On December 20, 2018 the nebulous laws and regulations of CBD (Cannabidiol) were put to rest when President Trump signed the Hemp Farming Act. Industrial hemp was removed as a Schedule one controlled substance and was now classified as an “ordinary agricultural commodity.”

This was long anticipated and long needed since many vape shops were technically selling the product illegally. Even though medical research and anecdotal stories shared the benefits of the crop, many states took a hard line approach. Shops have been raided and inventory confiscated. Some vape shop owners selling CBD were jailed.

Yet, even with all the sabre rustling and intimidation, no one was convicted for selling CBD in their vape shops.

That was then, so let’s talk about now and what the future may hold.

A longtime fan
I have been a proponent of CBD since 2014 when I did a Vape Radio interview with one of the pioneers in vapable CBD. Since then I have experimented with CBD in all forms and have been encouraging vape shops to expand into other product lines in addition to vape.

My typical recommendation is CBD, followed by glassware (for the growing and mostly legal alternative market), and essential oils.

But there are ways of offering CBD right and there are ways to do it less right. There is no wrong, unless you sell bogus products from inferior companies and do a bad job explaining it to your customers.

The typical buyer and market for CBD products is different than vape products and should be marketed in a different way.

As a general rule your “typical” vape customer is 1) male, 2) somewhere between 18 (or 21 in some states) and 40 years of age. Since the beginning vape has catered to the Millennial market, which is now older than when the industry took off, and the Gen X market, AKA, “middle agers.” The older demographics, the Baby Boomers, were the last to adopt and embrace vape and the stories of finally kicking tobacco addiction after decades of trying, are many.

But your CBD market will probably skew older, and in many cases, much older. They may, in fact, know nothing about vaping or find it offensive or intimidating. They may be Baby Boomers and beyond and know nothing about CBD other than what they read.

Your new opportunity: CBD only shops
Imagine this scenario. Instead of a vape shop focused on helping people stop smoking or offering the latest and coolest flavors, imagine that your shop is more consultative in nature.

Your new avatar, ie, ideal customer, walks through the doors and is greeted by one of your team.

“How may we help you today?,” they ask and the customer tells them what brought them in. Aches and pains. Sleeplessness. Jitteriness. The list of reasons is long.

Your greeter then escorts the customer over to a more private area to talk about their needs, since in many cases, it may be embarrassing or uncomfortable. Your “CBD consultant” fills out a form and comes up with the best products that you offer and in the form that best fits their needs.

On one set of shelves sits topicals and creams. On another sits gummies and the like. On another you offer oral drops and another offers vape products. You even have one for animal and pet products.

Why would you take this consultative approach?

Your customer is now a client and will appreciate and benefit from the personal treatment. They will know you care. They will probably be more loyal and also more likely to offer referrals. You will also more easily collect demographic information on your clients and be able to market to them better as well as fine tune your more salable products.

This is a total paradigm from the vape shop mentality and model. No more “cash and carry” customers; no more deadbeats hanging around all day buying nothing and no more customers that will shop down the street to save a nickel.

A CBD only shop can do much higher volume than most vape shops and be easier to run and maintain. Training will be crucial in this new model since the education your team shares is vital to the betterment of the client. You are not offering medical advice, but if you take pride in your training and what you offer, you should consider it just as important.

If you are interested in this concept, please let us know since we offer a turn key model to help you transition. And if you think this model makes no sense, we’d love your feedback. SVBS

Norm Bour is the founder of VapeMentors and creator of the VAPE U and Vape Shop Certification online programs. They offer services & resources for anyone in the vape space, including vape shops, online stores and e-liquid brands and work internationally with an office in Europe. They also work with CBD and helping retail shops convert over from vape. He’s also the host of Vape Radio, the largest vaping radio show in the world with more than 1.3M downloads. Contact him at [email protected]