Making Sense of CBD Marketing: The Smart Buyer’s Guide

Making Sense of CBD Marketing: The Smart Buyer’s Guide

Discover why CBD companies have to follow strict rules when talking about their products, and how does that affects consumers' search for reliable information.

The last couple of years have been good for CBD fans. The 2018 Farm Bill (effectively enacted in 2019) finally descheduled hemp, a form of cannabis with only trace amounts of THC. That means that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is no longer in the picture when it comes to CBD.

This was a triumph for those who wanted easier access to CBD and other hemp products.

But now, there are other government agencies regulating the way CBD products are made, sold, and advertised. Their ultimate goal is to protect consumers, and that’s a good thing. But CBD marketing, and the exploding hemp industry in general, present challenges for these regulators.

CBD companies can legally sell CBD. You can legally consume CBD. But CBD makers and sellers are heavily restricted when advertising their products or otherwise discussing how they can be used.

This creates a shortage of information for consumers, barriers for reputable CBD companies, and a feeding frenzy for shady characters.

With all that in mind, let’s take a look at how you can find out all you need to know while avoiding the less-than-honest CBD marketing tricks some companies use.

An assortment of healthy supplements and cbd products sits on a counter

How CBD Marketing is Different

When you ask an attorney about what CBD companies can say in their ads or what customer service teams can tell buyers, you’re going to get a very long answer. It’s kind of like asking someone what time it is, and they explain how a clock works.

It’s excruciating, and we’re not going to do that to you here.

Without getting into all the legalese, it breaks down like this: The companies that make, sell, and advertise CBD products are not allowed to talk about their wares in the same way drug companies talk about their products. That’s because the CBD products you see online and in stores are not approved drugs.

In other words, companies cannot say that CBD can cure, treat, or prevent any disease. But it also means that customer service specialists can’t offer concrete directions on things like serving sizes.

These rules are made with the best of intentions. In theory, they should prevent predatory marketing practices. But since there has been little enforcement of those regulations to date, there are quite a few CBD ads out there that rely on unreliable, even dangerous sales pitches.

A cartoon depicts a laptop on a webpage showing top cbd oil companies with gold coins surrounding it

Warning Signs for CBD Consumers

Before we get into this, let’s be clear. There are plenty of reputable companies who make high-quality CBD products, advertise CBD ethically, and treat customers with respect. And we’re proud to say that cbdMD is an industry leader for all of the reasons we just listed. We work hard to earn our accolades and will continue to do that.

But there are also those who offer poorly made products and use deceptive, sometimes illegal CBD advertising techniques to sell their offerings.

One of the first things you should look at when you see CBD ads is to decide whether or not the company markets their product like a drug. For instance, do they say it can treat a disease?

It seems like a straightforward question, but the answer can be tricky.

That’s because there are loads of articles floating around on news websites that look like unbiased information. But many of these pieces are actually paid advertisements. They often have titles like “The Best CBD for _____,” or Top 5 CBD Oils for _____.” The blanks are usually filled with the name of a health condition.

But if you look closely, you might notice that there’s no actual author for the piece, or the writer’s name is something like “Sponsored.” Beware of these posts because they do not contain reliable CBD information.

Another issue you might face are companies that use high-pressure sales tactics. These CBD ads might feature a countdown clock on a “limited time offer” or lead you to believe their supplies are about to run out.

Companies often use these tactics alongside free product offers. But they’re not really free at all. They’re usually overpriced subscription services for inferior products.

Another warning sign to look out for are sellers who only sell on social media or third-party platforms like Amazon or eBay. The labels of these products often boast insane amounts of CBD in the product, and they absolutely do not deliver.

Also, social media platforms and companies like Amazon do not allow CBD to be sold on their sites at the time of this writing. In other words, you can bet there’s something fishy going on when you see CBD companies offering products for sale on these sites.

However, things are opening up a bit, and you may see CBD advertising on social media sites like Facebook. But CBD sales through such platforms still violate the rules.

A chalkboard with multiple stick figures drawn on it demonstrates how marketing word of mouth spreads

Where Can You Find Reliable Information?

Your family doctor should always be your first choice for information about CBD or any other wellness product. Your physician’s advice is especially important since they best understand your unique medical history and current health status.

Independent health websites like WebMD and the Mayo Clinic can also provide good information. Their articles are typically reviewed by health professionals before they’re published.

However, it has become more common for some sites (we won’t name names) to get a commission on sales made through the product links in their articles. By law, the publishers must make a disclaimer noting that they make money off of any sales made through those links, but that’s not always the case. A site that receives commissions in this manner can still provide solid facts. But you should always be aware of any money exchanges.

Family and friends can also serve as a valuable source of anecdotal information. Their personal stories can give you some insight on how and why they use CBD and what products have worked best in their individual health routines. But remember, everyone is unique. Your body may not respond to a product in the same way.

Finally, there are responsible CBD companies that do their very best to educate consumers while following the rules. Any reputable CBD company will provide plenty of educational links to answer questions like “What is CBD?” and “How are CBD products made?” while also providing tools to help customers make the selection as to what CBD products are right for you.

We’re extremely proud of our products here at cbdMD. But many of the articles on our blog only briefly discuss them, if at all. For instance, we offer helpful tips on using CBD in the morning, explain bioavailability and CBD, and talk about other valuable cannabinoids like CBG.

And you can always contact our customer service specialists at any point in your journey.

A laptop sits on a desk with a businessman's arm holding a smartphone over top of it with a diagram overlaid that shows how marketing is connected

What Will CBD Regulations Look Like in the Future?

Legal and medical experts have varied opinions on the matter, and the government agencies in charge of regulating the sale and marketing of CBD haven’t tipped their hand. The events of 2020 haven’t helped matters either. And while the shift in focus and resources are warranted, CBD companies and consumers are left shrugging their shoulders.

With all that said, it’s impossible to predict what the future of CBD marketing and education will look like. In the foreseeable future, CBD consumers will need to use their own good judgment on the claims they encounter.

What do you look for in CBD products? And what sources of information have you found most useful? Let us know by tagging us on social media. You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.