it may not do what it should.
By using the label to verify, consumers can rest assured they’re not being hoodwinked by counterfeiters. Further, just as with vape, CBD purveyors can help educate consumers on the myriad issues surrounding the harvesting, processing and certifying of CBD products.
For example, CBD, THC (the substance that makes you high) and hemp oil all derive from the same plant. High-grade CBD designed to provide pain relief without the intoxicating qualities should have a THC level under .3%. To educate and reassure would-be buyers, labels can directly address (via extended content labels or other tools) such important issues as ingredients and THC levels, accessible third-party test results if any, how the hemp is grown and extracted, and the company’s reputation backed by independent reports, reviews, testimonials, endorsements, and the like.
In this realm, more isn’t always better unless it’s thoroughly vetted and documented. The FDA has come down hard on CBD companies offering unsubstantiated/unproven health claims. Similarly, testimonials of dubious origin (e.g., company “manufactured” comments) can be extremely damaging to reputation if disproven. After all, if a CBD company is legit and doing what it says it’s doing, positive comments should speak for themselves – not have to be puffed up. You can be sure the FDA is looking at reputation-related comments and claims in the CBD world hard right now.
Labels are vibrant and vital customer service tools. Use them early and often for this purpose.
Mark Lusky is a marketing communications professional who has worked with Lightning Labels, an all-digital custom label printer in Denver, CO, USA, since 2008. Find Lightning Labels on Facebook for special offers and label printing news.