Paul Wilmot Communications is the latest to expand into the burgeoning CBD- and THC-based products business.
The marketing and public relations firm is creating a dedicated division for clients in the cannabis space, set to specialize in the launch of brands making use of CBD (cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive derivative of hemp plants), but also THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana). The division is launching with three new clients in the beauty space that the firm declined to name at this time.
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Hampton Carney, PWC chief executive officer, said the market growth for CBD and THC products “has been noting short of meteoric.”
“There’s a tremendous opportunity to educate the general public on their benefits while creating broader, mainstream acceptance and understanding of the category,” Carney added.
As for what will set PWC’s work in the area apart from the many other firms that represent such brands, Carney said it will be “an elevated approach given our over two decades of experience in luxury and consumer goods.”
PWC’s immediate future of the division sounds to be in the beauty and wellness space, with the firm saying it has some retail concepts coming along with product categories like skin care, body balms and supplements. Going forward, there will also be “several non-plant accessories and fashion lines.” The firm will be handling media relations generally, but also influencer campaigns, community management and “thought leadership” for its CBD/THC clients.
“Our broadcast and podcast team will also play a significant role for these new clients,” managing director Samantha Kain added, “given the increased ‘airtime’ dedicated to the cannabis conversation.”
In a memo, PWC noted that the continued increase in consumer spending on CBD products shows that “this is not a trend or a fad, but a change in how many people are approaching wellness and living their lives,” but it is still certainly an emerging and relatively unregulated market experiencing ups and downs.
While 11 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized recreational and medicinal marijuana and 22 others have legalized only medicinal, it is still illegal at the federal level. Considering this, a lot of banks consider accounts related to CBD products “high risk” and a lot of payment processors actually won’t deal with payments for CBD product at all. Platform providers, too, are wary and CBD brands have had to set up their own “microsites” for fear of being booted off of larger platforms.
Nevertheless, there have been scores of brands and products to come out in the last two years or so. In 2018, sales of CBD products grew almost 60 percent to $238 million, according to research from New Hope Network, a Colorado-based natural products company. The company also said a survey of natural and organic product manufactures found 65 percent plan to launch CBD products in the next two years.